October is Black History Month in the UK, and here at History Matters we’re inviting contributions on the theme of black history, broadly defined. Based at the University of Sheffield, we publish articles about research and reflections on why history matters. We look at history behind the headlines, and think about parallels and differences between past and present.
The whole idea of Black History Month has prompted debate: does it relegate black history to just a month of the year? Last year Sherelle Davids of the LSE argued that, on the contrary, it needed to be celebrated. And there’s a real issue of under-representation of black people in the UK academy. Earlier this year a debate on the theme of ‘Why Isn’t My Professor Black?’, hosted at UCL, highlighted that just 0.4% of professors are black, compared to 6% of students.
We’d like to hear about your research on black history, and we’d like your reflections on the issues Black History Month raises. If you’d like to blog for us – whether in October or at any other time of year – please get in touch with Catherine Fletcher, the editor, with brief details of what you’d like to write.
Image: Detail from Portrait of a seated black child with hands crossed. Getty Museum Open Content Program. American, about 1857 – 1858. Hand-colored daguerreotype.
I think there may be a danger of being disjointed. I have been interested in history of Sheffield making a stand re abolition of Slavery. Not an easy stand to make from commercial stand point. Later there is the case of a “runaway slave” that appears in the papers in Sheffield. This was after the slave trade was abolished and the runaway was a young man from South Africa. The master had put out a reward for his return However keeping a slave was illegal. The papers were indignant and yet their description of the young man was more of an inferior slave. The ordinary man seemed to have a different view. The farmer who first met him saw he was hungry and fed him.As far as I can gather the young man moved into Sheffield found himself a job as a porter and married a local girl,
I think there is much to explore re the working class attitude to slavery especially in the early days before there was state education and the state view of colonisation. Looking at Chartist speeches they would seem to think as everybody equal and oppressed. Wilberforce had supported the Gales newspaper the Register in Sheffield but withdrew his patronage when the Gales like the rest of Sheffield were strong supporters of complete abolition of slavery. People like Ann Rawson continued campaigning long after trade abolitionists had gained their victory.
So black history without the relevant non-black history is not the whole history.
It would be great to know what’s happening at U of Sheffield re BHM and Black History in general? Why the call for contributions? It would also be of interest to know how many Black students are studying History as we are planning a conference on the issue!