October is Black History Month; the annual celebration and acknowledgement of the invaluable contributions of Black people and culture. Although, of course, Black history should be recognised and championed all year round, October gives us the opportunity to put a spotlight on the incredible impact that Black people have had, not just on our capital city, but our entire country.
Transport for London will be marking Black History Month with a range of initiatives that will honour the Black people who have shaped the transport network. This year is particularly apropos as 2023 marks the 75th Windrush anniversary.
A leaflet of poems, written by Black poets, will be available at most London Underground stations throughout the month. Work by Benjamin Zephaniah, Lemn Sissay and Grace Nichols will be featured within the leaflet. The poems, estimated to have reached millions of people using the transport network, will give valuable insight into the complexities of Black history.
Brixton station is host to a photography series celebrating Black staff members across the TfL organisation. Featuring women working in areas including Planning, Operations and Communications, the work exhibited sees each woman share their achievements and aspirations both inside and outside the workplace. The series is titled ‘Saluting Our Sisters’. New artwork celebrating the long lineage of Black culture will also launch at Brixton station in early November.
London Overground will be putting on four DJ sets over the course of the month, with Arriva Rail London’s very own service delivery manager, Bentley Brooks, taking to the decks. Bentley B will be DJing at Shoreditch High Street, Shepherd’s Bush, White Hart Lane and Dalston Junction stations. ARL staff will be handing out books by Black authors and Black History Month-themed tote bags and key rings to customers on the network.
A London bus has been vibrantly wrapped in a striking design honouring the Windrush generation. This bus is now in daily service on route 40, between Clerkenwell Green and Dulwich. Designed by artist Baraka Carberry, the wrap celebrates the culture, community and colours of Notting Hill carnival and the 75-year history of Windrush. The wrap will remain in place throughout Black History Month and into the New Year, with support from Go Ahead London.
Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, said: “This Black History Month, I’m delighted that TfL is honouring the Black staff members who played – and continue to play – an instrumental role in developing and running London’s transport network. This year’s celebration is especially auspicious as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of Windrush. Many of those who arrived on the ship went on to work for TfL, and their incredible contribution to our lives must always be valued. By celebrating our capital’s diversity, we are building a fairer, more equitable and prosperous city for everyone.”
Patricia Obinna, TfL’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion, said: “The experiences and contribution of our Black colleagues and our colleagues from other ethnic minority backgrounds should be recognised and celebrated all year round. During Black History Month we especially want people to come together to acknowledge the incredible contributions of Black people in London and beyond. This is especially pertinent this year during the 75th Windrush anniversary, so we will be marking this month with a varied programme of events including poetry, art and music on our transport network from inspirational Black artists.”