Labour Party demands that Hillingdon Council re-introduce events to mark Black History Month fell on deaf ears despite impassioned demands from Labour councillors that the events be reinstated.
Black History Month is a worldwide celebration and commemoration of the role black people play and have played in our nations and communities. It celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and runs from Monday, October 1, to Wednesday, October 31.
The council chose to abandon specific Black History Month events in 2007 in favour of multi-ethnicity events to represent all the ethinic groups in the borough but Labour politicians tabled a motion on Thursday, September 13, demanding the Conservative ruling group bring them back.
Councillor June Nelson addressed the meeting saying:
“The significance of Black History Month is both a celebration and remembrance of those members of the black community who have contributed to the history and development of the UK.
“It highlights stories of our achievements and contribution to social political and cultural development in UK.
“These achievements must no longer be hidden from our children – both black and white – growing up in the UK.
“Many aspects of British society would be unrecognisable without the contribution of multi-ethnicity groups.”
“In this month’s Hillingdon People magazine, there is a two-page spread celebrating the September culture and arts festival – there is nothing in this programme celebrating black history here in Hillingdon, one of the most multicultural of boroughs.
“I am calling on this council to reconsider re-introducing Black History Month for our community, young and old, living in this borough. If this falls on deaf ears, it is an affirmation of the status quo, and Hillingdon will continue to be regarded as a lip-service paying borough to the idea of inclusivity.”
But the motion was voted down by the Conservative group.
Councillor Richard Lewis who is cabinet member for culture and heritage, responded saying he felt in 2008 the emphasis was rightly changed and moved to celebrating the “diverse range” of community groups across the borough.
“I believe social cohesion is achieved by integration and by opening up opportunities for all. We must root out discrimination whether it relates to the colour of someone’s skin, their sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
“We’re inordinately proud of our diverse communities which have united incredibly well under the Hillingdon flag.
“It would be impossible to celebrate different events for each of our different ethnic groups and it might even serve as a barrier to discrimination.”
He said the focus for celebration this year would be the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in which “multi-ethnic groups from across the commonwealth” took part.