‘Proud To Be’: Black History Month

    ‘Proud To Be’: Black History Month

    Last week Black History Month UK launched its campaign to mark the 2021 celebration of the contributions and achievements made by black people to British society.

    The momentum gathered by the Black Lives Matter events in 2020 inspired the theme of the 2021 campaign which is called, ‘Proud To Be’. It invites Black people to share what they are proud of, be it black, black and LGBTQ+ or simply Proud To Be Me.

    The campaign aims to make this Black History Month personal and unique to individuals and communities. But it is launched in a year in which the whole country came together and almost burst with pride at the achievements of the England football team at Euro 2020. The Three Lions represented our nation with dignity and honour and, as the most diverse and progressive group of players in the tournament, they were truly representative of England in 2021.

    Young Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka, at the tender age of 19, burst onto the scene with some outstanding performances to win the hearts of a nation. But, with depressing predictability, once England lost the final to a well organised and unbreakable Italy, social media opened its doors to become a cesspit of racial abuse aimed at three England players, Saka included.

    Another megastar is investigating what life has been like for black people in Britain, a bit of a departure for Will.i.am. The Black Eyed Peas front man is producing a documentary, Blackprint, which explores black British history and contrasts it with his experiences. He grew up in a tough district of Los Angeles and he notes the big difference between being black in the USA and black in the UK is that ‘your police don’t have guns’.

    The BLM protests in the UK adopted the Black Eyed Peas song, ‘Where is the Love?’ and Will says the UK is a nice place to be, but Blackprint will show that it hasn’t been for everyone, for all of the time.

    Johnson Beharry VC

    In its 100th year of remembrance the Royal British Legion is marking the service and sacrifice of the thousands of men and women of African or Caribbean origin or descent. And the Legion is sharing 100 stories of heroes past and present through to the end of Black History Month.

    Black soldiers have served the British Army with pride and have made many sacrifices and acts of bravery to defend our nation’s and other country’s citizens. There are countless accounts of courage, and one which caught our eye is the story of Sergeant Johnson Beharry. Born in Grenada and now 42 years old, Beharry served in Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Iraq and he has been awarded the highest award for gallantry for extreme heroism in 2004, as one of only five living recipients of the award.

    While serving in Iraq, Beharry twice risked his life to save others. First, when ambushed by rocket grenades, his comrades were seriously injured and Beharry drove out of the fire-zone. He had to keep the hatch open to be able to see and was shot in the helmet; and once out of the ambush he pulled his platoon commander and gunner out of the vehicle to safety, still under heavy fire.

    Only one month later, once he had recovered from his wounds, Beharry’s vehicle was ambushed again, and this time a rocket grenade exploded six inches from his head, blasting shrapnel into his face and brain but, again, he drove out of the danger zone, passing out into a coma once safe.

    Black men and women have done so much to make Britain a better place to be, in sport, entertainment, defence and in everyday life in factories, shops and offices the length and breadth of our country.

    Proud To Be.


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