Celebrating the local Black community in Hastings

St Leonards and Hastings Alliance for Diverse Ethnicities (SHADE), Black Butterfly and Hastings Borough Council are joining in the celebration of Black History Month this October.

WE ARE HERE is a collaborative programme of Covid-friendly events, created by members of SHADE, Black Butterfly and the local Black community. Maria Nabirye of SHADE and Dawn Dublin of Black Butterfly, explained that: “the pandemic and global racial reckoning highlighted the need, more than, ever to come together as a community to combat the systemic inequities faced by the Black community.”

WE ARE HERE is both a celebration and a statement of fact,” they continued, “a declaration of our rights to be seen and acknowledged as contributors to British Society, of how we are entwined historically and how we would like the history books of the future to be written.”

And as an American once said: “Someone is sitting in the SHADE today because a tree was planted a long time ago.”

To see the programme of free events including the Walk with us cultural trail celebrating the past and present of Black people in Hastings & Rother, visit www.we-are-here.org 

Speaking for the council, the leader, Cllr Kim Forward, explained that Covid has prevented the council organising any local events this year. “However, we are lighting up Bottle Alley throughout the month of October to celebrate Black History Month.” She also pointed out that the final two submissions from Black Lives Matter will be on show at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. 

In fact Cllr Forward feels that Black history should be recognised and celebrated all year: “[It] is an opportunity to focus our recognition and celebration of the outstanding contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made to our country, and more locally our town, over many generations,” she says, “from business, law and education to technology, sport and the creative arts.”

She also added that the council acknowledges and recognises the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on members of the Black community. “We are committed, and will be undertaking work, to reassess the changing needs of all of the town’s communities in light of the impact of Covid-19. The point of this work is to ensure we better understand these needs and can create a fairer society.” 

As part of this work, which will underpin the town’s recovery efforts, the council will be updating its equalities and human rights charter.

To find more information about Black History Month nationally visit blackhistorymonth.org.uk

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