Last Friday evening Rummin' Tings, the Caribbean bar and restaurant on Hollywood Road, was close to bursting. People spilled onto the streets, while peals of laughter and shouted greetings competed with the booming music inside.

Some banners at the door announced the cause for the celebration: the launch of Hong Kong International Black History Month. Although it's less well known internationally, Black History Month has become a vital tradition in the US. It's a lively series of events that examine and celebrate the continuing contributions of African Americans to American and global culture.

The event started in 1926 as Negro History Week, which was planned to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and statesman Frederick Douglass in February.

The idea was to highlight African-American history - which was often neglected or obscured - mainly for the benefit of black students.

The week of activity has since grown into Black History Month, with events held throughout February. It has moved outside the US, and has been recognised in Canada since the mid-1990s. A version is observed in Britain in October.

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