Black History Month: Saluting Sisters

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October is Black History Month. Black History Month stands as a momentous occasion, signifying the imperative recognition and celebration of the invaluable contributions made by black individuals to British society. It serves not only as a platform to honour their achievements but also as an opportunity to ignite inspiration and empowerment among future generations. 

This year, the theme is "Saluting our Sisters," which emphasises the pivotal role that black women have played in shaping history, instigating transformative change, and nurturing communities. This year's commemoration will spotlight pioneering black women who have left a lasting impression in fields ranging from literature, music, fashion, sports, business, politics, academia, social and healthcare, and beyond. 

Tessa Sanderson (1956 – today)  
Tessa Sanderson was the first British black woman to win an Olympic gold medal (in 1984). She spent her incredible 17-year career at the top of her game in international javelin throwing. Since retiring from athletics, Sanderson has presented the sports news on Sky and also runs her own sports management company. She was awarded an OBE in 1998 for her work with sports and charities. 

Baroness Lawrence (1952 – today)   
Baroness Lawrence tirelessly campaigned for police reform after her son, Stephen, was murdered at a bus stop in South East London in 1993. She was awarded an OBE in 2003 for services to community relations and appointed Baroness in 2013.  In April 2014, she was named as Britain's most influential woman in the BBC Woman's Hour power list. 

Mary Seacole (1805-1881)  
Mary Seacole was born in Jamaica but moved to England in 1854. There, she appealed to the War Office to send her to the Crimea as an army nurse, but was refused. Undeterred, she raised the necessary funds and travelled anyway - setting up the 'British Hotel' in Kadikoi on the Crimean peninsula, to deliver a "mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers". 

When she died, most of her great work in nursing was forgotten - often overshadowed by that of Florence Nightingale - but in 1991, she was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit and in 2004, was voted the greatest black Briton. 

Margaret Busby (1944-today)  
Margaret Busby is an extremely influential name in the world of publishing.  That's because she was Britain's youngest and first black female book publisher, when she co-founded the publishing company Allison & Busby in 1967, alongside a man called Clive Allison.  The company didn't only publish work by black writers, but it did help to make the names of many black writers more well-known. 

Talking about writing today, Margaret says: "Technology permits you to be your own publisher and editor, which should encourage a lot of us - especially young people - to write and express themselves." 

"Write because you really enjoy it and learn to be a good reader because the best writers read voraciously. Get to know the best books out there." 

Find out more about Black History Month - 

Film at the Folk Hall Community Cinema - Till

This year, the special screening in celebration of Black History Month is Till.  There will also be a talk from YREN (York Racial Equality Network).

Date: Friday 27 October 2023, Doors open: 18.30pm

Cost: £5 includes food 

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite - book a ticket or in pre-book via the Folk Hall reception.  Closing date for tickets: 24 October 2023


YREN - York Racial Equality Network (YREN) was established in the early 1990s and registered as a Charity in 2001. YREN provide independent, impartial information and mutual support to individuals within the minority ethnic community who are experiencing racial harassment, victimisation, discrimination, or isolation. They aim to promote awareness of the needs of minority ethnic people in York and North Yorkshire.