Black History Month – October 2021

By Perry Timms

In the UK in October, it’s Black History Month.

Why is this important and why is there no White History Month? 


Well, being crass, every month it’s that. 


But spotlighting the contributions from people of colour throughout history needs to be brought to the attention of everyone for that reason alone.


Ever heard of Olaudah Equiano? No? Look him up. Kidnapped at 11 years old from Africa, his journal tracks Olaudah’s slavery to the Captain of slave ships until he bought his freedom in 1766. A virtual unknown to many, he played a big role in the anti-slavery movement, and his book The Interesting Narrative and other writings is my reading this month.


Heard of Berry Gordy Junior? Billie Holliday? George Clinton? Gil-Scott Heron? Curtis Mayfield? Afrika Bambaata? Jazzie B? Linton Kwesi Johnson? Pauline Black? These are some of the names I’ll be featuring in my blog post series to celebrate Black History Month through the lens of music and its links to societal and work changes.


Because Black Music has been my saving grace. Finding myself as a teenager through music, imbued me with a sense of understanding about people different to me, And led me to understand apartheid, Windrush, the Civil Rights movement and the work and words of Dr Martin Luther King Junior & Malcolm X. And yes, Nelson Mandela.


So I’m sharing that deep respect for artistry in one form that gave people of colour a voice (and a living) at a time of segregation and injustice. Injustices that still prevail, sadly.


My all-time favourite album is What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. Protest, consciousness, and I’ve called it an epoch moment in musical history.


Through this medium then, I’ll be celebrating what Black Music has done for me, and others and its part to play in bringing attention, activism and action to equalise the chances in life we all deserve, whatever the colour of our skin.


Blog posts, playlists and purpose. As Sam Cooke and Otis Redding sang “A Change Is Gonna Come”. And the final word to Aretha Franklin. Respect.