Wigan celebrates black history month after working with local people and community organisation

Life experiences of local people from different countries and black female role models have been explored as part of Wigan Council celebrating Black History Month.
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The cultural initiative, marked across the UK, raises awareness for the contributions that black people have made to society throughout history and highlights the issues that people from diverse communities can still endure. The 2023 theme is about celebrating the achievements of black women

Wigan Council has also been working with the borough-based community organisation Everything Human Rights to bring activities and information on black history and culture to the town.

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49 St Thomas More RC High pictures 1963-2008
Leigh Town Hall lit up in the colours of Black History MonthLeigh Town Hall lit up in the colours of Black History Month
Leigh Town Hall lit up in the colours of Black History Month
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Coun Paula Wakefield, lead cabinet member for equalities, said: “It’s important we support BHM to acknowledge the many positive contributions Black people have made to our communities throughout history and the positive difference they continue to make to our society today.

“We want Wigan borough to be a fairer, kinder place, where all residents can feel comfortable enough to be themselves and where we celebrate our diverse communities.”

Everything Human Rights was set up to support residents who have come to the borough from across the world.

Co-founder Tabeth Mabiza-Nhakaniso said: “It’s good that the achievements of Black women will be celebrated this year as the achievements of women generally are sometimes overlooked.

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“BHM is important to me as it’s a chance to shine a light on some parts of history that might otherwise be forgotten.

“I hope one day we won’t need to have themed days or months as I do worry that they might sometimes seem divisive, elevating different communities at different times throughout the year.

“Black history is part of British history and so should just be readily available, woven into the British story and celebrated as British history, not a separate entity.”

The borough’s activities were launched with both Wigan and Leigh town halls lit up in the BHM colours of red, yellow and green. Local women who have arrived in the town from different countries, including Tabeth, will be sharing their stories throughout the month.

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For those particularly interested in history, historian Brian Joyce will be discussing the often-overlooked stories of Black Victorians from Leigh and Wigan, at a free event led by the council’s Wigan and Leigh archives team at Leigh Town Hall on Saturday October 14, from 2pm to 3pm.

Places must be booked in advance via Eventbrite, by searching Black Victorians in Leigh and Wigan.

Creative writers of all ages can write a poem about an inspirational black woman, whether that is someone from history, current culture or a family member. Winning poems will be published later in the year as a legacy from this year's awareness month. To enter the national poetry competition, visit www.BlackHistoryMonth.org.uk

To read local people’s stories and find more information and workshop resources, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/BlackHistoryMonth or keep an eye on the council’s social media channels throughout October.

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Tabeth said: “The way forward is for us all to have more conversations with each other and take time to listen and ask questions.

“This way we can all find out about each other’s experiences, cultures, and the different issues we all face, and it will lead to more understanding.”