Black History Month
Originating in the United States as a way of remembering significant contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made over many generations, Black History Month is observed annually and has been celebrated in the UK for nearly 40 years. Now a national celebration, it honours all black people and their often unheralded accomplishments throughout history.
Albion Court and Clare Court Care Homes in Birmingham hosted a month-long collection of events to celebrate black culture and history and to recognise the diversity within their resident groups. Black History Month fell in October, and the homes got busy with a huge range of activities; from dressing in African and Afro-Caribbean dress to poetry recitals, music and reggae singing, and of course the cuisine.
Ita Gooden, a.k.a. Miss Culture Jam, joined Clare Court to speak about black history through a mixture of theatre and music, including African drumming, poetry and African and Caribbean folk dancing. She commented, “The homes celebrated black history positively, by embracing the culture of their residents, thereby enriching their lives. As a performer, it was a particular joy to see those residents living with dementia reacting to familiar cultural music, songs, drama and dance that they recognised. It was a very nostalgic moment of interaction between carers and residents.”
Albion Court hosted ‘Beat It Percussion’ with Lynn Kay, which offered a therapeutic session with authentic African percussion instruments, and Clare Court invited a steel band trio called Caribbean Melodies. Resident Joseph Ward said, “The steel band were excellent. If I had the money, I would hire them every day, invite all my family and have a party. We would listen to steel bands in St Kitts where I come from.”
Family history presentations, such as the ‘Chronicles of a Rastaman’ by Ken McLean, provoked discussion between residents evoking their life memories. The homes also had an immersive experience, where they explored Windrush through all five senses. Whether it was reminiscing or learning something new, there was something for everyone at these events.
Clare Court Home Manager, Kim Young, emphasised the importance of celebrating these events, “Black History Month gives residents, relatives and staff the opportunities to reflect on the diverse histories of people of African and Caribbean descent while educating and promoting understanding from that outside of black communities.”
Article by Helen Bates, Marketing Executive for Welcome Home Issue 12.