A Black History Manifesto for Manchester 

A new approach 

Every year as October approaches there is a flurry of activity around Black History – Black creatives and performers find themselves in high demand, organisations like ours are asked to supply resources and support events, and Black History finds itself in the spotlight in the media. Then November comes and it seems that Black History fades back into the background. 

As we shared in this blog post, we feel that this approach to Black History Month and other commemorative points in the year is no longer appropriate. Instead, we are looking at how we can use them as launching points for our work on Black histories throughout the year. 

Our Manifesto call-to-action 

We also want to make sure that the work we (and others) do around Black History reflects the views, experiences and priorities of people of African and Caribbean heritage. We feel it’s time for a clear statement which sets out how Black histories should be recorded, explored, celebrated and shared.  

For Black History Month 2023, we are therefore launching a call-to-action, asking Black* people in Manchester to tell us how they want to see their histories recorded, explored, shared and celebrated. We will build a Manifesto out of these responses and share this widely. We hope that it will be used by Manchester’s heritage and cultural sector, educators, statutory and voluntary organisations and individuals as well as informing our work on Black histories. 

*Although historically Black was used to include all people of colour / people who might experience racism, now it is generally used to refer to people of African and Caribbean heritage, and we are using it in that way here. 

How you can contribute – find out more  

If you are of African or Caribbean heritage, please contribute to the Manifesto by sharing your views about and experiences of Black History Month, and how you feel your histories should be commemorated and celebrated. You can do this here: tinyurl.com/AIUBHM  We are open for responses throughout October, and we will then create the Manifesto to be shared at a public event in December.

Because we want this Manifesto to reflect the voices of Black people in Manchester, if you are not of African or Caribbean heritage, please don’t complete the survey. Instead, you can help us by sharing the call-to-action with your networks and contacts, and by sharing the Manifesto when it is created.   You can also get involved in all the great Black History events and activities that will be running during Black History Month – you can find out more at Black History Month 2023 and Ubuntu Festival of Events in Celebration of Black History Month 

Using the Manifesto call-to-action with young people during Black History Month 

During Black History Month, educators are often looking for activities focused on Black histories. Our Manifesto call-to-action presents a great opportunity for teachers, youth workers, home educators and others working with young people. It offers a way of opening up conversations around Black histories and how they are currently represented in education and the cultural and heritage sector (and of course, more widely).  

We encourage you to use out call-to-action in your work with young people, using it to build critical thinking with enquiry questions such as: 

  • How well are Black histories explored, celebrated, and documented currently? 
  • How could this be improved?  
  • What are key Black histories that should be better known / celebrated / shared? 
  • Who should be doing this work, and how?  

And of course, please do support and encourage the young Black people you work with to respond to the call-to-action. 

As you may have noticed, our call-to-action is aimed solely at Black people – we want the Manifesto to be based entirely on Black people’s views. We feel this is important as although Black histories are part of everyone’s collective experience, it’s the lived experience of Black people that qualifies them best to talk about how their histories should be document, explored, shared etc.  

You may well be working with mixed (or perhaps entirely white) groups and may be wondering how to use the Manifesto call-to-action appropriately. We suggest that regardless of the ethnic make-up of the group, there are opportunities for thoughtful questions and discussions about Black histories and their representation: Black histories are part of the UK’s histories and therefore we should all care about them.

The fact that this call-to-action is aimed solely at Black people provides a great opportunity to ask further questions such as: How much power or control do Black people and communities have over how their histories are represented? What is lived experience, and why is it important?