Hometown Pride and Black History Month

As we release our latest beer alongside the team at Why Didn’t You Tell Me?, we’ve invited Felix Kankwambe from the podcast to write a guest blog on our site.

Here, Felix gives insight into our partnership and Black History Month.

It is said that ‘knowing the past opens doors to the future’, October invokes different feelings, for some it’s a big sigh of relief, the Summer is over the children are back in school, for farmers it is the beginning of the harvest season, in African cultures October is traditionally when chiefs and leaders gather to settle their differences.

For Black people of African and Caribbean decent in the United Kingdom it is an opportunity to celebrate Black History Month. Northern Monk have partnered once again with ‘Why Didn’t You Tell Me?’ podcast to create Hometown Pride a beer for the Autumn.

If you are not familiar with ‘Why Didn’t You Tell Me?’ (WDYTM) it is a fun, open and honest podcast that looks at how three young men who thought the stuff they were taught in school would prepare them to be successful, confident, and stable young adults.

WDYTM recently partnered with Northern Monk on the Patrons Project creating ‘UBUNTU’, a tropical IPA. This collaboration introduced WDYTM to the craft beer industry, an industry which in which African and Caribbean people are typically underrepresented.

Podcasts usually focus on live events and merchandising. Our partnership with Northern Monk gave us a platform to create a product which represents our respective cultures – innovating and widening the scope of spaces podcasts can enter. ‘UBUNTU’ was created to be a beer that is flavoursome, fun and everyone can enjoy no matter your cultural background.

For WDYTM Black History Month is an opportunity to feel, celebrate, mourn, and educate. Our national curriculum usually focuses on the Black history, culture, and experiences of African Americans. However, the history and experiences of Black British people is overlooked or not known at all.

Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in October 1987 after being organised by Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo who had served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council.

Addai-Sebo took inspiration from the USA, whose Black History Month originated at Kent State University, where it was first proposed in 1969 and first celebrated from January 2 – February 28, 1970. Within six years it was being marked in educational institutions across the United States, with President Gerald Ford telling Americans to ‘seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout our history’.

Our partnership with Northern Monk is unique, in that a brewery and podcast are creating products which present a cultural narrative rarely if ever heard in the British Craft Beer Industry. While perhaps not an obvious pairing, Why Didn’t You Tell me shares Northern Monk’s values of community, collaboration, and creativity.

The concept of Hometown Pride came from the need to recognise and celebrate the contribution of Black British people in the various neighbourhoods and areas all British people live in, these places and the stories within them are pivotal to the British story.

Being Northerners, we wanted to ensure that the places that we highlighted reflected the diverse areas that Black British people have resided in from areas such as Tiger Bay in Wales to more specific places like 37 Lothian Street in Edinburgh. The label also contains links to resources where you can find out more about Black British history.

The beer itself – while it takes a backseat to the message – is a juicy 7.4% IPA, with strong aromas, flavours of citrus and orange peel, mixed with notes of dank lime and passion fruit.

Black History Month is often associated with the rousing speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, what is unknown is that three thousand miles away on that same day 28 August 1963 in Bristol, Britain was embarking on its own civil rights journey.

As we know, after World War 2 black people from the Caribbean and Africa, and people from India were invited to the United Kingdom to work and help rebuild the country, but unfortunately experienced various forms of discrimination. Particularly in Bristol, the Omnibus Company, refused to employ black and Asian drivers, which eventually led to a boycott of buses across the whole city.

The Bristol Bus Boycotts were led Paul Stephenson, Roy Hackett and Guy Bailey who were inspired by Rosa Parks and the subsequent boycott that occurred in Montgomery Alabama. The boycott consisted of blockades and sit-down protests to prevent buses from getting through the city centre, the boycott lasted for four months, in which time enough pressure had built that the Bristol Omnibus Company announced a change in policy.

Some have said the legacy and influence of the Bristol Bus Boycott was cemented in 1965 with the enactment of the United Kingdom Parliament Race Relations Act, a legislation which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places”; this was followed by the Race Relations Act 1968 which extended the provisions to housing and employment.

The Bristol Bus Boycott is a British story of community, resilience, and determination. There are many untold stories of Black British History, as we have entered a new decade the partnership between Northern Monk and WDYTM reflects the progression and spaces Black British people can make history in.

“Hometown Pride” is a celebration of the places where history happened and honours the great contribution Black Britons have made and the importance of history to our understanding of what’s happening today. You can purchase the beer by clicking here.

Felix Kankwambe is one-third of the Why Didn’t You Tell Me podcast, of which Northern Monk is a proud sponsor. Northern Monk X Why Didn’t You Tell Me “Hometown Pride” DDH IPA is available now from the Northern Monk webshop. The proceeds of this project will also be contributing a £5,000 donation to Black Minds Matter U.K., a charity selected by the Why Didn’t You Tell Me? podcast. You can find more information on BHM here.