Time for change: Lewes Town Council partners with Diversity Resource International and Depot for Black History Month event

Lewes Town Council is delighted to be working with Lewes-based social enterprise Diversity Resource International (DRI) and Depot Cinema Lewes to put together a programme of Black History Month events, culminating with a spectacular evening at Lewes Town Hall.

The council plays a key role in historical and cultural preservation in Lewes and celebrating events like Black History Month helps to make this more inclusive. Although BAME history is relevant all year round, the council respects the original aims of Black History Month: “challenging racism and educating society about the hidden Black history that was not taught in schools”.

The council is committed to celebrating Black History Month during October, contributing to its vision of support for equality, diversity and inclusion of under-represented groups alongside the disadvantaged and the vulnerable. Its aims in recognising Black History Month specifically are to celebrate the central role Black and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) have played in transforming the social, political and economic spheres in the United Kingdom.

Lewes is a town which fiercely celebrates and protects its history, and using the month of October to help to shine a light on less commonly acknowledged stories only adds to the richness of its cultural landscape. This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Time for Change’ and with this event the council hopes to raise awareness of not just social change, but in the approach to Black History Month itself.

The council agreed to have a yearly nonpolitical celebration that showcases the rich and varied BAME histories, while supporting the challenge to the accepted narrative that limits the history of BAME people to slaves and colonial subjects.

By working with both DRI, who work to raise awareness of the impact of structural discrimination and to bring about greater social justice, as well as Depot Cinema, a cultural institution in Lewes, the council wants to embrace Black History Month as part of an ongoing conversation about wider BAME history and culture, opening up the eyes of people in Lewes to the diversity that surrounds them.

DRI founder and director Mebrak Ghebreweldi said “[Black History Month] is a month where we renew our promise to continue the struggle for race equality. However, in this time the movement for race equality is no longer the responsibility of Black people only. With the younger generation leading the way, organisations, communities, and millions of individuals from all races are saying ‘No More’ so Black people are not alone in the journey for race equality.

“By sharing our stories, we will come closer and stronger but by not doing this we will be apart, divided, and disempowered. Come and share, listen to the human stories, and share and define yourself. Declare what you stand for! We are all citizens of one planet regardless of the colour of our skin.”

This year, following the success of 2021’s Black History Month event, the Mayor of Lewes is hosting an event called Time for Change: Action Not Words on October 30 2022. The event is a free evening of reflection, discussion, and celebration as we approach the end of Black History Month, supporting the theme for Black History Month Time for Change: Action not Words.

The event will welcome special guest poet and activist Rick Dove. In addition, there will be a panel discussion hosted by Patrick Nyikavaranda, a director at Diversity Resource International. The panel includes Brighton-based poet/spoken word artists Priss Nash and Annie Whilby, Lewes-based Vandu Languages’ Deputy Director Aaron Clarke and retired professional footballer Victor Anichebe. Food will be available at the interval and event will culminate with a musical drumming performance. Black-owned business Take Good Care are offering sponsorship, and there will also be a stall from Sussex Police giving advice on keeping safe and reporting hate crime to engage with the community.

Tickets for the event are free, but must be booked in advance through Eventbrite