Poetry for Black History Month.


Poetry for Black History Month.

Originating in the UK during the 1980s as a means to challenge the Eurocentric teachings of history within the schooling system, Black History Month occurs every October as a way to celebrate and promote Black contributions to society, and to history as a whole.

After hearing the story of a colleague whose son had asked his mother why he couldn’t be white, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, the founder of Black History Month in the UK, realised that, unlike in America, there was no nationally recognised or acknowledged month to celebrate Black identity and contributions. He had seen first-hand the confidence and faith his lectures about African genius gave children and parents in America and wanted to do the same for people in the UK, largely due to the UK’s history of colonialism, racism and imperialism. While Black History Month in the US occurs during February, Addai-Sebo selected October as it aligned with the start of new academic years, and hoped that students’ minds would be “refreshed and revitalised, so they can take in a lot of instruction.”

Every year, Black History Month is given a theme (separate in the US and UK), and events and campaigns are held, all with the aim to give voice to, promote, and celebrate African and Caribbean achievements and contributions to our society. Further details can be found on the official website, along with opinion-pieces, accounts and a calendar of upcoming events.

In honour of Black History Month, and Black Poetry Day, which recently occurred on the 17th, below are twelve poems by Black poets, exploring themes such as racism, lived experience, culture and identity.

what if by Claudia Rankine | Poetry Foundation

Power by Audre Lorde | Poetry Foundation

The Black Finger by Angelina Weld Grimké | Poetry Foundation

The Beach Is Host to Small Things by Kwoya Fagin… | Poetry Magazine

Black Mothers and Sons by Crystal Simone Smith | Poetry Magazine

Up Sun South of Alaska: A Short African American History

Poem for My Father by Quincy Troupe | Poetry Foundation

I Just Want to Live Long Enough to See Allen… | Poetry Magazine

Perhaps I Am a Fugitive of Empathy by Marlanda… | Poetry Magazine

I Swear I See Skulls Coming by Mukoma wa Ngugi | Poetry Foundation

Black Matters by Keith S. Wilson | Poetry Foundation

Medical History by Alison C. Rollins | Poetry Magazine

By Holly Steventon, SGO Project Officer

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