Life experiences of local people from different countries and the stories of Black female role models will be explored as Wigan Council celebrates Black History Month (BHM).
The cultural initiative, which is marked across the UK, raises awareness of the contributions Black people have made to society throughout history and highlights the issues people from diverse communities can still endure.
Wigan Council has been working with borough-based community organisation Everything Human Rights to bring activities and information on Black history and culture to the borough.
Councillor Paula Wakefield, lead cabinet member for equalities, said: “It’s important we support BHM to acknowledge the many positive contributions Black people have made to our communities throughout history and the positive difference they continue to make to our society today.
“We want Wigan Borough to be a fairer, kinder place, where all residents can feel comfortable enough to be themselves and where we celebrate our diverse communities.”
The national theme for 2023 is about celebrating the achievements of Black women.
Everything Human Rights was set up to support residents who have come to the borough from across the world.
Co-founder, Tabeth Mabiza-Nhakaniso, said: “It’s good that the achievements of Black women will be celebrated this year as the achievements of women generally are sometimes overlooked.
“BHM is important to me as it’s a chance to shine a light on some parts of history that might otherwise be forgotten.
“I hope one day we won’t need to have themed days or months as I do worry that they might sometimes seem divisive, elevating different communities at different times throughout the year.
“Black history is part of British history and so should just be readily available, woven into the British story and celebrated as British history, not a separate entity.”
The borough’s activities were launched with Wigan and Leigh town halls lit up in the BHM colours of red, yellow, and green.
Local Black women who have originally come to the borough from different countries, including Tabeth, will be sharing their experiences throughout the month.
Tabeth added: “The way forward is for us all to have more conversations with each other and take time to listen and ask questions.
“This way we can all find out about each other’s experiences, cultures, and the different issues we all face, and it will lead to more understanding.”
Young people from Wigan Council and Everything Human Rights led youth group, Global Friends, will be choosing their own inspirational female Black role models at a workshop and sharing their thoughts through the council’s social media channels.
Councillor Wakefield added: “I’d encourage everyone to be mindful of the experiences of each other and to try to better understand the barriers that other people face in their everyday lives.
“I hope everyone will take a look at our web pages and social media channels or visit our libraries this month and find out more.”
For those particularly interested in history, historian Brian Joyce will be discussing the often-overlooked stories of Black Victorians from Leigh and Wigan, at a free event led by the council’s Wigan and Leigh archives team at Leigh Town Hall on Saturday, 14 October, from 2pm to 3pm.
Places must be booked in advance via the Eventbrite website, search, ‘Black Victorians in Leigh and Wigan’.
For creative writers, the national team behind Black History Month, are running a poetry competition across the UK, inviting people of all ages to write a poem about an inspirational Black woman, either someone from history, current culture, or a family member or friend.
The winning poems will be published later in the year as a legacy from this year’s awareness month.
Across the borough, the council’s libraries will feature Black History Month displays, made up of recommended titles to encourage everyone to learn more about Black history and culture.
To read local people’s stories and find more information and workshop resources, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/BlackHistoryMonth or keep an eye on the council’s social media channels throughout October.
To enter the national poetry competition, visit Black History Month website (external link).