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Black History Month at BGS

October is Black History Month. Its origins go back almost 100 years and its significance remains as relevant today as ever it was, representing a national celebration aiming to promote and celebrate Black contributions to British society and fostering a broader understanding of Black history in general.

At BGS, the History Department has shared a wide range of ideas and links to help pupils and staff explore and connect with our rich and diverse past – which you can access below. They will also lead a Senior School assembly on the Bristol Bus Boycott.

The Bristol Bus Boycott was a seminal moment in local and national history, but is something few Bristolians know much about. The Bristol Bus Station is home to a plaque but could we do more? As part of Black History Month, BGS pupils are being asked to think about how it should be remembered and to submit their ideas for a memorial – be it mural, statue, plaque, song or any other medium – together with a short explanation of why they think the boycott should be remembered in that way, to the History Department by the end of Black History Month.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bristol Bus Boycott, this Guardian article is a great introduction.

More from BGS History for Black History Month

Recommended reads
This is not an endorsement for any particular retailer – others are available! – but Waterstones have put together a fantastic range of both fiction and non-fiction titles which explore the theme of Black history. Click here to view: https://www.waterstones.com/black-history-month

Closer to home (and available to borrow for free!), the BGS Library blog has recommendations, with more on their Twitter feed: follow @BGSLibrarian


Explore the archives
‘A celebration of Black History is a celebration of British History’. Dive into a rich and diverse range of sources.

Click here for more info: https://artsandculture.google.com/project/black-cultural-archives

Something to watch

The History of Africa series explores Africa’s history, culture & heritage, written and told by Africans themselves. Incorporating more than thirty countries across Africa, the series explores the continent’s history from the beginning of time to the modern era with the goal to 'set history straight'.

Explore the Playlist on YouTube

Meet the richest man who ever lived

As part of the entertaining You’re Dead to Me history podcast series, discover Mansa Musa, the richest man ever, who literally put his Mali empire on the map. A must listen for young and old alike.

Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07nwybz

Should Colston have fallen?

Where do you stand on the statue debate? Is it better to remove controversial figures from the past or use them to provide a platform for education today?

If you were Mayor of Bristol for the day, what would you do with Colston’s statue?

Click here for more info: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-53004748#:~:text=Black%20Lives%20Matter%20demonstrators%20tore,before%20becoming%20a%20museum%20exhibit.

Was World War One really a global war?
Much of the fighting may have centered upon two great fronts, stretching through western and eastern Europe, but the impact of the war was felt far further afield. Based on Olusoga’s The World’s War (2014), explore narratives drawn from Algeria, Canada, China and India.

Click here for more info: https://lobworth.com/2020/05/14/what-do-the-stories-of-the-often-forgotten-armies-reveal-about-the-western-front/

Browse a timeline

Explore the Guardian's timeline of events and individuals that have shaped our world from Roman Britain through to the toppling of Colston’s statue in Bristol in 2020.

Visit an [online] museum or talk

Each year Bristol Museums put on a wide range of activities and events to recognise & celebrate Black History Month and 2020 is no exception… just slightly more online.

Click here for more info: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/tag/black-history-month/

Something to listen to
The BBC Witness History series offers short podcasts exploring a wide range of key moments and personalities from black and civil rights history. There are lots to choose from, but if you scan down the page you’ll see one on the Bristol Bus Boycotts. Have a listen.   

Click here for more info: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01h9dl0/episodes/downloads

Settle in with some popcorn
The influence of Hollywood means many of these films focus on Black history on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. How many of the list have you seen? Can you watch a new one this month?

Click here for more info: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2019/01/21/great-black-history-movies-watch-with-families-kids/2619269002/

Visit an online gallery
Which picture appeals to you most? Why? What can you find out about the life of the artist(s) who created them and the context in which they were working?

Click here for more info: https://artsandculture.google.com/usergallery/dQIyn3G1S_e2IA

Explore a collection
Choose a Collection Story which interests you and explore.  Now, compose an email to a Head of Subject explaining why you think this story should feature in lessons in the future. For example, if you choose Muhammad Ali, explain to Mr Lacey why every pupil in should learn something about him; if you choose Frances Albrier explain to Mr Hambly why her work was pivotal to the improvement of civil rights.

Click here for more info: https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories

Tackle a contentious question
Is it right to celebrate Black History Month?

Is a specific month dedicated to fostering a broader understanding of Black history helpful or hurtful? Does it go far enough? What about other traditionally marginalised groups within our society? Is what started as a US movement relevant for the UK?

We would love to hear your reasoned and researched views on such question as we consider ways in which we can best diversify and deliver a curriculum for the 21st century.

Click here for more info: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/black-history-monthretire-or-reboot/470124/

Read more about the work the BGS History department, and School, are already undertaking to diversify the curriculum on the BGS blog post from Head of History, Mr Hambly.