October marks the start of Black History Month (BHM), an annual observance to recognise and celebrate Black history and the future. This year and every year, I am honoured to be part of Black History Month and this year more so in the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), with the recently established Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues network.
My name is Ada Okoli, and I am proud to be British, Black and Beautiful. I have been with the NHSBSA for the past 15 months, of my 18 years working in the NHS. I currently work as Programme Manager supporting the Portfolio Delivery team on change initiatives within Workforce Services.
British-born female of African descent; I was privileged to have spent part of my early years living in, and directly embracing the beauty, culture, style and challenges of Africa. Black History Month for me is about recognising past experiences, emphasising the need for racism to stop, and more importantly celebrating the beauty in black. I would like to believe that each year’s BHM celebration is a step closer to the time when there will be no need to project black history for just 31 days of the year, rather, the acceptance to embrace black and the world in its entirety as one and all important, 365 days a year.
The BAME network first met and was established in July 2020 and comprises of colleagues across the organisation with the BAME heritage. The network comes together to provide a forum for colleagues to share their experiences, support each other and network, whilst also supporting the organisation’s strategic Diversity and Inclusion ambition. The network aims to meet at least twice a year, with frequent meetings taking place in the initial months to establish the necessary building blocks and frameworks, and more so in this month of October to ensure a good shout for BHM. Due to the current situation, all meetings are held virtually through Microsoft Teams.
Black History Month is an annual acknowledgment, observance, recognition and celebration of the achievements and contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent to the world. Since 1976, the USA has designated the month of February to BHM. In the 1980’s, Black History Month was first observed in London to tackle racism and to educate communities about British history that was not taught in mainstream education. Since then, it has continued to be observed across the UK every October. With recent global events, including the Black Lives Matters movement, all highlighting the ever increasing need to tackle racism and prejudice, celebrations like Black History Month are even more increasingly important.
This year at the NHSBSA, we recognise Black History Month and celebrate the theme which is ‘Beauty in Black’. This is an exciting first BHM for the BAME network and we look forward to sharing and embracing the month filled with history, beauty, nature, art, facts and more!