Black History Month, celebrated in the UK during the month of October, is a time to honour and reflect upon the rich contributions and accomplishments of Black individuals throughout history. It's a moment to educate, commemorate, and celebrate the African and Caribbean heritage that has left a permanent mark on British society. While this celebration is embraced by various communities and institutions, this blog will focus on the unique role that black-owned barbershops have played in the UK and how all salons and barbershops can embrace Black History Month in the UK.
How it started
Black History Month was first celebrated in the United States in 1976, and it was later adopted in the UK in 1987. It was established to recognise and celebrate the achievements, contributions, and history of Black people worldwide. Throughout October, numerous events, exhibitions, and educational programs are organised to acknowledge the struggles and triumphs of Black individuals and communities.
Heritage & Community
Black-owned barbershops in the UK have roots dating back to the 19th century, primarily in bustling port cities like London, Liverpool, and Cardiff. These early barbers often catered to sailors and travellers from Africa and the Caribbean.
Black-owned barbershops became essential gathering places for African, Caribbean, and other immigrants in the UK, providing a sense of home and familiarity.
In the late 1980s, the British TV sitcom "Desmonds" introduced us to the charismatic barber Desmond Ambrose and his Peckham barbershop. Desmond became a household name, shining a spotlight on the unique role of these barber havens.
These establishments have served as more than just places for haircuts; they are important social hubs, centres of political discussion, and pillars of cultural identity.
Black-owned barbershops in the UK have been places where cultural practices and traditions are preserved. Traditional African and Caribbean hairstyles, such as braids, locks, and intricate hair designs, are often created in these shops.
Some black-owned barbershops in the UK are known for hosting cultural celebrations, events, and discussions on important topics, contributing to community building and activism.
Embracing Black History Month
By actively participating in cultural events like Black History Month, all salons and barbershops can benefit from the occasion. Salons and barbershops that actively promote Black History Month through social media, decorations, and events can attract new customers and receive positive attention from the wider community.
Hosting educational events or workshops can position these establishments as places of learning, attracting clients who value cultural enrichment and diversity. Embracing Black History Month aligns these businesses with broader societal values of inclusivity and respect for cultural diversity.
The National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) has released a report, Analysis of the Trends Within the Hair & Beauty Industry by Ethnicity Across the UK – the first of its kind to be undertaken in the industry. The report marks a significant milestone in the NHBF’s commitment to develop a comprehensive evidence base and better.