Express & Star

Bostin' region celebrated on Black Country Day

The bostin' Black Country is being celebrated across the region just days ahead of Freedom Day.

Ready to celebrate Black Country Day Vicky Rogers, manager of Halesowen town centre BID

Black Country Day events are being held in a scaled-back slightly different way again due to Covid – but organisers have highlighted the importance of marking the day and remembering the region’s rich and proud history.

Steve Edwards, the region’s champion and the man behind Black Country Day and the festival, said: “The Black Country has a fascinating history which highlights the victory of the working class, but it also showcases exploitation and inequality.

“I am proud to be Black Country. But it’s the working class people who stuck together and fought against exploitation to ensure equality prevailed for everyone that make me proud.

“Working class Black Country people changed the world for the better but unless we explore the struggles they faced we don’t do their fight, hard work and victories justice.

“We should never forget what our ancestors went through and we should not allow people to cancel them or misinform us about their achievements.

“Black Country people were a force for good in the world and they literally went through hell to change it for the better.”

Dave Dancer, Ellie Hunt and Rob Moody prepare for Black Country Day celebrations

Steve said he was promoting Black Country history on social media this year and is calling for it to be taught in schools.

Events taking place include music and stalls in Halesowen town centre, with musician Billy Spakemon performing and a day of multicultural celebration in Dudley’s Market Place on Saturday.

The Black Country Music Com event has been postponed until September.

Visitors to Halesowen will be able to take the weight off and sit at some specially designed Black Country Day tables in the centre of town.

The town is at the heart of the scaled-back celebrations and has been decked out in bunting with entertainment for passing shoppers.

Councillor Anne Millward, Mayor of Dudley, said: “We all need something to celebrate after a tough year and Black Country Day is the perfect opportunity.

“It reminds us that we are made up of lots of different communities all with the same pride about where we live.

"Dudley is the historic capital of the Black Country with a proud past and a very ambitious future. Today we can all celebrate in our own way, safely, and remember everything that is bostin’ about the Black Country.”

Billy Spakemon said: “This is normally Black Country Festival month but because of the restrictions there aren’t big events taking place apart from in Halesowen. We will have a great day whatever – we’re going to celebrate the day as it’s really important.”

What is Black Country Day?

Black Country Day was established after the Department of Communities and Local Government marked the anniversary with a specially designed banner.

And that banner has now become the Black Country Flag – a proud symbol of the Black Country – which was designed by schoolgirl Gracie Sheppard.

Steve Edwards first came up the idea to celebrate the area in 2012.

The first Black Country Day was held on March 30, 2013, and the following year the Black Country Festival was set up and the date of Black Country Day changed to July 14 – the anniversary of the invention of the world’s first steam engine, the Newcomen Engine, built in 1712.

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