Something I love about Black History Month is that there’s no single organisation responsible for it. There’s no parent body telling everyone what to do, or deciding who can join in.
Instead, it’s a genuine national burst of activity in which anyone – individuals, community groups, schools, universities, local authorities, museums – can get involved. Concerts and exhibitions in London. Poetry jams and theatre in Birmingham. Dance lessons in Nottingham.
In my own richly diverse constituency of West Bromwich East, people got together last week to celebrate the launch of Black Country Roots. It’s a new book which celebrates the stories of the Afro-Caribbean community in the Black Country, and the huge contribution they have made to our area.
My friend Councillor Jackie Taylor tells me the launch was a brilliant occasion, filled with pride and camaraderie - as well as amazing live music and food. Sadly I was in London on parliamentary business, so wasn't able to go along. By all accounts, I missed a brilliant afternoon and good old knees-up.
Many of the people featured in the book first came over to Britain to support rebuilding after the second world war, working in transport, industry and of course - our NHS. We have made great strides in this country in the area of racial understanding and equality since then. We can’t stop now.
As Jeremy mentioned in his Black History Month message, Labour has just launched a new nationwide consultation to develop policy that helps fight discrimination and promote racial equality. If you have something to contribute to that debate you can get involved through the Labour Policy Forum website - please do.
This month has already been a brilliant celebration of the heritage, identity and pride of BME communities. All the groups and individuals who have gotten involved this year deserve our thanks and congratulations.
For what remains of it, have a fabulous Black History Month!
Black Country Roots was produced and published by Multistory - a brilliant not-for-profit arts organisation in West Bromwich. For details on how to buy a copy of the book, get in touch with them on Facebook.