Black History Month, which falls in October, gives us a chance to celebrate the contributions of our black neighbours, friends, family and colleagues to our lives and the world around us. The theme of this year’s Black History Month is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, and October is also kinship care month. Kinship carers are those family and friends who step in to care for children when their own parents can’t.
This overlap feels pertinent to me, as the black women in our communities pour so much love and care into young people across the borough, but their contributions are so often underappreciated.
Alongside kinship carers, many black women in our borough truly appreciate the fact that it takes a town to raise a child. There is much that we can learn from both of these groups of people about neighbourliness, social connection and mutual support.
Because we want to recognise the contribution of overlooked communities to the life of our borough, we are launching a call for nominations for Civic Honours.
We want to celebrate those people who have made contributions to our borough, or Ealing residents who have achieved great things. That could be an athlete, sportsperson, or musician who’s from Ealing and who’s been very successful.
But nominees don’t have to have made grand contributions, they could also simply have worked hard locally to make a positive difference to the lives of their community. Nominees can be alive, or those who have passed away.
Our new Civic Honours Committee will review submissions and recommend honours where appropriate. That might be Freedom of the Borough, which the council awarded in 2022 to Bukayo Saka, the naming of a road or building after someone, or making them an Alder of the borough.
Recognising, celebrating and honouring the successes and contributions of our residents is an important part of the council’s work, as it is an important part of civic life in general.
We are kicking off by naming two new local buildings after black women, Edna Wilkie and Magdalen Carter. Both Edna and Magdalen committed their lives to their local communities, independently setting up extra school classes for children, in particular of Caribbean heritage, supporting hundreds of young people in the borough.
They were remarkable women and we are proud to be able to acknowledge and remember them in this way.
And our call for nominations is now open – we want to hear from you about the everyday heroes of Ealing.
You can nominate those who have worked to make Ealing better, and those who represent the borough through sport, film, art, literature and more.
Changing the way that we award civic honours is part of our way to recognise and celebrate those who are marginalised, ignored or unheard.
Over the course of this month, the Around Ealing website will be introducing you to 5 local black women. You may or may not have heard of them, but all are amazing and achieving incredible things. This week you’ll meet Carlene Bender, a local businesswoman and entrepreneur who is the powerhouse behind Ealing’s Business Expo.
Check out the events and activities happening across the borough to celebrate Black History Month.