Black History Month: 'It's an opportunity to explore our past and showcase the best of us'

Black History Month: 'It's an opportunity to explore our past and showcase the best of us'

October is Black History Month - the theme this year is celebrating black voices.

The Derry News has therefore taken the opportunity to share interviews with black men and women based in the city.

Today, Beverly Simpson, who spoke passionately at the Black Lives Matter rally in the city in June, believes that Black History Month should be about sharing that history with others while also recognising black unity.

She also highlights the need for schools and media to amplify black voices.

Beverly Simpson (48) from South America is a nurse living in Derry since 2005. 

Describe Blackness in one word: "INTEGRITY."

Black voices readers should look out for: "Think Oprah Winfrey, think Serena Williams, think Martin Luther King, Tiger Woods, Bob Marley. In every area our voices can be heard." 

Inspiring Black leaders: "Rosa Parks. Maya Angelou. Our women are the backbone of our culture and resilience. Black voices bring inspiration."

Who has something to say about being Black in Northern Ireland or further afield?: "Lilian Seenoi-Barr ensures our voices can be heard."

Beverly says Black History Month means "recognition as a people whose culture can offer so much. It means unity as a people.

It means appreciation for one's journey in life."

She celebrates it by showing appreciation for the sacrifices her ancestors made "so I can be free and enjoy civil liberty".

She also likes to "share my history with others".

"I love my unique Blackness," she says.  

"I love my colour and my hair. My Blackness comes with an ability to appreciate life in its fullness."

Every Black person has something to say and this should be celebrated, "Our young people have a lot to say about being Black anywhere in the world. 

"They are born with the odds stacked against them because of the colour of their skin. 

"Each of us has something to say. Our journey is unique."

While some Black people have reservations about commemorating Black history month Beverly views it as "an opportunity to showcase the best of us". 

"It provides an opportunity to explore our past of untold stories not in the history books written by the victors who are our oppressors," she said. 

"It’s an opportunity to reach out and embrace other races. It’s an opportunity for self-awareness."
Amplifying Black voices is a job for everyone to get involved in.

More needs to be done in every sphere of life, be it government, business, or civil society to truly listen and take action based on what Black people are saying is their experience and what their needs are.

"Because we are the only ones who can tell our story," she says.

"Public and private institutions should ensure every Black person working in their institution has a voice. 

"If they don’t have any then they need to ask themselves if they are diverse enough and who represent Black voices in their institutions. 

"We also need schools and media to also amplify our voices."

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