How We Celebrated Black History Month in Coventry

Over the month of October, many people in the UK will be celebrating Black History Month. It’s a time when all cultures – regardless of race – or colour come together to learn, teach and stand together in a celebration for equal rights for all.

During this time in Coventry, a local organisation called the Black Conscious Coventry (BCC) will hold numerous events over the month of October. All the events will be held at the West – Indie club in Coventry City Centre and I had to chance to catch up with one of the organisation’s committee members Jerome to get a little bit more information about what they are and have been doing.

The next event they will be holding is a screening of what is considered to be “ one of the best black history film documentary not based on slavery” which was is a topic they are looking to avoid.

Why non-slavery though? This is a question I found myself asking as it normally takes a forefront during Black History events. Jerome believes that “in modern society the only black history our generation and the next ever hears is about slavery” when in reality that is just a very small part of black history especially within Coventry.

One of the biggest influences the black/Caribbean community had in Coventry was the in the music scene, with groups such as The Specials and The Selecters mixing British and Caribbean music such as Punk Rock with Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady.

That idea of bringing different community’s and cultures together is something the BCC want to uphold with their events as well “we don’t want this to just be a ‘black event’ we want the whole community regardless of colour or culture to be involved”. Their aim is clear too “we want to educate people with regards to classism, which we feel is a major problem with our community”.

But when it comes to this ambitious young organisation who knows what the future holds “We also want to try and create a platform where we can challenge any local political issues we think may hurt our community” and the small local business also seem to be able to get a platform to promote themselves during these events.

Jerome told me about the small business and also charities the BCC have invited to their next event “we have organised for several local businesses and charities to set up stalls at the event as well. One charity we really felt we needed to get behind was one with regards to prostate cancer, statically because of the stigmas behind checking for prostate cancer within the black male community. Every 1 in 4 black males will go undiagnosed with the disease, compare that the 1 in 8 of white males."

I also got a chance to speak to a local barber who used one of the BCC’S last event S to promote himself and his business. He spoke of how amazed and taken back he was with the event and also the support from all the local gave “I’m nearly 40 years of age and I cannot remember the last time I saw so many people out from the black community and I really cannot remember the last time I saw so many people in the west indie club”.

This local man rents a chair at a local hairdresser located on Wallace Rd, Radford, Coventry and he also spoke about the impact the promotion has had on his business “before the event I has maybe 7 or 8 regular customers who always get the hair cut by myself. Since the event that number has probably gone up to about 12 or 13 so it has definitely helped with my business that’s for sure”.

With his clean professional cuts is easy to understand why some people go to great lengths just to have their hair cut by him. “I even have one guy who lives in Birmingham but was visiting family in Coventry when he came to the event, he loved the cut so much he now comes back to me once a month to keep up the trim”.

The impact from the small local community based organisation is clear to see in Coventry but with such ambition shown from the committee and with all of the support the city can give who knows how far their impact my travel in the future.

For more information on the BCC next event please check out their page linked below.

Matthew James Reilly

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