Sibusiso Tshabalala and Gary Thompson are passionate about making sure Black people in Bristol are recognised and elevated all year round.
While October 1 marks the start of Black History Month – a time when Black people are celebrated globally – their aim is to ensure Black voices are heard throughout the year.
And they’re keen to stress that Black History Month is not just about the historic contribution of Black people to society – but about their present and future stories too.
Mr Tshabalala and Mr Thompson are part of a small and dedicated team who organise a series of events and publications for Black History Month in Bristol.
They believe that in order for communities to feel represented, publications and media organisations need to hire more people of colour who can tell those stories authentically and often from experience.
Mr Thompson said: “It’s obvious that we need to have these voices at the forefront, just like other voices.
“But, the issue is often our stories are not portrayed right. So, with BHM magazine what we’re doing is telling the stories of Black people not just in central Bristol, but beyond.
“Our stories need to be told and not just for one month. We can tell our stories, but I wonder who is listening?”
Mr Tshabalala believes there is a need for us not to focus exclusively on the past when celebrating Black people.
He said: “The brand name – Black History Month – gets people very stuck. It’s not just about the month.
“We’re looking at the past, present and future.
“If it only pops up for one month, it’s only showing representation for this month.
“We need to continue it throughout the year – from the young to the elderly.
“We need to make relevant content for all people to be able to engage.”
“People need to get to know about the challenges our community faces, but also what people’s aspirations are in this community,” Mr Tshabalala added.
For the past few years, Black History Month in Bristol has been a collection of events staged by organisations and venues.
It’s gradually growing and this year it will feature a larger, wider and more varied collection of events right across the city.
Black History Month magazine will be available online from October 1.
To mark Black History Month, Bristol Live is shining the spotlight on Black-led businesses across the city. We aim to cover everything from the importance of representation, the impact on their communities and the effects of the pandemic on their businesses. If you know of a Black owned business that should be featured, let us know. While maintaining a focus throughout October, we strive to represent Black people on our platforms all year round.