Black History Month started in England on 1 October 1987 to challenge racism and ignorance and acknowledge the history of peoples from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia. It has grown in popularity despite two concerns: that the focus on black history should be year long and not limited to one month and that this can separate black history from being embedded in British history. It also soon slipped into being the history of people from the African diaspora only as in the USA model.

Despite these concerns Black History Month can provide opportunities to learn about the history of African descended peoples and challenge the view that African descended peoples are new arrivals who have not contributed to British society.

One such opportunity is the publication of African Lives in Northern England, which has been supported by the Catholic Association for Racial Justice. The 54 people featured include a Roman emperor, the first professional black footballer, first black woman magistrate, notable orators against enslavement and racism as well as more ordinary lives as soldiers, sailors, servants, engineers, physicians and community builders.

Read more here.