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Knowsley Council staff mark Black History Month

by Alison Cornmell

October has been Black History Month – an important opportunity to nationally recognise and celebrate the many contributions made by Black people in Britain over many generations.

During October Knowsley Council workers groups have been selecting inspirational Black figures and sharing details of them across the workforce in order that their stories, histories and achievements are recognised more widely.

The idea came from the Black Workers Group who wanted to collaborate with their colleagues in other groups to take part in Black History Month. Other workers groups include the Women’s, LGBT+, Disability, and Multi Faith staff groups who selected a wide range of people including historical figures, Liverpool figures and those many of us will recognise from our TV screens.

Cllr Graham Morgan said: “I am delighted that my colleagues across the council have been taking part in Black History Month in this way. Black History is British History, but we know that for many Black people their experiences of life, their challenges and their achievements can sometimes go untold. It’s been fantastic to learn more about these important people who have made a significant difference to both our own communities as well as wider society – so I say a huge thank you to all those who contributed and shared their inspirational figures.”

Shining a spotlight

The Women’s Workers Group celebrated Lilian Bader (1917-2015), a woman of mixed heritage who overcame the loss of her parents and racism to become leading Aircraftwoman in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War.

The Disability Workers group selected Ade Adepitan (b. 1973), a nationally recognised sportsman and TV presenter. Losing the ability to walk due to polio aged just 15 months he went onto win a gold medal in the Paralympic World Cup as a member of the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team in Manchester, having previously won a bronze medal the year before at the Summer Paralympics in Athens.

The LGBT+ Workers Group picked Sandi Hughes (b. 1943), the Liverpool based DJ, photographer, independent film maker and visual artist. Sandi left an abusive relationship and moved to Liverpool in 1963, she faced severe discrimination due to her sexuality but has become an influential figure on the city’s LGBT+ scene and is a key contributor to REWIND FAST FORWARD, a unique archive of Liverpool’s music, club and fashion sub-cultures and the intersections with local LGBT and BAME history.

Finally, the Multi Faith and Belief Workers Group chose Gee Walker, an inspirational figure recognised for her faith and community leadership. As someone with direct links to Knowsley, given the tragic murder of her son in a racist attack in Huyton, the group celebrated Gee and how, in the face of immense grief & loss, Gee chose the path of forgiveness, compassion and hope. With her family, Gee chose to establish a foundation to help to make things better so that Anthony’s death would not be in vain.

Also as part of Black History Month Knowsley Council is inviting the community to come forward with their own stories of their experiences and achievements. Although launched in October for Black History Month, the invitation extends beyond the month and is an ongoing call out. You can read more about the invitation for stories here.