Since 1987, October has been Black History Month in the UK.
During this month the contributions and achievements of Black people in the UK are remembered, reclaimed, and celebrated. Importantly, it is also a month where action is taken to learn from the mistakes of the past, tackle racism in the present, and improve for a better future all year round. The history of Manchester as a city intertwines with Black histories - not just those in the past, but the ones that are being built right now. This Black History Month, we'll be showcasing some of the community projects and young people that we have funded in recent times; groups and individuals whose work or individual brilliance make up a part of what it means to be Black and Manc.
There are well-known moments in this shared history such as the 5th Pan-African Congress, where delegates from across the globe met in 1945 at Chorlton-On-Medlock Town Hall. The Manchester Congress was one of eight that has been held since 1919, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant events that led to the decolonisation of the African continent. Attendees included future African leaders, such as Kwame Nkrumah who became prime-minister of Ghana as it declared independence from British rule. There is a plaque commemorating the momentous event that you can see for yourself on the building on Cavendish Street. Learn more about the Congress here.
There are also forgotten histories where work has needed to be done to reclaim and champion them, like that of Len Johnson, a boxing champion from Clayton in East Manchester. Johnson became the first non-white boxer to win the British Empire Middleweight title in 1926, but racist policies by the British boxing authorities meant they never recognised his victory, despite Australia doing so. Len went on to live a long life, opposing racism and fighting for worker's rights in Manchester and across the country. He was also invited to the previously mentioned 5th Pan-African Congress! Learn more about Les' life here.
But it is not all about the past, there are modern Black Mancunians making history right now. Whether they're national icons in sport and music like Marcus Rashford and Bugzy Malone, or the unsung heroes making differences every day in communities across Manchester.
Our work at We Love MCR Charity is carried out with the aims of making Manchester a better, fairer, more compassionate place to call home, and to create opportunities for the next generation of Mancunians. That cannot be done without acknowledging the landscape of modern Manchester and ensuring our work supports it wholeheartedly.
Supporters of We Love MCR will know that we carry out these aims primarily through our Stronger Communities Fund and Manchester's Rising Stars Fund, and we work hard to reflect the strength in diversity of Manchester in our awards. Manchester is a city where 65% of children are estimated to be from Black, Asian, and minority ethnicity backgrounds. We can proudly say that the majority of our MRSF grants go to ambitious and talented young people from these backgrounds, a significant proportion of which are young Black Mancunians.
The Deputy Lord Mayor of Manchester, Cllr Yasmine Dar, speaks about this work in her capacity as one of our many exceptional Trustees:
Keep an eye out on our social media channels throughout Black History Month 2022.