As Black History Month UK comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on some of the truly amazing contributions that members of the Black community have made to society.
The limitation of Black History Month should never be seen as “This is the only time to celebrate.” It should be signified as a time where we can boost the achievements even more than we normally do. Our achievements are worth just as much as our white counterparts so we have the same right to shout about them.
This post will be a huge congratulatory piece to all black people for all of the truly amazing work that we are all doing. Let’s keep rising together!
This dapper looking man is Garrett Morgan. You may not know his face but you will definitely know his inventions. Some of his inventions include the gas mask, a revolutionised sewing machine, a hair-straightening product but his most recognisable invention to date is the updated version of the traffic light.
Son of a former slave freed in 1863, Morgan became a trailblazing African-American inventor with his patents that set the path for so many more. It’s amazing what a man with a vision can do despite only having elementary school education.
Whether you started being a fan after “Blinded by your Grace” or you were there right from the time he said “Shut Up”, it is clear that Stormzy has left his mark on the world by helping to introduce grime to the mainstream. With the help of many other grime greats such as Wiley, Giggs, Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah, and Kano, he helped to push Grime further than it has ever been before with him being the first every Grime artist to headline Glastonbury. Stormzy (Michael Omari) stands on the shoulders of giants whilst still supporting so many others such as Krept and Konan, AJ Tracey, Little Simz and Dave and Fredo who he brought on stage during his performance at Glasto. Outside of music, Stormzy is providing Cambridge scholarships to young black students and has started his own publishing imprint with Penguin books called #Merky Books. At age 26, Stormzy is continuing to pave the way for so many in music, education and literature to succeed.
Rosa Parks’ name is recognisable to so many for her impact on the civil rights movement in America and for standing her ground by not getting up from her seat. Fully embodying everything that I have grown to know a strong black woman to be, Parks’ action to not move for a white passenger sparked the nationwide efforts to end racial segregation. Imagine if we today had the same bravery that Parks had to boycott a service or company due to their racist views or attitudes, we would be able to have the same kind of impact that Parks had. Her impact influenced some people to carpool whilst others rode in African-American-operated cabs. However, most of the estimated 40,000 African-American commuters living in the city at the time had opted to walk to work on 5th December as she was on trial—some as far as 20 miles. Thank you so much for the sacrifices that you made for so many.
Whether you know her for her acting in Blackish, Grownish or The Sun is also a Star, her killer red carpet looks or her outspoken activism, Yara Shahidi is a force to be reckoned with. From speaking about gun reform, encouraging young people to vote or guested editing Teen Vogue with Rowan Blanchard, Shahidi does everything with grace and poise.
Being 19 years old, the Harvard student (Did you know that Michelle Obama wrote her letter of recommendation – Talk about women supporting women) pushes for change for many marginalised groups and stands up for what she believes in, similarly to Rose Parks. When she turned 18, she started an initiative called Eighteen x 18 that encouraged first-time voters to use their right to the best of their advantage.
So much of the future of Black Hollywood lies at her feet and I cannot wait to see the changes that she makes to the industry.
At the start of October, Dina Asher-Smith became the first British woman to win a major global sprint title as she stormed to victory in 200m at the World Championships.
That in itself needs a round of applause!
Asher-Smith has been consistently rising and setting the British athletics scene on fire. With her kind personality off the track and fierce, hard-working mindset on the track, she is truly one to watch and one that will continue to open more doors for other women like her!
Born in the amazing month of August, Sir Trevor Mcdonald has been a light for so many in British journalism. I remember growing up not being able to see myself reflected nowhere in the news other than the black men and women that were being vilified by the press… until I saw Sir Trevor Mcdonald. He brought the hard-hitting news stories that changed perspectives and helped many to understand about other communities. For me, Mcdonald is one of the people that I can remember being super inspired by as a kid. The way he carried himself, how he spoke, how he handled everything with grace and humility made me believe that I could be on TV one day. Even though I know the people I am writing about my never see this, I just want to say thank you to you all. Especially Sir Trev!
Whether you are a fan of her music, her acting or her fashion and beauty empire, Rihanna is a name that will go down in history. Earlier this year, LVMH announces the launch of a new luxury Maison, Fenty, developed by Robyn Rihanna Fenty. This was (And still is) such a huge deal.
Whether you like the style or not, Rihanna has left her mark on the world. With her recent Savage X Fenty show displacing inclusivity and diversity on 100, she is consistently spoken about highly by fashion royalty such as Anna Wintour. She has also graced the cover of Vogue 25 times in the last 10 years and has more US solo covers than any other black woman in history.
Maybe one day soon, we will get some more bangers from BadGalRiri herself, but for now, I am loving this business queen moment that has made her the richest woman in music for 2019.
I don’t quite remember when Reggie Yates’ work started to ignite creativity within me but everything he creates seems to either inspire me or spark deep questions about the world we live in. Hearing him speak on Black is the New Black on BBC Two in 2016 alongside Naomi Campbell, David Harewood, Thandie Newton, and David Olusoga made me really appreciate his artistry and the new direction he was going into with making phenomenal documentaries. He’s only just getting started!
I could go on for years talking about all of the black people that inspire me (Sir Lenny Henry, The Obamas, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ava Duvernay, The Smith family, Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Banjo, Lupita N’yongo, Michael B. Jordan, Guvna B, Pat MacGrath, Patricia Bright, Donel Mangena, Sharlene-Monique, Reece Wabara, William Adoasi, Steven Bartlett, Ice Cube, Tyler Perry, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Kaine Buffonge etc.) I don’t want to keep you reading all day long. I hope this post inspires you that you can make a difference wherever you are, no matter your starting position, you can make it to the time. We are all winners, we are all on the rise. Happy Black History Month!
Thank you for reading.