Black History Month: A significant year to celebrate Black History

Shauna Burdis

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The rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement during the summer of 2020, has shown the world the reality of racism and police brutality towards people of colour. This Black History Month gives us the opportunity to honour the movements work towards racial equality.

For those who took part in the momentous Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) across the world during the summer, this year’s Black History Month is potentially one of the most important since the occasion was first celebrated.

Black History Month gives society a chance to appreciate the achievements and the contributions people of colour have made through the ages. While also shinning a light on the many day-to-day barriers and struggles they still face. Even in a more progressive society, people of colour are still discriminated against and often face racism daily.

The killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, sparked protests that spread around the world. With demonstrations against institutionalised racism and police brutality still taking place months later. Although the social media momentum behind the Black Lives Matter Movement has quieted down, the movement is continuing its work against racial injustice by spreading into societies around the world and educating citizens through their universities, schools and  workplaces.

The Black Lives Matter Movement came to Ireland shortly after it rose in the US, with protests organised by Black Pride Ireland, that took place along O’Connell street and outside the US Embassy in June. It made the nation come to terms with the necessary progression Ireland needs to make towards providing complete racial equality and ending racism. Even Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, said that young people of colour are being treated as if they are not fully Irish.

Dublin City University (DCU) is among some of the third-level institutions in Ireland embracing the BLM movement and making sure that equal opportunity is provided for people of colour in universities.

In June the DCU Students’ Union showed their commitment to the BLM movement, by posting a statement on their social media’s saying that they “stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement in the US, here in Ireland and all over the world.

“To our students and all those who have been affected by recent events in the US, we support you and we stand with you. DCU is committed to campaigning for equality in our society.

“We can and must do better.”

Through celebrating Black History Month every October, it gives the nation an opportunity to join together, celebrate and understand Black heritage, culture and everything it brings to our society.

The intensity and importance of the BLM Movement sparked a commitment among millions of people and organisations around the world to educate themselves about Black History, culture and heritage, and how its importance is embedded in our societal roots.

In 2014, Ireland became the fourth country in the world to officially honour Black culture and heritage, following the lead of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

A network of groups came together through the Africa Irish Development Initiative (AIDI) to organise a series of events, to take place throughout Ireland every year during the month of October.

Back in 2014 when celebrating Black History Month was first introduced in Irish society, Zephrynus Okechi Ikeh, project Coordinator of Black History Month Ireland (BHMI), said that the initiative of the project is to tackle racism and discrimination, through helping people understand the different cultures within society.

The BLM Movement encouraged people of colour in Ireland to come forward about their experiences of racism in the country. An often misconception of Ireland is that racism doesn’t exist here, but that it not true. Racism has existed in Ireland for a very long time and it is important for people to take an opportunity like Black History Month to educate themselves on the different types of racism that people can experience, so society can actively work together to abolish racism.

This second civil rights movement has now come of age. The protests in support of Black Lives Matter marked the largest protest movement in the history of the US. In order to move forward and progress as a society, racism must be deconstructed and dismantled withing the nation’s strongest institutions.

The Black Lives matter movement will not disappear, with the momentum behind it, the movement is at its strongest, empowering the masses and uniting nations.

Shauna Burdis 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons