Adrianne George, our Founder, and Chair, talking ever so briefly to Metro Sverige about Black History Month. She is very grateful her colleagues Sigma Dolins and Alexander Lange – Vice Chair and Chair, respectively of Democrats Abroad Sweden sent them her way.
Here is the full interview from which the article above was written:
How come the US celebrates black history month?
Good question! Black History Month in the US is a celebration of the achievements of African Americans and their importance to American History. It started as a week in 1926 as the brainchild of Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and Rev Jesse E. Moorland. They founded a national organization to study and document “negro” life and history. They choose the 2nd week of February because, that year, it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Makes sense seeing how President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, the predecessors of African Americans, and Frederick Douglass was a ferocious, tireless, and globally acclaimed abolitionist and himself a former slave.
Why is it so important?
Black History Month is important because black history – African American history – is the history of the United States of America. You can’t talk, think about, study or appreciate the history of the USA without an honest look at how it was founded, how it participated in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade which leads to extreme riches and extreme horror, or gave birth to the first American Patriot to fall at the Boston Massacre,Crispus Attucks, which lead to the American Revolution. You have to remember the brutality of rape and lynching that lead to The Blues and Gospel music.
You have to study America’s repressive segregationist laws to see how they lead to the Civil Rights movement and a woman like Rosa Parks and a leader like Malcolm X, Jazz, Bebop, Soul, Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues. You have to study how making amendments to the US Constitution, for example, to abolish slavery, and to end segregation in schools were civil right victories for all Americans. And even though Black History Month started as a week in 1926 the world is witnessing the Black Lives Matter movement in 2017-2018 which in itself explains why Black History Month is important.
How do they celebrate it?
Well, there is the political way:
In 1975, President Ford issued a Message on the Observance of Black History Week urging all Americans to “recognize the important contribution made to our nation’s life and culture by black citizens.” As soon as the organization organizing the week extended the celebration to a month the following year, President Ford endorsed that too. Then in 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-244 which designated February 1986 as “National Black (Afro-American) History Month.” President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5443 which proclaimed that “the foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.” In January 1996, President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 6863 for “National African American History Month.” The proclamation emphasized the theme for that year, the achievements of black women from Sojourner Truth to Mary McLeod Bethune and Toni Morrison. In February 1996 the Senate passed Senate Resolution 229 commemorating Black History Month and the contributions of African American U.S. Senators. Since 1996, Presidents have issued annual proclamations for National African American History Month. On February 1, 2011, President Obama issued a Proclamation reflecting on the theme of “African Americans and the Civil War”. In 2017 President Trump proclaimed African American History Month calls upon us to reflect on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. This year the President said, ” This year’s theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” calls our attention to the heroic contributions of African Americans during our Nation’s military conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to present-day operations”.
And the community way:
This varies by city and State but in my experience includes museum and art exhibitions, concerts and dance performances, school projects across disciplines from social studies to history and art, on all levels from elementary to University. There are business expos and Buy Black fairs and a celebration of food and everything that makes African Americans unique from hairstyles to wardrobe choices. It’s a time to look in the mirror and like what you see, which isn’t always easy for African Americans to do when you’re worried that you could become a poster child for Black Lives Matter if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Are there any controversies around the celebration? If so, what are they?
I can’t think of any but then again there was pushback from some constituencies in the US about creating a national holiday to remember the life and death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m waiting for the release of the new $20 bill with the face of a slave, Underground Railroad conductor, Union Army spy, Abolitionist and defacto feminist, Harriet Tubman. The $20 bill would retire Andrew Jackson. Bold, no doubt, and I can proudly say an Obama Administration initiative. Let’s not forget that America is a country whose Presidents owned slaves. Andrew Jackson was one of those. He was also no friend of 1st Nationals in the Southeast of the US. Having Harriet Tubman on a paper bill in US currency would be a first for an African American and the first for a woman in 100 years.
Any specific reason Sweden doesn’t celebrate it?
In Europe, Black History Month is celebrated in the UK. And for good reason. The British colonized many African and Caribbean countries and even though slavery wasn’t legal in the UK her business community profited greatly from the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Certainly, other countries in Europe could recognize a month to celebrate the contribution of blacks in their societies based on their colonial pasts. In 2011 there was a demonstration by Afro-Swedes in Stockholm for Sweden to recognize its role in the slave trade too (https://afroeurope.blogspot.se/2011/05/black-people-in-sweden-demonstrated-for.html). Afrophobic hate crime rose in Sweden between 2008 and 2012 as reported in The Local, in parallel or because of a vibrant and important black community in Sweden. This community has produced high achieving cabinet ministers, artists, athletes, etc.
But then again I have been to Black History Month celebrations in Stockholm in the past. One was arranged by the US Embassy’s Cultural Department and featured my beloved Alma matter Howard University’s Gospel Choir. Another event organized by a US Fulbright student from Boston University doing research in Sweden. She arranged an evening with former child prodigy James Bradley, Jr who is a professional drummer in Stockholm.
Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures
31 Aug – 2 Sept 2018
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Three-day International Conference
At a time when new dynamics are emerging around the issues of justice (transitional, reparative, etc.), mourning and commemoration in Africa and its diaspora, the conference “Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures” seeks to consider the current historical conjuncture and the extent to which it reveals new questions about memory in the historical, temporal and social contexts of slavery and imperialism. For example, how do the growing calls for reparations and the urge to restructure or challenge the politics of commemoration within imperialist societies point to the emergence of new “conceptual-ideological problem-spaces” (Scott, Conscripts of Modernity) in how African-Atlantic postcolonial communities engage with historical memory? How will an analysis of these dynamics, of the gaps they point to, and of the urgencies they highlight, foster new understandings of the stakes that the particular memories of slavery and imperialism bear within the spaces marked by this history, including the imperialist societies themselves?
In tackling these questions, we wish to consider the valences of performance in the contemporary moment and the extent to which they are cross-fertilising and mediating the most urgent issues in Africa-Atlantic memory. We wish to reflect on how spaces and modes of performance – including, but not limited to, theatre, dance, literary texts, music, visual art and sports – are being used to energise both the particular and the entangled concerns of aesthetics, politics and epistemology within the memories linked to African-Atlantic colonialism and slavery. Are contemporary performances of memory, particularly those that point to African and Afro-diasporic alternatives to Euro-Western modes and models, reflecting historico-political and cognitive shifts in how the relationship between African-Atlantic pasts, presents and futures is conceived?
The three-day international conference “Memory and Performance in African-Atlantic Futures” seeks to approach these issues from a vigorously cross-/inter-disciplinary perspective. We invite scholars, artists, curators and other professionals within fields as varied as literature, theatre and the performing arts, visual art, history, law, anthropology, cultural studies, to engage in a conversation around the dynamics of memory within the historical framework of African-Atlantic slavery and colonialism and the political, aesthetic and epistemological specificities that they engage in the current moment. We hope to underscore how these dynamics, too often overlooked in the critical and theoretical sites of memory studies, are currently shaping, reshaping and (re)mediating the global flows of memory.
We propose two main axes of investigation:
Shapes and forms of memory
How do we think the forms and effects of the enfleshed, material memories of slavery, colonialism and their afterlives and the ways in which these are enlisted in the spaces of performance, be they physical (theatre, dance, ritual, oral performance, etc.) or textual (the different performative manifestations of the written word)?
This question necessarily involves a consideration of how African diaspora time-senses fashion modes of performance of memory and how oral and ritual performance forms impact, shape, record and encode memory in the context of colonial violence. Can African and diasporic forms of embodied memory become tools that combat imperialism? How can the performance of post-slavery/ post-Empire memory shed new light on Western theories of memory that emerge from Holocaust studies or on Western theories of haunting, trauma and mourning?
Epistemologies of memory
What challenges do African diasporic modes of memory bring to Euro-Western epistemologies of justice, History, and the human? How does postcolonial memory call into question the social deployment of memory within the nation and across nations? At a time when the movement for reparations for slavery in the African diaspora is achieving unprecedented momentum, we invite contributions that question settled understandings of the triad of time, history and justice and those that address postcolonial engagements with memory through “corrective” performance practices of justice, “truth-telling” and witnessing. Additionally, in considering institutional marginalization, suppression, and exclusion of postcolonial memories, we seek contributions about practices that challenge the order of remembrance in official commemorations, museums, schools, archives and discourses.
Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
institutions of memory
memory and the law
memory and reparations
memory and colonial enlightenment
memory and ‘the human’
new ‘problem-spaces’ of memory
memory and futures
Black Speculative Arts Movement and futures
ritual performance and futures
decolonising the museum
decolonising the curriculum
citation as a politics of memory
Each presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes in order to save time for questions and to ensure a smooth program.
Abstracts in English of no more than 300 words should be sent to by Friday, 2 March 2018. Please send abstracts in PDF or Word format, accompanied by the title of the paper and a short biography.
We also welcome proposals for complete panels, which should consist of 3 presenters. Panel proposals should not exceed 500 words and should be accompanied by short biographies of each of the presenters.
The organising committee will communicate acceptance decisions no later than 9 March 2018.
Dr. Jason Allen-Paisant (University of Leeds)
Prof. Maxim Silverman (University of Leeds)
Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Dr. Louise Bernard (Museum of the Obama Presidential Center)
Prof. Lubaina Himid (University of Central Lancashire)
Prof. Tavia Nyong’o (Yale University)
Prof. Adam Sitze (Amherst College)
Dr. Chokri Ben Chikha (Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Ghent)
The American will become the first person who identifies as biracial to join the upper echelons of the U.K.’s royal family when she marries Harry in May.
But some black women said coverage of the Los Angeles native’s roots by some media outlets is indicative of the underlying racism that they experience daily.
“I feel like racism in the U.K. is pretty insidious,”
said Paula Akpan, a co-founder of Black Girl Festival which celebrates black British women.
Read the full story. Quiet and overt racism against black women in Europe is a problem which is why our work is so important. Help us build the most comprehensive directory of organizations in the UK and across Europe that support black women. Submit the names to firstname.lastname@example.org today.
The Black Women in Europe™ Social Media Group held its 2017 Annual General Meeting yesterday. Board members in Copenhagen, Denmark, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Sweden and New York, USA met via Skype and telephone.
Of the 8 members of the Board, one was in Stockholm protesting the slavery of African immigrants in Libya and another was being interviewed by German state television and were unable to attend.
Of the 10 agenda items discussed this change to our Statutes is of direct interest to society:
7) RULES FOR MEMBERSHIP AND EXCLUSION
All persons who completely accept and support the statutes of our association are welcome to become members of the Black Women in Europe™ Social Media Group.
Scholarships can only be awarded to Members who are black women living in Europe. For these purposes, a black woman is defined as having direct African descent.
Membership fees and donations will be used to cover the costs of executing and maintaining the three pillars of the organization.
Voting results: 8 Aye Board members unable to attend the full meeting were offered a Proxy to submit their vote. 3 votes were submitted by Proxy.
I am very pleased to have received this news! In my application I stated that I want to learn how to ensure that I can fulfill one mission of our organization:
To provide alternative platforms to mainstream media to showcase and promote positive images and news stories about black women in Europe. The platforms will include a multi-award winning blog and social media.
We are excited to offer you a Google Developer Challenge Scholarship to the Front-End Web Developer track. We received applications from many talented and motivated candidates, and yours truly stood out.
Class begins November 6, 2017. As a scholarship student, you will be automatically enrolled into the program. We’ll be sending you an email on the first day of class, November 6th, 2017, with instructions to get started.
Chaitra, on behalf of the Udacity and Google Scholarship Team.
A Trinidadian-American writer and activist explores motherhood, migration, identity, nationhood and how it relates to land, imprisonment, and genocide for Black and Indigenous peoples.
Having moved to Copenhagen, Denmark from Brooklyn over 18 years ago, Brown attempts to contextualise her and her son’s existence in a post-colonial and supposedly post-racial world where the very machine of so-called progress has been premised upon the demise of her lineage. Through these letters, Brown writes the past into the present – penned from the country that has been declared “The Happiest Place in the World” – creating a vision that is a necessary alternative to the dystopian one currently being bought and sold.
Welcome to an evening inspired by Wangari Maathai, environmental activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement, also the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. If the trees – Nandi Flames could speak, then they would sing about Wangari Maathai and tell you this evening about the global climate and the situation in Africa. A performance of dance, music, and ghosts will be to and fro about the climate.
Extreme weather and natural disasters around the world make us unable to shut up for climate change. But much can be prevented and prevented.
Come and listen to Mats Nittve Vi-forest ambassador who tells you about their amazing work in East Africa. On stage, dancers meet and have a dance show! The Troubadour Tauna Niingungo plays on several instruments, including a rainstorm. Jessica Karlén about doing stand-up in South Africa and much more.
Mats Nittve Vi-forest ambassador
Tauna Niingungo Trubadur
Jessica Karlén artist, writer, and comedian
Charlotte Rieback & Diasmany Dance (Afro-Cuban)
Matilda Peltonen solo no
Kulturama dance show
The program is supported by the City of Stockholm. Maisha Cultural Association is part of Kulturens Bildningsförbund.
Note: One day in 2006 I received a phone call from Andy Collins. He had me at, “Hello” with his smooth voice draped in an English accent. He wanted to talk about his idea of a website about black culture in Sweden. He also offered to update my Black Women in Europe™ logo. He’s been my idol ever since.–Adrianne George
Andy Collins is freelance graphic designer and entrepreneur from London, England and lives in Uppsala, Sweden.
After arriving in 2005, Andy started the Afro-Swedish website urbanlife.se, a unique platform at the time focused on highlighting and supporting afro-Swedish culture.
His design projects reflected his desire to work with Black culture and the community with clients such as CinemAfrica, African History Week and Black Women in Europe™.
A passionate music lover and DJ in 2014 Andy started Urbanlife Radio sent directly from Uppsala’s Castle. He has also DJ’ed at several venues around Uppsala.
Since then he has been involved in several projects and currently devotes his time to supporting soul music from across Scandinavia on scandinaviansoul.com.
The website held the first ever Scandinavian Soul festival in 2013 and holds an annual award show.
We love nothing more than discovering new books, and even better, having a good chat about them afterwards with fellow bookworms. And so whether you’re devoted to Richard and Judy’s recommendations, searching for some Fresh Talent to read before all your friends, or simply looking for something new to get lost in on a Sunday afternoon, take a look at the books that we can’t stop talking about this month and let us know what you think!
Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Travel + Leisure, Slate, Travel Channel, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, National Geographic Channel, several in-flight magazines, amongst others. She was in South Africa on a photography assignment for National Geographic Channel and was featured in a vignette called “Through The Lens” which airs on Nat Geo channel across the globe.
She also owns and runs Geotraveler Media – a multimedia and travel consulting firm providing a spectrum of travel media-related services from writing and photography to web design and social media. She is editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm – an editorial site which encourages travelers to explore Stockholm deeper and slowly.
She is also a founding member of the Nordic Travel Bloggers (NordicTB) collective which brings together the top professional travel influencers and digital storytellers in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.