Nick Clegg writes: Black History Month

black history monthBlack History Month reminds us that remembering the past is about more than just memorising important dates and facts. It’s about recognising and understanding the kaleidoscopic mix of people, events and influences that have shaped the country we live in and make us who we are.

Over the last 26 years, Black History Month has helped to inform and educate men, women and children across Britain, highlighting and celebrating the powerful contribution of African and Caribbean people in every area of British society, across centuries of our history.

Black History Month is built around the belief that people who are aware of their roots and the achievements of their ancestors – with stories passed from generation to generation – can look to their future with ambition and confidence. Importantly, it is also a reaction to the fact that historians in decades past have failed to acknowledge Black historical figures.

But it’s not just the impact of more well-known African and Caribbean people on Britain’s history that we recognise throughout this month, like the abolitionists Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, Victorian Crimea War nurse Mary Seacole and composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, as well as Claudia Jones who brought us the Notting Hill Carnival, Jazzie B who revolutionised the British music scene, Arthur Wharton and Viv Anderson who achieved significant ‘firsts’ in football, Benjamin Zephaniah the celebrated poet and Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Floella Benjamin.

It’s also those ordinary people, who – in their every day lives – continue to do extraordinary things to ensure a better life for their families and their local communities. This includes the Windrush generation. Sixty five years ago, this pioneering group of men and women arrived at Tilbury Docks with little more than a suitcase in their hand. Yet, ever since, the transformative and remarkable effect they’ve had on British business, politics, culture, arts, sport and elsewhere, is clear to see.

For all of us, whatever our background, this is our history. This is Britain’s history.

And I want to wish everyone – across the UK – involved in organising or attending events throughout October an enjoyable and successful Black History Month.

* Nick Clegg is the MP for Sheffield Hallam

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  • Good to see Clegg supporting this.

  • I think Nick should consider why the Lib Dem membership and MPs looks more like the EDL than a multicultural modern party. Then he might stop talking nonsense about Jazzy B revolutionizing the British music scene and get into some Dennis Bovell. I find this sort of thing incredibly patronising and embarrassing; a distraction from the very real problems the party faces in trying to be representative of everyone.

  • @Dave3000: “the Lib Dem membership and MPs looks more like the EDL…”

    I thought it was more like the RHL.

  • Richard Shaw 1st Oct '13 - 12:37pm

    “I think Nick should consider why the Lib Dem membership and MPs looks more like the EDL than a multicultural modern party.”

    I think Dave3000 should consider looking beyond the MPs and at, for example, Nick’s own local party in Sheffield which I am proud to say has a diverse mix of genders and people from different ethnic and social-economic backgrounds among its members, Councillors and council candidates and is indeed very ably led by Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed.

    Yes, we can do better to attract people from more diverse backgrounds but I find it offensive to compare the party with the EDL and everything that comparison implies.

  • So we should ignore the problem and focus on the good things? As long as you’re happy, I suppose it doesn’t matter that we’ve failed to get a single black MP in all these years and we should be happy that we’ve got some councillors that aren’t old white men. To clarify, I wasn’t saying the Lib Dems are like the EDL – I’m saying the demographics of the membership are similar, nearly completely white with tokenistic representation of ethic minorities. I’m drawing a comparison between the way these 2 organisations choose to publicly represent themselves as regards minority voters. You can disagree and excuse all you like, but the facts remain – the Lib Dems have failed to achieve anything like a proportionate membership and parliamentary party.

    I think it’s deeply shameful, we must improve on the numbers of ethnic candidates we field if we’re not to look ridiculous delivering speeches on Black History month. Less talk – more action.

  • Michael Parsons 4th Oct '13 - 11:39am

    If, as I believe, skin colour is of absolutely no importance, and that people should be judged by intelligence, ability and commitments etc, why (unless we can line up rows of otherwise competent rejects) does any of this matter at all? Unless, of course, would-be applicants are being repelled if they think they are being patronised, or taken only for “coconuts” (black outside, white within), in which case we need to make sure we are frank, non-Tory and honest in our approach, and as far as possible not deceived, even though many Liberals voted for a Clegg who seems to be proving himself a master of False Flag politics..

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