As we enter October, the UK is shifting into a period of celebration, sombre reflection, and recognition of Black culture and history during 2023's Black History Month.
To add to the conversation, HELLO! is taking a look at how some notable stars mark Black History Month, which in the US falls in February. From the stage to the presidential palace, here's how some of the world's biggest names have celebrated the month in the past and set the scene for their continued contributions.
Michelle Obama, the first African American woman to serve as First Lady, used her role to serve Black History Month from the White House. In 2016, Michelle highlighted the contributions of African American women to dance, by hosting workshops for local students. Indeed, anyone who indulged in her best-selling memoir, Becoming, will know how close local work is to the former First Lady's heart.
In 2023, Michelle promoted her non-profit campaign, When We All Vote, during Black History Month on 22 February. Her campaign, founded in 2018, promotes Black communities working together to empower one another and close the race gap in electoral participation. A video shared by Michelle on Facebook captured her saying: "We've got to make sure that every eligible voter can easily cast a ballot." Fellow Co-Chairs of When We All Vote include Selena Gomez, Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex marked Black History Month in 2020 with an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard which revealed the couple's list of Black History Month Next Gen Trailblazers. These are a group of people recognised for their efforts to challenge prejudice and who have offered personal inspiration to Harry and Meghan.
During Black History Month in 2022, the pair made their first joint public appearance at the NAACP Image Awards. On receiving the award, Meghan said: "For the millions of young women who will rightfully find inspiration from this moment, let's remind ourselves that Black achievement is something that exists not just today or yesterday, and not just in moments of celebration, but as a fabric woven into the entire chronicle of the American story."
It is no secret that Meghan's integration into the royal family was a rocky one, and widespread speculation about how race plays a part should not be ignored. Black History Month is certainly a time that Meghan feels close to on a personal level, and it will come as a surprise to no one to hear more from the Duchess in the coming years.
Queen Bey is certainly Queen at sharing major news on the first day of Black History Month. In 2017, the singer announced her pregnancy with twins on the first day of February and captioned the post on Instagram with: "We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two and we thank you for your well wishes - The Carters."
Fast forward six years and Beyoncé waited until the first day of 2023's Black History Month to announce her Renaissance World Tour. The tour itself went down in music history, having grossed $296 million with still 20 more shows to go - a world record number for a Black artist.
American actress Kerry Washington showed her steadfast loyalty to Black History Month last year with a photo of Beverly Johnson - the first Black woman who appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1974. Alongside the post on Instagram came a solemn and glowing portrait of Kerry, staring intently into the camera's eyes, and a caption that read: "Our history is a tapestry of beauty, culture, power, community, resilience, and strength. And through it all - the pain and the joy - Black women have held it down!"
In explaining the photo, Kerry continued: "She showed little Black girls, the fashion industry, and the WORLD that Black is beautiful and powerful."
Fast forward to 2023's Black History Month in the US and Kerry continues to serve Black women who have made a mark in culture. "Once again this year I am celebrating the joy, triumph, love and resilience of some amazing Black women, who've come before me and share about how they inspire me," she said on then-Twitter, now X.
This year's Super Bowl halftime headline act, Rihanna, saw her non-profit Clara Lionel Foundation run a campaign during Black History Month which honoured frontrunners in climate justice, such as Colonel Charles Young, the National Park Service's first Black superintendent. Launched by the Fenty founder in 2012, the Clara Lionel Foundation is committed to preparing the Caribbean for natural disasters and helping it to become the world's first climate-resilient zone.
Rihanna may have become the wealthiest woman in music in 2021 when she reached billionaire status, but the We Found Love star certainly gives back via philanthropy. In total, the Clara Lionel Foundation has spent more than $54 million on justice initiatives across the Caribbean and the US.
Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer
Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer took celebrations of Black History Month to a national level when on Good Morning America the television presenters announced the start of a series which would recognise the impact of US Historically Black Colleges and Universities. On the last day of the month, Robin took to Facebook and said: "We're stepping and strolling into the last day of Black History Month this morn by highlighting the influence and impact of historically Black sororities and fraternities...also known as the Divine 9...coming up on #GMA."
Together, the co-hosts saw the Divine Nine, a group of five fraternities and four sororities, perform on 28 February - the final day of the US's Black History Month.
Robin also leaves her own mark on Black history, having been the first female African American sports journalist for ESPN in 1990. The 'baller and broadcaster' etched her name in history books whilst overcoming her own health issues. In 2007, viewers watched her bravely announce her breast cancer diagnosis live on air.