CARIBBEAT: Celebrate the UK’s Black History Month — and the contributions of Caribbean immigrants

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Black History Month in the United Kingdom — laced with contributions from Caribbean immigrants and their descendants — is celebrated October, and the 2021 happenings are underway.

Presented by the Black History Month Magazine, the publication leads in the celebration, coordinating scores of events and activities in all parts of the U.K — in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We wanted the theme of Black History Month 2021 to focus on celebrating being Black or Brown, and to inspire and share the pride people have in their heritage and culture – in their own way, in their own words,” wrote Black History Month editor Catherine Ross.

From slavery days, through World War I and II, to today’s contributions and achievements to the fields of politics, business and science, Caribbean immigrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other English speaking countries have benefitted their communities, and the U.K. as a whole.

Whether its Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights’ free Black History quiz in Scotland, or the “60 Years On: The legacy of Martin Luther King’s first London sermon” commemoration in London, scores of films, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, tributes and other activities will be held during the month and beyond.

“Great Black Britons,” telling the stories of Joe Clough, London’s first Black bus driver and World War I vet, Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament, and others, are among the special features on the Black History Month Magazine website.

Visit blackhistorymonth.org.uk for information.

Lt. Gov. Benjamin, Carib roots

When New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul selected state Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan) to be her lieutenant governor, he became our man in Albany — for city residents and Caribbean New Yorkers.

“I want to thank Governor Hochul for trusting me with the incredible honor of serving alongside her as Lieutenant Governor,” said Sen Benjamin, the Harlem-born son of Caribbean immigrants from Guyana and Jamaica.

“Gov. Hochul is a collaborator who makes sure everyone has a seat at the table, and, like me, is laser focused on listening to the needs of New Yorkers and empowering local leaders. We have a strong history of collaboration that will help us to hit the ground running immediately as we help guide New York through this challenging moment in history.”

Born in Harlem, Benjamin — who represented Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side’s Senate District 30 — attained an undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Before politics, Benjamin worked investment banking at Morgan Stanley.

“My administration is going to attract the best and the brightest — people who share my values of working hard for the people of this state and who will get the job done — and that includes the newest member Senator Brian Benjamin who has agreed to serve as my Lieutenant Governor.” said Gov. Hochul. “There is so much work to do, and I am grateful to have him by my side as we implement our vision for a safer, healthier and fairer New York.”

Domestic violence essay

The Caribbean Voice newspaper will be posing the question “What would you do to eliminate domestic violence?” as the topic for the Bronx-based paper’s planned “Essay Competition on Domestic Violence,” open to students in the Caribbean, aged 15 to 18.

Coming next year, the essay competition — part of the TCV’s Project Change Agent initiative to create domestic violence change agents across communities in the English-speaking Caribbean nations — is designed “to sensitize students and the young to the domestic violence epidemic and domestic violence prevention.”

“Our hope is to have the essay contest put in place and evaluated by Ministries of Education in all 17 English-speaking Caribbean nations and to have the media publish info to both sensitize the public and provide research materials for the essay writers,” said TCV editor Annan Boodram.

“We hope to tie both of these up early next year — January, February. Then we will engage in an extensive promotion via social and traditional media with a number of such media partnering on the project,” Boodram added.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for the “Caribbean High School Domestic Essay Contest.”

Anyone seeking details, use the (646) 461-0574 Whats App phone number or send email to caribvoice@aol.com

Soca Gold is hot

Fall means cooler temperatures and hot music, with last month’s release of the Soca Gold 2021. The anticipated 17-track VP Records compilation of the best releases of the year features hits from soca stars Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Iwer George, Edwin Yearwood, Fay-Ann Lyons, Patrice, Alison Hinds, South African artist Master KG and others.

And this year’s Soca Gold album includes a mixtape featuring all 17 tracks created by Barbadian disc jockey and radio personality DJ Puffy. Visit vpreggae.com.

Meanwhile, Shane Brown Music/VPAL Music has released a single called “A Mother’s Love,” musical collaboration from Jamaican singers Beres Hammond and Popcaan, dedicated to “unending love for their mothers and how prayers and hard work can lead to success,” said a VP Records spokeswoman.

A music video featuring Beres and Popcaan accompanies the release of the single. See the video at bit.ly/AMothersLove_2021.

Black Spectrum turns 50

The Black Spectrum Theatre Company in Queens — marking 50 years of producing memorable performers and productions this year — continues its golden anniversary with the play “Black Love,” running Wednesday through Oct. 31.

Black Spectrum’s 2021-2022 season lineup continues with the play “Mamalogues” Nov. 10 through 19. The theater celebrated its 50th anniversary with a star-studded gala, starring Spectrum Theatre Company founder and CEO Carl Clay, Tony Award-winning actor Ben Vereen, radio personality Bob Law, Rev. Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the Queens-base Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York.

Black Spectrum Theater is at 177-01 Baisley Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens. For information on the theater and upcoming shows through July 2022, visit blackspectrum.com or call (718) 723-1800.

Fikisha’s anniversary

Saturday was the anniversary of the late author, filmmaker, television host and photojournalist Fikisha Cumbo’s birth, whose accomplishments survive her death last year.

Cumbo — who died Aug. 16, 2020 at the age of 80 — is remembered for her 2003 book Get Up! Stand Up! Diary of a Reggaeophile,” featuring behind-the-scenes photos and text of personal lives of reggae pioneers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The now-rare publication, sold out in its first-edition printing.

But her CACE International TV channel on YouTube still holds more than 200 video interviews and performances — with reggae, jazz, blues, African, gospel, R&B, human rights, rock, dance, and cultural celebrities.

Capturing the “music, art and culture of the international community,” the treasure trove of content on Cumbo’s CACE International TV channel dates back to 2010. Visit bit.ly/CACEINTERNATIONAL.

Caribbeat now appears every other week. To submit items for Caribbeat, send email to caribbeatnewyork@gmail.com.

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