People gathered today at Bolton Library to kickstart the celebrations for Black History Month.

Members of the Bolton Black History Group kicked off the annual month early today (Saturday September 30) from 1pm-4pm, where they came together at Bolton Central Library in Crompton Place.

The theme for the event was 'Black is Beautiful' which looked at the wider meaning of the term, made prominent in the USA in the late 1960s, later spreading to South Africa, and the writings of Steve Biko.

The event started with an African drum workshop followed by exhibits of ‘natural’ Afro and other Black hairstyles, and a demonstration of hair braiding by Bolton’s Majesty’s Unisex Salon.

Speaking about the importance of Black History Month, Founder of the group Marlene Walker said: “I think people are getting a greater understanding of each other’s culture and we as a group want to share that with the community.

“It creates more harmony and less conflict if there is ever conflict.

“We all think we are different, but we are not, we are all the same. We need to pass that on a bit more.

“I think there needs to be more education in schools, I wrote to all schools in Bolton to invite them to enter our poster competition and I only had one reply and its not part of the curriculum, but it needs to be.

“There does need to be an overall recognition of Black history incorporated in the schools.

“I want people to feel proud.”

Marlene said more needs to be done for the equality of Black people.

She said: “Much more needs to be done, there is hidden racism, people might think it is hunky dory now but it’s not, we still have a way to go.

“Black History Month events help, and it gives children a bit of an understanding of the Black culture.

The Bolton News: Samuel MaitlandSamuel Maitland (Image: NQ)“It is only through education and understanding that we can make things better.”

Samuel Maitland, also known as Pappa Sam Alfia, taught children at today’s event how to play the African drums.

Speaking about why he wanted to take part at the event, Samuel said: “I decided to come down here today to take part in the Black History Month event, there are lots of young people who need this kind of thing from a young age, to give them an incentive in life.

“It is really important Black History month happens every year to remind people of who they are and how they came and how they are a good part of society.

“I am proud of Black History Month because it is a reminder.”

As well as children being taught how to play the drums, children also had the chance to get creative and make posters.

Moving into the second part of the event, Marlene made a speech with the theme of ‘Black is Beautiful’ telling attendees the history behind Black hair.

Majesty’s Unisex Salon then did a demonstration on how to plait Afro hair.

Samuel, owner of Majesty’s spoke on behalf of Jocelyn Kollie, also an owner of the salon, about why they wanted to take part in the event.

He said: “I think Bolton is a unique place, and we have a business in Bolton Town Centre, and we have decided to support the whole of Black History Month.

The Bolton News: Demonstration of hair braidingDemonstration of hair braiding (Image: NQ)“It is important obviously as well as a Black man myself, and I have a Black daughter, I think it is important we come together and show our support.

“We are very grateful to have been invited and its fantastic.

“It is very important that it is celebrated, we have done quite a lot and it is about time things are being recognised and we are being put out there and we can see the positives with the new and older generations.”

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