Throughout October the UK will celebrate Black History Month, a chance to reflect and remember the great men and women of the Black community.
For white people this means actually sitting back, shutting up and listening instead of carrying on about why there is no white history month. If you think the white race needs a history month then you need to wake the fuck up. White people have written the majority of modern* history books we read, leaving out many people who shaped our world because they weren’t white.
Black History Month is still relevant, it’s still important and it will be until equality means all are equal, including who is in the history texts we are taught at school.
Except for the civil rights movement, can you tell me anything about Black History? Even I admit I’m a bit ignorant to Black History and in the run up to Black History Month it got me thinking how I’d taken this for granted and remained ignorant. Not because I wanted to remain ignorant, but because I simply neglected to make the time and I cannot apologise for that enough.
So, I took the time to make time to learn more about history and how Black people helped shape the world we live in today.
During the world wars black men were on the front lines; right at the very front! They were cannon fodder for the Germans to pick off. Even when they weren’t considered slaves in the UK, they were still treated as less important. Not just black britons but men from the West Indies too, who travelled at their own expense to volunteer. I had never been told about Walter Tull when we learnt about the first world war in school. He was a celebrated soldier, he suffered from shell shock and still went back to fight in the battle of the Somme. How is he not one of the first heroes mentioned during these classes? I know he died in the second battle of the Somme but still, he deserves recognition along with the white heroes. It’s shameful that black heroes are left by the wayside.
It’s not just during war time that black men and women have made a lasting impression on our world as it is today, but the black community has given us some of the best invention ever (in my opinion).
Frederick M Jones gave us air conditioning in 1949 and the thermostat control in 1960… My summer body gives thank to this man. Imagine life without being able to crank up the AC in a car when it’s scorching but pissing it down!
In 1889 William H Richardson created the baby buggie. Yup, that’s right, those beds on wheels that saved you carrying a baby and 4 bags of shopping were invented by a black man. Gonna be honest, this is the one that means the most to me, as a mother. How would the world suck with a buggy in the first few years?
Elevators, where would we be without them? Being able to jump in the lift when you have a baby in a pram is a godsend. You can thank the genius Alexander Miles for the invention of the elevator in 1867.
Thomas Marshall gave us the fire extinguisher in 1872. He has literally saved thousand of people with his invention. I can’t even begin to put a figure on the number of people who wouldn’t be here today without the fire extinguisher.
In 1890, a man named Walter B Purvis invented the small but mighty fountain pen. Quills became obsolete and now we rely on pens every day of our lives.
Robert F Fleming Jr created the guitar in 1886. Could you imagine a world without Hendrix or Santana? How dull would life be without guitars?? El Mariachi wouldn’t even be a film without guitars.
Ok, this one is my favourite as someone with a lot of hair… The hair brush. Can we all give thanks now to Lydia O Newman who invented this truest friend to a head of long hair in 1898.
I’m sure you hate creased clothing as much as I do… without Sarah Boone we wouldn’t have the ironing board. They’ve been about now since 1887. I hate ironing, not gonna lie but I loathe creases. There’s no need for them.
Keeping our houses safe since 1893 with his invention, the lock, is Washington A Martin. Not just our houses and possessions but our pets and children, our parents and partners have all been kept safe thanks to Washington A Martin.
Another life saving invention, used by medical professionals across the globe, the stethoscope. Invented in 1976 by Thomas A Carrington. How many times has a doctor, a nurse or a paramedic been able to check out someone’s lungs without one?
Modern life would be insufferable without the phone transmitter. Raise your hands and thank Granville T Woods who gave us this life changing piece of technology.
In 1923 Garrett Morgan created the traffic light. Another invention that has gone on to save countless lives and will continue to do so long after we are gone.
There are many, many more inventions by black people that have changed our world for the better. Just ask Google and you can get a long list of them. I challenge you to see what you can find that you couldn’t live without.
If you want to learn more about black history (and you should) visit www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk
I can’t apologise enough for remaining ignorant to the way black people have been left out of history and I will strive to learn more about the impact people of all colours have had on my life without my knowing.
*Modern history meaning the past 200 years.