Why do we commemorate Black History Month?
Richard Ronksley, Rochdale Sixth Form College Principal/CEO writes:
Because we should. Because it’s fascinating. And because there is so much history out there in addition to the often white, upper-class, male and Euro-centric view of the past we sometimes get. Black is the new black is a fascinating documentary series where… Exceptional figures from politics, business, sport, culture, religion and science share their insights into being black and British today, how they got where they are and their thoughts on what the future holds.
The first episode is about arriving and growing up in Britain. A cast of distinguished black Britons including Naomi Campbell, Sir Trevor McDonald, Thandie Newton, Baroness Scotland, musicians Jazzie B of Soul II Soul, Dizzie Rascal, Sir Lenny Henry, writer Gary Younge and many others talk about their parents as pioneers who came to the UK in search of a better life for them and their children.
What they encountered was a whole raft of new experiences from snow to smoking chimneys – as well as prejudice, verbal abuse and physical violence. Actor David Harewood recounts attending his first football match at Leeds United as an eight-year-old, which ended with him leaving before the match had even begun with monkey chants and jeers ringing in his ears.
The programme is a tribute to the dedication of immigrant parents who, with firm discipline, imparted important lessons about being twice as good, working hard and rising above racism. Their struggle was supposed to make it easier for the next generation to come to terms with their dual identity of being both black and British.