Walsall for All celebrates Black History Month 2020
Walsall for All hosted its biggest ever celebration of Black History Month (BHM) in October 2020.
The nationwide event traditionally sees the country celebrate the achievements of well-known Black historical figures including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. This year, perhaps more than recent years, an opportunity was presented to do more than just celebrate the enormous contribution from Black historical figures and Black communities in Walsall. This year, it was important to look closely at the Black experience past, present and future.
Throughout October, Walsall for All invited over 30 local people from across Walsall and the surrounding areas to share spotlight profiles, focusing on the meaning of Black History Month, what it means to be Black and British, inspiration and hopes for the future.
One of those featured was Walsall FC defender, Hayden White, who shared his hopes “to be as successful as possible, to continue to work hard and make a difference, whether that’s on the pitch or in day-to-day life”. Another contributor was internationally recognised photographer Denise Maxwell, whose work was recently featured at an exhibition in Walsall called We Are Here, which showcased some of the work of UK Black Female Photographers (UKBFTOG).
Walsall for All was also proud to share and celebrate the story and history of Walsall’s first Brit-African Caribbean Councillor Moses Whyte, written by Mkuu Amani. Moses continues to live in the borough as a much-respected figure and remains active as a Community Advisor.
On Monday 26th October, Walsall for All (in partnership with The Faith and Belief Forum) hosted the webinar, Black History: Looking to the Future. The event featured an impressive line-up of high-profile speakers from Walsall’s African-Caribbean communities. Each shared their own personal journey, aspirations and participated in a Q&A with the audience:
Andre Reid, KIONDO
Michelle Cummings, Walsall Council
Chief Inspector Rod Rose, West Midlands Police
Keith Fraser, Chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales
Jennifer Beth Blake, Change Partnership Ltd.
Topics focused on enhancing creativity and community voices in Walsall, empowering young people, policing, the criminal justice system, diversity and inclusion within organisations and leadership roles. Over the course of the event, 170 people attended. Attendees praised the webinar as being inspirational, well-organised, thought provoking and relevant. The quality and variety of speakers and the different perspectives each speaker brought to the discussion was also recognised.
One attendee said: “I thought it was brilliant to be looking and talking about the future of diversity. I liked the optimism.”
Jennifer Beth Blake, one of five speakers for the webinar and Director of Change Partnership Ltd., told us: “It was a pleasure to be involved and listen to all the contributions. As organisers, the Walsall for All team provided me with great support as a speaker in order to ensure that I could access the platform effectively prior to the event. I felt my participation went smoothly.”
“I have had feedback from some of my contacts that they were impressed with the calibre of the panel line-up.”
Zara Khan, Positive Action Officer for Walsall for All and BHM Project Lead, added: “I’m so glad that Walsall for All’s Black History Month celebrations were engaging and informative for so many people.”
“We decided to do things a little differently this year and celebrate the lives, achievements and contributions of our local African and Caribbean communities, past and present. This is just the beginning. We hope to continue this work over the coming weeks and months.”