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Black History Month 2023: #SalutingOurSisters and celebrating Black environmental leaders

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Black History Month is an occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British society.

Here, we have shared a selection of resources, people to follow and local events, as we celebrate Merton's richly diverse community whilst continuing to learn, do better, and reflect on the marginalisation of Black people within the environmental movement.

Saluting Our Sisters

Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE, Black History Month

"Black History Month is a time of celebration, recognition and sombre reflection. Black people from African and Caribbean communities have been an integral part of British history and society long before 1948. Despite the epidemic of racism and unfairness affecting black people, we continue to break barriers and use our creativity and innovation to influence lives today. The theme Saluting Our Sisters plays homage to black women who had contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced."

Anti-racism and the environmental movement

'We must find fair and equitable solutions to the climate and ecological crises that make the world a better place for those who are hardest hit. The environmental movement, including us, have been guilty of leaving the most affected out of conversations that involve them. We must make anti-racism central to our network of groups so that we create a more diverse and representative movement.' - Friends of the Earth

"We’re not saying that climate change affects only Black people. However, it is communities in the Global South that bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change, whether physical – floods, desertification, increased water scarcity and tornadoes – or political: conflict and racist borders." - Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, Black Lives Matter UK

15 Black Environmental Leaders to Follow

Yale University

In honour of Black History Month, Yale University has spotlighted 15 Black environmental thought leaders and activists who are redefining what it means to be an environmentalist and nature lover in the 21st century.

All My Environmental Heroes Are Black Women

Leah Thomas (@greengirlleah) - published in Vogue

'At times, when I was the only Black student in an environmental class or the only Black employee at an environmental organization, it was easy to feel like I didn’t belong. But as I discovered the stories of Black women who had come before me in this space, I began to feel empowered. I developed a deeper understanding that my ancestors were also environmental heroes who cared for the earth in their own way. Today, Black women are reshaping the future of environmentalism in every field, from ecology to fashion and beyond.'

Mothers of the movement: Black environmental justice activists reflect on the women who have paved the way

The 19th

'For Black History Month, The 19th spoke with current leaders in the environmental and climate justice movements about the trailblazing Black women in their own lives who have inspired and shaped their work.'

10 Young Black Climate Activists to Watch

Britt Hawthorne (she/they)

Antiracist educator, teacher, speaker, visionary, and advocate

'A heartbreaking fact of our times: All living people today were born into the climate crisis. Whether someone’s 8 or 85, we all live on a planet whose climate is rapidly declining due to human impact. But here’s the thing—while climate catastrophes currently affect us all, it’s our youngest generation, and in particular, young People of the Global Majority, that will suffer the greatest burden. Thankfully, there are lots of inspiring young Black climate activists that are bringing light to the intersection of climate change and racism.'

Reading List: Black History Month UK

The Exact Editions’ Black History Month UK Reading List has been created in collaboration with 20 publishers, who have recommended 38 books that recognise the contributions of black people around the world, celebrate black history and confront racism.

Climate Reframe: Find climate experts, campaigners and advocates living and working in the UK

The climate and environment movement is predominantly white and its lack of diversity hampers climate action. To help redress this imbalance, Climate Reframe was launched in 2019 as a list of 100 UK-based environmental and climate justice activists, experts and advocates from racialized minority backgrounds.

Events in Merton

Merton Libraries will be celebrating Black History Month throughout October with a wide range of events and activities, including story time sessions for children, writing workshops for adults, film screenings and walks. All activities are free but need to be booked in advance on our Eventbrite.

Join BAME VOICE and Merton's Climate Action Group on Saturday 28 October at Centre Court in Wimbledon from 11am-5pm for a celebration of Black History Month. This year's focus will be on local climate action.

The day will feature inspirational speakers, performances from international artists, local schools, dancers and drummers and is an opportunity to learn how local BAME communities can play a role in making Merton and our planet a fairer and better place to live. Keep an eye on Centre Court's news and events page for future updates or BAME Voice's Facebook page.

Finding support for racism and mental health

Mind - Mental Health Charity

'If you experience racism as a Black person, it can leave you feeling unsafe, unwelcome, and like you don’t have a fair chance of succeeding. If you're finding things tough, we want you to know you're not alone.'

Follow Black History Month 2023 on Twitter @BhmUK


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