Published date: 08 November 2023

Reflections on Black History Month: Saluting our Sisters

October was a wonderful Black History Month of celebrations and acknowledgements. This year’s theme was ‘Saluting our Sisters’, paying homage to black women who had contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced.

From inspiring talks to lived experience sessions, we had something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. In this blog, Lorraine Cork (Culture and Inclusion Manager), shares some of her highlights and reflections.

Black culture in Britain

We kicked off the month with a webinar on ‘The Influence of Black Culture in Britain’, hosted by Inclusive Employers. This was a great opportunity to learn about the rich and diverse history of black culture in Britain, from music and fashion to literature and politics. The photos and videos shown during the webinar showcased the vibrant and influential black culture in Britain over the decades. The pictures of the sound system in 1979 took me back to a time when I spent every Summer Bank Holiday at Notting Hill Carnival – listening to music, dancing, and eating from sunset to sunrise.

Black nurses in Britain before Windrush

Another highlight was the session with historian Stephen Bourne, who shared his research and insights on ‘Black Nurses in Britain before Windrush and the NHS’. Stephen told us about the remarkable stories of some of the black nurses who worked in Britain from the 1880s to the 1940s. He also shared his background and how he came to be a historian specialising in black heritage. We were honoured to have Stephen as our guest speaker, and we hope to have him back in the future.

Lived experience sessions

We also organised two lived experience sessions for black and mixed heritage colleagues, where they could share their stories and perspectives in a safe and confidential space. These sessions were very engaging and thought-provoking.

Participants said they felt more connected and supported by their peers after the sessions. We’ll definitely be doing more of them in the future. We’re also looking at what actions we can take based on the feedback we received.

Beyond Black History Month

Black History Month is a reminder of the invaluable contributions black people have made. It’s a history of pain and resilience, one that many people and their families have been impacted by and honour.

While it was a great month of sharing and exposure to black history, it shouldn’t be limited to October. We want to keep the conversation and learning going throughout the year.

As Bob Marley said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”. Let us all aspire to live by these words and make a positive difference in our organisation and our communities, all year round.