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Exclusive! Q&A with Wilfred for Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month – observed throughout October – we sat down for a special interview with The Black Farmer founder Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE to discover why it’s important and what it means to him.

What is Black History Month?

October is Black History Month. It was created to promote and celebrate the contributions of those with African and Caribbean heritage to British society and to foster an understanding of black history in general.

Why is it important?

It’s so important because it helps give context for the present. Black History Month is an opportunity to understand black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight black achievement. It helps us all to see that black history is also British history.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

I’m passionate about Black History Month. I firmly believe that the more we know about other communities the more accepting we will become – of ourselves and others – in that community. For far too long, black history has been ignored and not taught as part of our curriculum. It’s through events like these that more people will understand how inextricably linked black people are to British history. It’s vital that we understand our past and learn about the significant people and events that helped shaped our society.

What is Black History Month?

October is Black History Month. It was created to promote and celebrate the contributions of those with African and Caribbean heritage to British society and to foster an understanding of black history in general.

Why is it important?

It’s so important because it helps give context for the present. Black History Month is an opportunity to understand black histories, going beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight black achievement. It helps us all to see that black history is also British history.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

I’m passionate about Black History Month. I firmly believe that the more we know about other communities the more accepting we will become – of ourselves and others – in that community. For far too long, black history has been ignored and not taught as part of our curriculum. It’s through events like these that more people will understand how inextricably linked black people are to British history. It’s vital that we understand our past and learn about the significant people and events that helped shaped our society.

Why do you think it’s important to keep banging the drum?

Lack of diversity is a real issue. It’s only through raising awareness that we’ll eventually get to a place of real inclusivity and this annual event is a great reminder. You only have to look at events such as Gay Pride to see the positive impact they can have in raising awareness and understanding. They engender acceptance and allow the wider community to embrace others regardless of colour, race, religion, sexuality and gender, etc.

 Why do you think it’s important for young people to have black role models?

We all need role models whatever our ethnicity. People look for others from similar backgrounds to aspire to. I’ve found that my success in life has inspired many people from similar backgrounds to my own. Role models are beacons for people to strive towards in achieving their own goals and dreams. For young black people to see successful black people in senior roles in every sector of society is vital.  They need to believe that there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Why do you think it’s important to keep banging the drum?

Lack of diversity is a real issue. It’s only through raising awareness that we’ll eventually get to a place of real inclusivity and this annual event is a great reminder. You only have to look at events such as Gay Pride to see the positive impact they can have in raising awareness and understanding. They engender acceptance and allow the wider community to embrace others regardless of colour, race, religion, sexuality and gender, etc.

 Why do you think it’s important for young people to have black role models?

We all need role models whatever our ethnicity. People look for others from similar backgrounds to aspire to. I’ve found that my success in life has inspired many people from similar backgrounds to my own. Role models are beacons for people to strive towards in achieving their own goals and dreams. For young black people to see successful black people in senior roles in every sector of society is vital.  They need to believe that there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Who were your role models when growing up?

Growing up, my role models were Mohammed Ali, Dr. Martin Luther King and Sidney Poitier. All-American, yes, but there weren’t any black British models when I was growing up.

Why is it important for the black community to have allies?

It’s important that we understand the importance of diversity. Nature tells us that diversity is essential for our wellbeing, survival and balance. As human beings, sometimes we forget to follow the rules of nature and we need reminders that in order to survive, we must embrace diversity in all things.

What can people do to show their support for the black community?

Celebrate our differences, but at the same time, recognise that we are all part of the whole.

What progress have we made and what still needs to be done?

There’s still a long way to go for us to become a more balanced and diverse society. The good news is that we are on course thanks to events like Black History Month. We must keep celebrating these occasions and bringing black history into the mainstream and I am very hopeful that in my lifetime the UK will be celebrated as one of the most diverse countries on the planet.