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Black History Month 2022 - Time for Change: Action Not Words

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October is Black History Month in the United Kingdom, when we pay special attention to the often untold history, experiences, and contributions of black people to this country and to the wider world.

Black History Month 2021

Over the last few years, movements such as “Black Lives Matter” have brought to the forefront the issues of systemic racism and social inequalities in society. Black History Month provides us with the opportunity to understand the background of these events, and to listen to the experiences of people who have suffered and continue to experience discrimination in many areas of their lives - for no other reason than their race or colour of their skin.

Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate the innumerable contributions both past and present, made by Black people that continue to shape the United Kingdom and the wider world. It is important to acknowledge that Black History is intrinsic to British history, and its impact is benefited by all. Until it is taught together as one history, Black History Month offers an opportunity to engage, learn, share, and inspire people from all communities. The more we engage Black achievements of the past, the more we expect to see them again in the future. 

This year marks 35 years of Black History Month and the theme is 'Time for Change: Action Not Words'. It’s not just a month to celebrate the continued achievements and contributions of Black people to the UK and around the world. It’s also a time for continued action to tackle racism, reclaim Black history, and ensure Black history is represented and celebrated all year round.

University of London events and activities

3 October 2022 – 18:00 - 20:00
Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS) , University of London

"A STORY OF BONES" | Film screening to mark Black History Month | Institute of Commonwealth Studies (sas.ac.uk)

To mark Black History Month , the Institute of Commonwealth Studies is hosting the screening of ‘A Story of Bones’. As the Environmental Officer for St Helena’s troubled £285m airport project Annina Van Neel learned of the island’s most terrible atrocity – an unmarked mass burial ground of an estimated 9,000 formerly enslaved Africans in Rupert’s Valley. It is one of the most significant traces of the transatlantic slave trade still on earth. Haunted by this historic injustice, Annina Van Neel now fights alongside renowned African American preservationist Peggy King Jorde and a group of disenfranchised islanders – many of them descendants of the formerly enslaved – for the proper memorialisation of these forgotten victims. The resistance they face exposes disturbing truths about Britain’s colonial past and present.

This film screening will be followed by a short discussion by Peggy King Jorde, and a Q&A session.

Celebrating Black British History Through Music poster BHM 22
Celebrating Black British History Through Music poster BHM 22

25 October 18:00 - 20:00
Celebrating Black British History Through Music
The Macmillan Hall, Senate House, University of London

This special event organised by the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in partnership with our AHRC-funded Windrush Project looks at the ways in which music has reflected the experiences of the ‘Windrush Generation’ and contributed to the betterment of British society. We are delighted to announce that we will be joined by three very special guests: 

Professor Shirley Thompson OBE is an internationally renowned composer, conductor, violinist and filmmaker. Born in London to Jamaican parents, Shirley has maintained a long-running interest in exploring the histories of the Windrush Generation, dating back to her 1992 film Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories. She subsequently composed an operatic work, Women of the Windrush, which has been performed several times including at RADA. She was invited to compose a work for the first commemoration of Windrush Day in 2018 and created Psalm to Windrush for the Brave and Ingenious which was performed at Westminster Abbey and at the National Windrush Monument Unveiling on 22 June 2022. Shirley will be talking about the part her music has played in recognising the contribution of the West Indian diaspora. 

Daniel Rachel is a musician-turned-award-winning-author.  His first book, Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters, was a Guardian and NME Book of the Year. His 2017 book, Walls Come Tumbling Down: the music and politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge won the the Penderyn Music Book prize. He followed this in 2019 with Don't Look Back in Anger: The rise and Fall of Cool Britannia, an Evening Standard and Metro Book of the Year. His latest book, Like Some Forgotten Dream: What if the Beatles hadn’t split up was published in 2021. Daniel will be talking about racism in the British music industry, the Rock Against Racism movement, 2 Tone and Red Wedge.

Alexander D Great (Alexander Loewenthal), is a professional musician and songwriter who has appeared on stage, television and radio in Trinidad, Dominica and the UK. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and brought up in London, Alexander began his musical career in the 1960s and rediscovered his calypso roots in the late 1980s. From February 2000 until July 2012, he was calypsonian-in-residence for the BBC and he was UK Calypso Monarch in 2010 and 2011. Alexander has also appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. For this event, he will perform a variety of songs including some that explore the struggle of the ‘Windrush Generation’.

Chair: Dr Juanita Cox (School of Advanced Study, Windrush Project research fellow)
 

26 October 2022, 15:30 -16:30 (Microsoft Teams) 
Race Equality Group meeting

The Careers Group federation of careers services within the University of London has established a new Advisory Panel of Colleagues of Black, Asian and Diverse Heritage as part of its approach to tackling structural inequalities in the Group. 

In this session, the Director of The Careers Group, Kate Daubney, will share information about how the Panel has come into existence. Jan Orlebar, a UoL-employed Careers Consultant at King’s College London and Nicole Estwick, a UoL-employed Careers Consultant at UCL, are two of the first cohort of Advisory Panel Members; they will reflect with Kate on the impacts of structural inequality and lessons for organisations in tackling it, and discuss what worked well in the appointment process to the Panel as well as what could be done differently to continue to remove barriers for future Panel Members to engage.

This session is open to staff from the University of London and the University of London Careers Group. If you would like to attend this meeting, then please email diversity@london.ac.uk to register your interest and receive a link to join the meeting.

28 October 2022 - ICS/CARA Syria online seminar 14:00 - 18:00
Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Conflict: Perspectives from the Cara Syria Programme

This seminar will showcase the research of scholars who have participated in the Cara (Council for At-Risk Academics) Syria Programme, which has provided support for academics affected by the Syrian crisis since 2016. The seminar brings together a number of research papers exploring how Syria’s cultural heritage has been impacted by the Syrian civil war since it started in 2011. It will also explore the diverse effects of violence on both tangible and intangible heritage from archaeological sites to marriage customs and literature, highlighting the importance of participants’ local knowledge and collaboration across international academic communities.

Other events

During this month, numerous online events are being hosted by University of London member institutions and external organisations that are open to staff and students to attend.  

27 October 2022 19:30 - 20:30
Ancient African Queens: New Perspectives on Black History

In the 19th and 20th centuries European and American Egyptologists appropriated ancient Egypt into an idea of ‘Western civilisation’ and set it apart from other African cultures. This historical colonial bias against Africa has ramifications on how we interpret ancient Egyptian and Sudanese collections today. 

Although less well-known, ancient Egypt’s southern neighbour, Nubia also had a long and fascinating history. Through focussing on powerful queens, including the Qurna burial featured in our Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery, our speakers will demonstrate how ancient Nubian culture was equally important to that of ancient Egypt.

Curator Dr Margaret Maitland and Dr Solange Ashby will examine colonial-era biases which cast ancient Egypt as culturally superior and consider the politics of representation. They will reassess the cultural connections between ancient Egypt and Nubia, applying this new perspective to historical collections in recognition of the importance of Nubian material culture.

This event includes a live Q&A chaired by Professor Katherine Harloe, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Katherine is the first woman Director of the Institute and the first Black Professor of Classics in the UK.

5 October 2022, 16.00-17.00
Royal Holloway, University of London’s Black and Global Majority Staff network are hosting 
An Audience with I. Stephanie Boyce, who is the President of the Law Society of England and Wales.

The Law Society was formed in 1825, and in March 2021 she made history by becoming the 177th president, the sixth female and the first black (and first person of colour) to take the role. This is an opportunity to celebrate her tenure and achievements, and discuss the legal profession and future of legal training with her as part of our Black History Month.

SOAS University of London is celebrating Black History Month (BHM) with an exciting programme of events throughout the month of October and beyond. Further details of other SOAS BHM events can be found on their website

The key events that we would like to highlight are:

4 October 2022, 17:00 - 19:00 
Unfinished Business - Voices of the LGBTQIA+ Revolution by Katlego K Kolanyane-Kesupile

Katlego K Kolanyane-Kesupile who is a Botswana-born, trans-identifying international award-winning cultural architect, communications specialist, development practitioner and human rights advocate is the guest speaker. SOAS’s Community Fellow – Dan Glass will chair the event. 

This event series will focus on practical tools to dismantle colonial homophobic laws and utilising 2022 as the 50th anniversary of Radical Gay Pride in Britain as a launchpad. 

21 October 2022, 18:00 - 20:00   
35 Years of BHM in Britain. A conversation with the founder, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo

Akyaaba is responsible for establishing the concept of a months’ celebration of Black culture and history - as what we recognise today in Britain as Black History Month (BHM). Akyaaba will join SOAS for an in-conversation style event where we reflect on the beginnings of Black History Month in Britain, their memories of and contributions to Black history.

20 October 2022, 17:30 - 19:00
The University of Oxford’s BME Staff Network will host a Black History Month Lecture with Dr Victoria Showunmi who will share her thoughts on Sophisticated Racism: Navigating the Terrain based on her latest publication Understanding and Managing Sophisticated and Everyday Racism: Implications for Education and Work.
 
This hybrid event is open to the public. You can register for virtual event online via the following link. For information for how to register to attend in-person, please email: bubbladmin@eng.ox.ac.uk.
 

The University is a member of enei. Staff can create an account and attend the following events or access resources:

6 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm
#BHM2022: Celebrating Intersectionality and Belonging
Join this event to learn about and discuss intersectionality and how you can apply these learnings to better support your colleagues.

20 October 2022, 11:00am - 12:00pm
#BHM2022: Why Allyship Matters
Join this event to learn about the role of allies in positive culture change and how you can apply this learning to better support your work colleagues.

To mark Black History Month, the Museum of London is hosting a number of activities to enable visitors to explore.

Explore Black Londoners' stories in the Museum of London collection through articles, videos and photography. Hear the voices of the Windrush generation, learn about dub reggae's influence on the capital and explore the heritage of Black Londoners thanks to our on-site programme and online resources.

Black History Month Books and Films

You might wish to check out the IBHM list of books to read and enjoy which include fiction and non-fiction titles.

We also recommend these books by Black British authors. 

•    A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped the Modern Game by Calum Jacobs 
•    In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson
•    The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling Out Racist Stereotypes by Elijah Lawal
•    Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi 
•    Understanding and Managing Sophisticated and Everyday Racism: Implications for Education and Work by Victoria Showunmi and Carol Tomlin
•    Maybe I Don't Belong Here: A Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery: David Harewood (with a Foreword by David Olusoga) 
•    Black British Lives Matter: A Clarion Call for Equality : A collection of Essays, edited by Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder
•    Black British History: New Perspectives (Blackness in Britain) by Hakim Adi 
•    The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World by Kehinde Andrews
•    Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton 

If you have any of your own recommendations of books by British authors with African heritage, do tell us about them on Twitter - @SASNews and @UoLondon

We have also put together a list of good British films - either made by or featuring Black British artists. Many of them can be watched online, courtesy of the BFI:

•    Pressure (1976) by Horace Ové | The first British black feature film - YouTube - Hailed as Britain's first black feature film, Pressure is a hard-hitting, honest document of the plight of disenchanted British-born black youths, set in 1970s London.

•    BABYLON - YouTube - A film about finding community through art and trying to exist in a society that is hostile.

•    BLACKS BRITANNICA – YouTube - David Koff’s insurrectionary film 'Blacks Britannica’ was banned in its day. Made in the heat of the 1970s militant Black British anti-racist struggle, it was censored and attacked on both sides of the Atlantic and labelled dangerous, untrue, and extreme. It presaged the urban uprisings of the 1980s. 

•    Burning an Illusion - BFI Player - Menelik Shabazz’s pioneering first feature traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher’s London.

•    Babymother (1998) - YouTube - Single mother Anita (Anjela Lauren Smith) has attitude and ambition.  Determined to become a successful singer, she forms an all-girl reggae group with her two friends. Although struggling emotionally and financially, Anita and the group begin to gain the exposure that might help them rise above their setting. 

•    Bullet Boy - BFI Player - Saul Dibb’s stark and compelling urban drama. When Ricky (Ashley Walters) is released from prison, he soon finds himself drawn back into old ways while trying to protect his brother Curtis (Luke Fraser) from the advances of a local gang.

•    STUD LIFE - YouTube - JJ is a Black Lesbian, 'Stud'. Together with her best friend, Seb, a white gay boy, they work as wedding photographers. They are both looking for love - but in the wrong places.

•    Belle - (2013) - YouTube - The illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Captain in the Royal Navy finds her unique social standing become instrumental in the campaign to end slavery.

•    Second Coming (2015) - YouTube - Nominated for a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer (Debbie Tucker Green), the story revolves around a woman who becomes pregnant under unusual circumstances, and the drama that this creates with her family and friends.  The film is in the style of magical realism and the dialogue is often unspecific and ambiguous.

•    The Last Tree 2019 - YouTube - A powerful coming-of-age drama.  See also: The Last Tree: Home | Picturehouse Entertainment

Do you have any Black British Films you would recommend? Keep an eye on our Twitter feeds and let us know - @SASNews and @UoLondon