Thousands join virtual local Black History Month conference
More than 2,200 people from across the world attended a virtual South West Black History Month conference
More than 2,200 people from across the world attended a virtual South West Black History Month conference, which saw Wiltshire Council work closely with a variety of partners to host a range of impressive and powerful speakers.
The conference was held to mark Black History Month 2021, which is taking place throughout October. The theme of this year's Black History Month is 'Proud to be'. Black History Month is an annual global event observed in the UK to celebrate the culture, history and achievements of African and Caribbean communities. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and positive contributions from black and other ethnic minority communities and address inequalities that sadly still exist in society today.
The speakers at the conference included historian and writer David Olusoga OBE; broadcaster and campaigner, June Sarpong OBE; author and brother of Stephen Lawrence, the Rt Hon Stuart Lawrence; and former professional footballer Anton Ferdinand.
The event was made possible thanks to the generous support of a number of partners, that worked with the council and provided funding. They include Wiltshire Police, the Office of the Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, University of Bath, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bath Spa University, Herman Miller Cares, NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Environment Agency, Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC),and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Includability, a company that strives to provide support to achieve diversity and inclusion in workplaces, showed its support to the conference in a unique way, by stating during the event: "Today we plant 1,000 trees in honour of Black History Month and in support of the extraordinary and inspirational guest speakers who will share their story."
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said:
The response to the conference has been tremendous and we hope everyone came away enlightened, enthused and educated.
The number of those watching demonstrates how much people value conversation, discussion and stories about black history, culture and the issues of today. We'll certainly look at other ways to showcase and celebrate the diversity of the country and county.
We'd like to thank all the partners involved for their support, as this event wouldn't have been possible without it.
Each organisation involved was determined to curate a line-up together that provided unique perspectives and insight and that's exactly what we got. I thank David, June, Stuart and Anton for each of their honest, passionate and heartfelt talks, and through the comments already received it's clear they certainly made an impact on those watching.
Rt Hon Stuart Lawrence, said:
First of all let me start by saying thank you for inviting me to come and speak to such a wide ranging international audience and for letting me share a little piece of my own personal journey about how I feel I fit into black British history, culture and beyond.
With this year's theme being 'proud to be' I wanted to highlight what I'm most proud about. I'm proud to be black British and to have the values that my parents gave me, values that guide me to understand that the colour of my skin does not matter or dictate my place in society. I have a voice and that voice deserves to be heard and that's what being part of this great event has allowed me to do. It was a really impactful event and I look forward to coming back next year.
Anton Ferdinand, said:
It was great to be part of such a much needed thoughtful event, so much relevant information and experiences were shared. These are the conversations we need to be having to help move things forward in the right way.
More information about Black History Month can be found at Black History Month website.