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BHM and the importance of embracing roots

We are a shining light in the community, we should honour the generations that have struggled for us and celebrate where we are today. It is a contribution that is deeply important.

October marks Black History Month. This year will highlight pioneering black women who have blazed a trail. Resident Maria has recently featured in an upcoming documentary for Birmingham Mind discussing BHM and mental health. Maria shares what the month means to her, how it has evolved, her own childhood, and how the younger generation can continue to embrace their roots.

I grew up in Trinidad and Tobago where I had the opportunity to participate in the prime minister’s local community group amongst other schools. Each area would compete for the captain’s goal and prizes to fulfil a team effort. Such events are indelible memories of the times within my community where we honoured black history. That constant regrouping as a community enabled us to become closer.  

The observance of Black History Month has evolved a lot over the years for the best. I have witnessed the month in my home country and in the UK.  When I was younger and many years ago in the UK, it was not highlighted as it is now. The fact that it is within school curriculums, around social media platforms and is honoured with social events is a success.

I have witnessed many influential black figures make a mark during my lifetime and together they have made a huge difference to black history. Nelson Mandela specifically remains with me, as he was a very heartfelt and passionate person, striving for harmony of black lives. He worked extremely hard to bring the movement forward and was validated around the world for his efforts and success.

Another influential figure is Martin Luther King. He was very thoughtful for the community and helped many people religiously as an eminent leader to help our community move forward. His influence resonates with me as I value religion and serving the community.


I believe it is important to celebrate Black History Month as it allows reflection and gratitude as you look back at the different generations and the journey the black community have historically been a part of. Despite the different cultures, we can connect to honour this month and who we are. I also believe it is an important opportunity to learn about moral standing of people in different societal facets that help our society and community come together.

In my life I have faced and witnessed many challenges related to racial equality and civil rights both on a societal level and within the workplace. I worked as a nurse and at times my colour was perceived as a disadvantage, many times others would receive promotions solely based on their colour despite us having similar qualifications.

My parents were a great example, they showed me how you can build yourself in society, this encouraged me through all my life experiences specifically when facing challenges. My father was very involved in politics taking the role of the ‘Justice of the Peace’, this helped me see others that were disadvantaged and the help that we can all offer. I have carried this with me through my life.

Resident Maria in a white shirt

There is a lot of content out there on Black History Month which will allow people to gain a deeper understanding. I particularly suggest and encourage people to read about real life experiences and books of other cultures to understand one another better. My sister worked with the United Nations, and she always bought books back for me on her travels. I also travelled with her to Sudan and while I was there, I read a lot about the culture and their history which highlighted their journey. The people were very gracious, and it was very interesting to see people of all walks of life remain gracious despite the war they were facing.  It helped me to understand the subject a lot better myself.

For the younger generation I’d advise them to actively learn and know their roots, educating themselves and standing up for their rights. This will all come from embracing your roots.

We are a shining light in the community, we should honour the generations that have struggled for us and celebrate where we are today. It is a contribution that is deeply important.