Black History Month is one of the most prominent cultural celebrations of the year. In Liverpool a host of arts and cultural organisations, universities and businesses have created an impressive programme.

Culture Liverpool are showcasing the talent and vibrancy of the city’s Black communities, and welcome national and international artists, activists, historians and commentators. Here’s a snap shot of what to expect: Mayor Joanne, the first black woman UK city mayor demonstrates history in the making; Blue Saint and a posse of WoW Young writers take over Tate Liverpool: Professor Stephen Small Zooms in from California; Betty Vandy and Nazeem bring culinary and musical flavours from West Africa; Lorraine Maher, explores what it means to be black and Irish; Malik Al Nasir shares his letters to Gil Scott Heron and Hip-Hop artist Nicky Blaze will be 20 Stories High.

As well as a time to celebrate, Black History Month is a time for reflection. On the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Uprisings we explore the progress we, as a society, have made towards true racial equality. With Kim Johnson, MP and activists from across UK inner cities, following the largest Black Lives Matter Protests outside of the US, we explore the next steps down the road of social justice towards a society in which our children can see what they want to be and we ask: really, how far have we come?

ARTS and community organisations across Liverpool will be coming together throughout October to mark this year’s Black History Month. Driven by the Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) and supported by Culture Liverpool, the annual programme of events is a whole-city approach to creatively examining the role of black people in the city and beyond.

Join us as we debate, eat, sing and dance to the beat of the samba drum – from Merseyside to Cuba, Syria, Mexico, Colombia, Iraq, Jamaica, India, Zimbabwe, Chile, Nigeria, the Gambia and South Africa, celebrating black achievement and crucial black art. This is a month for everyone to share, participate, and to enjoy!

Workshops, debates, performances and film screenings will take place at venues across the city and include:

  • Breaking the Silence on the Slave Trade – 3 October. Performance at Ullet Road Unitarian Church.
  • What’s Your Story? Gambia – 14 October, Toxteth TV. Writing on the Wall on taking their flagship project to Africa.
  • International Perspectives: The Role of Arts, and Art Therapies on the Issue of Diversity and Mental Health – 15 October. Day of activities at Edge Hill University.
  • Routes & Roots – Festival of the African Diaspora – From 16 October. Community workshops featuring dance, crafts, music and other creative skills led by The Black And Brown Social Traders Network (BlaST). Participants will be able to showcase their skills and work at the Katumba Halloween Carnival.
  • BlackFest Hip Hop Dance For All – 19 October, Unity Theatre.
  • 1981 Liverpool 8 Uprisings 40th Anniversary Exhibition – From 22 October, Liverpool Central Library.
  • On Record Merseyside – From 23 October until 7 November. Building on the success of On Record 2020, 2021’s programme continues the celebration of Black music on Merseyside and its wider influence. Events include performances, a debate, and “Grime>Punk”, a one-day event that explores the idea that Grime is this generation’s Punk.
  • Uprisings 1981: A Commemoration – 24 October. An afternoon of discussion and performance at the Museum of Liverpool.
  • Katumba Halloween Carnival – 31 October. The Bombed Out Church and other city centre locations, including the official launch of The Black And Brown Social Traders Network (BlaST).

Additionally, from Friday 1 October, visitors to the city centre will also be able to enjoy a photographic exhibition of the Sky Arts Statues Redressed project in College Lane, Liverpool ONE, featuring images of all the installations which appeared in the city in the summer. A two-hour documentary on the project will be broadcast on Sky Arts on 18 October.

To mark the start of Black History Month, buildings across Liverpool, including the Three Graces, will be lit yellow and will also be lit again on 31 October to mark the month’s conclusion.

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Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said:

“Black History Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about Black Histories and to understand how the transatlantic slave trade and social history impacts on Black communities today.

“Racism and discrimination is an everyday occurrence for Black communities. This year’s programme not only promotes awareness of this but is also rigorously provocative, engaging, celebratory and fun.

“The variety of events reflects the energy of the organisations we have in this city and their relentless drive to make Liverpool an equal place for everyone. We are lucky to have them.”

Madeline Heneghan, Co-Director, Writing on the Wall, on behalf of COol said:

“The Creative Organisations of Liverpool (COoL) are proud to be part of Liverpool BHM2021.

“Year on year the programme grows to showcase black artistic and intellectual excellence through music, film, dance, literature, spoken word and debate. Forget the culture wars – Liverpool BHM2021 demonstrates the beauty of inclusivity and the power of culture as we continue to strive for genuine racial equality.”

Juliana Landim, Co-Director, Katumba/BrazUKa on behalf of BlaST, said:

“The Black And Brown Social Traders Network (BlaST) are thrilled to be part of the LiverpoolBHM 2021 programme of activities with our Routes & Roots – Festival of the African Diaspora.

“As a newly created network, but with a diverse and experienced group of organisations and individuals, we’re excited to engage the Liverpool audience in a wide range of educational, artisticand wellbeing-based activities of the Diaspora for Liverpool BHM2021, celebrating Liverpool’s diversity, promoting racial equality for all.”

Yaw Owusu, ON RECORD MERSEYSIDE Creative Director:

“Black Music and Black Music culture is such a large, but unheralded, part of what makes Liverpool a global music city.

“ON RECORD celebrates and explores that contribution and influence. We look forward to working with the various creative producers to entertain and educate throughout ON RECORD ’21and contributing to the excellent Liverpool BHM 2021 offer.”

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