Celebrating the achievements in black African American history

Preston Black History Group's Black to the Future event
Preston Black History Group's Black to the Future event
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Black history is a shared record and should be celebrated with pride.

This ethos was first took on in 1924 by Carter G Woodson, who founded what would later become African (Black) History Month to educate the world about the country and its contributions to the past.

Preston Black History Group

Preston Black History Group

With that in mind, the Preston Black History Group was formed.

It took on many guises in its early days when it was set up in 2002, including Preston Black History Month Steering Group/October Steering Group, but as the organisation was keen to carry on events throughout the year, a more solid name was sought in 2011.

Its ethos is “researching, preserving and celebrating black history and culture – a shared history for all.”

Clinton Smith, chairman of the group, says: “One of our aims is to highlight the achievements of people of 
African descent.

“Black African Americans are not always given the acknowledgement they deserve. They have a lot of achievements but it is not always well documented, for example, Charles Richard Drew developed large-scale blood banks early in World War II.

“Traffic lights were put together by someone of black African descent – Garrett Morgan.

“Benjamin Bradley invented a steam engine for warships; Daniel Hale Williams pioneered the open heart surgery and William Purvis invented a fountain pen.

“There is a perception that black people do not contribute to mankind, but that is not true and that is what we are trying to showcase.

“We have a cultural pride and we want to be seen in a more positive light. Our knowledge should be shared. Black history should not be seen on its own – it is an integral part of world narratives. We are giving the bigger picture.”

The group acts to educate its members of black African American history, as well as organising awareness and cultural events throughout the year.

Their main meeting point is at Jalgos Sports and Social Club, once a month from January to October, with an AGM in November.

They also organise day trips, such as visiting Sambo’s grave, the burial site of a black cabin boy in a field in Sunderland Point; The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool; and Whitehaven, which was involved in the slave trade.

The group’s busiest time is October – Black History Month. Over the last four weeks, members have enjoyed Black to the Future at Fulwood Methodist Church, which celebrated the achievements of individuals; a fund-raising event at Jalgos Sports and Social Club in aid of a children’s home in Jamaica; a film show at UCLan; and a night of poetry, drama, dance and a masquerade with the Preston Montserrat and Friends Association at Jalgos.

Clinton adds: “We produce a range of activities for Black History Month and throughout the year.

“We develop ideas with groups and organisations to share our history and culture. We want to find out more so we can work to educate and inspire our families, community, future generations and ourselves.”

Other prominent celebrations include the group’s partnership with the Institution for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) at the University of Central Lancashire in 2014, which brings together research in black British art and culture, African Atlantic literature and culture, curatorial practice in African American and African art, and black Atlantic drama and performance.

The group had already cemented firm links with the university having previously marked the 70th anniversary of the infamous African American Black GI mutiny known as the Battle of Bamber Bridge, which happened in 1943.