Celebrating Black History Month in European Cities: A Vital Step in Countering Anti-Black Racism

Heidelberg – Germany

As we reflect on the recent Black History Month activities in European cities, it's crucial to underscore the significance of this annual celebration. Many ECCAR member cities conducted activities during the Black History Month 2024, contributing to the vital dialogue on promoting cultural diversity and combating anti-Black racism at the local level.

The Black History Month stands as a pivotal cornerstone in fortifying Black communities and cities in combating anti-Black racism while advancing the objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent. It underscores the imperative of rendering Black history visible in European cities, recognizing the profound contributions of Black communities to society, and integrating their experiences into the tapestry of European historiography. As Nigerian author Chinua Achebe profoundly stated, "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter," emphasizing the critical role of narrative ownership and representation in reshaping historical perspectives and fostering inclusivity.

Black History Month within the ECCAR

In line with ECCAR's 10 Points Action Plan, particularly Pillar 9, celebrating the Black History Month ensures fair representation and promotes diverse cultural expression and heritage in city life. However, it's essential to approach these activities collaboratively, engaging respectfully with Black communities and prioritizing their perspectives and narratives. Moreover, it is crucial that these initiatives are integrated into a comprehensive strategy to combat anti-Black racism, fostering collaboration with communities to avoid tokenization and structurally dismantle anti-Black racism.

Cities like for example  CologneHeidelberg, and Bologna have actively engaged in the Black History Month, implementing various activities to raise awareness and celebrate Black heritage. These cities serve as models for others, demonstrating the importance of community-centered approaches in combating racism and fostering inclusivity at the local level. 

Celebrating the Black History Month in European cities is not just a commemoration; it's a vital step towards building inclusive communities and combating anti-Black racism. By recognizing and honoring Black history, cities can create safer spaces for diverse experiences and promote equality and social justice for all.

Meeting Working Group on anti-Black racism

On 21 February ECCAR's Working Group on anti-Black racism held a meeting with 15 participating cities to discuss the role of the Black History Month for cities and initiate a working definition of anti-Black racism. For further insights into these discussions, the minutes and documents can be accessed here.

About the Black History Month 

The Black History Month's origins date back to 1915, rooted in the efforts to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Black Americans and people of African descent. Today, it continues to serve as a platform for promoting cultural awareness, combating racism, and fostering solidarity all across the world.