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Black History Month 2023

Date

October is Black History Month (BHM) in the United Kingdom, when we collectively recognise the contributions of Black people to British society and globally. The theme this year is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, specifically celebrating and highlighting the achievements of Black women.The University of London, The Senate House Library, The School of Advanced Study and its institutes have organised a programme of events and exhibitions to mark Black History Month.

Highlights

Black Men on the Couch poster

Main Event: Black Men on the Couch

Tuesday 17 October, 6:00pm, Senate House, book your place here.

In a society that often silences the voices and struggles of Black men, Black Men on the Couch breaks the silence and invites you to listen, learn, and engage. Join us as we bring together remarkable minds, George the Poet and Gary Crosby in conversation with Rotimi Akinsete who have contributed immensely to this crucial dialogue in.

Racism, poverty, colonisation, unemployment and stop and search have resulted in Black men in the UK being significantly more likely to experience poor mental health than their white counterparts. Black Men on The Couch is a series of national events that looks at the specific challenges and inequalities that they face in seeking professional help and accessing mental health care.

George the Poet


George the Poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. His innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and social commentator and seen his work broadcast to billions of people worldwide.

In 2019, his audio offering ‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ won a prestigious Peabody Award and five Gold British Podcast Awards, including the highly coveted Podcast of the Year. More accolades followed in the years to come, including an NME Award, two Gold ARIAS and three New York Festival Awards. In 2021, the University of London presented George with an honorary doctorate in literature. George is now embarking on a PhD at UCL'S Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. His research focuses on the socio-economic potential of Black music.

Gary Crosby OBE


Gary Crosby OBE is a British jazz double bassist, composer, music arranger and educator. He was a founding member of celebrated group The Jazz Warriors in the 1980s and has worked with many top international artists.

Described by the BBC as "a towering figure in jazz", Crosby has been the recipient of many honours, including an OBE for Services to Music in 2009 and the Queen's Medal for Music in 2018, making him the first jazz musician to be awarded this accolade.

Crosby holds an honorary fellowship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance and is a member of the Jamaica Jazz Hall of Fame for his contributions to Jamaican music. In 2021, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by the University of London Institute in Paris.

Rotimi Akinsete


Rotimi Akinsete, founder and director of Black Men on the Couch, is a therapeutic counsellor and clinical supervisor with extensive experience in community, NHS and higher education counselling and wellbeing services. Black Men on the Couch is described as a special interest project focussing on the psychology and identity politics of African and Caribbean men and boys.

Senate House Library BHM exhibition
You are invited to celebrate Black History Month by exploring the Senate House Library collections and sharing your book suggestions for a display throughout October on the 4th floor of the Library. Find titles you have enjoyed or found inspirational relating to this year's theme or Black History more broadly by searching the library catalogue, then add them to this Padlet.

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library BHM exhibition
During October, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) will be hosting a Library exhibition based on this year’s theme. A display located by the library entrance on the 2nd floor of the IALS building will highlight the achievements of Black women in the field of law as well as showcase items from the library and archive collections that illustrate their important contributions. The exhibition will celebrate the careers of legal professionals whose success in the field has led the way for Black women lawyers in future generations. Additionally, it will highlight the work of Black women activists and campaigners who have fought tirelessly for racial equality in the law.

UoL Black History Month Calendar

Wednesday 4 October

Senate House Library in Deller Hall Café
12:00 – 14:00
Deller Hall Café, Lower Ground Floor, Senate House
No registration required
Please come to a BHM starter event in Deller Hall Café in Senate House to meet the librarians and leaf through some of the highlights from a special display.

Work in Progress Seminar – “Race and Materiality in Early Modern Italy: Plaster ‘Moors’ in Venetian and Roman Household Inventories”
14:00 - 15:30
IALS Lecture Theatre, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square (or online)
Register here
British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Hannah Lee will deliver a Work in Progress seminar on her postdoctoral project “The Matter of Race in Early Modern Italy: 1500-1700.” This seminar will begin with an introduction to the project, which explores the development of constructions of race in early modern Italy through the lens of the materials used by artists and craftsmen to represent African people. She will then focus on a group of references found in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Venetian and Roman inventories to figures of “moors” made from plaster. The Work in Progress seminar explores the variety of subjects studied and researched at the Warburg Institute.

Tuesday 10 October

Caribbean Studies Seminar Series – “Caribbean Collection for the Future?”
16:00 - 17:30
Online
Register here
Amara Thornton from the Institute of Classical Studies will be delivering a seminar as part of the CLACS Caribbean Studies Seminar Series. Historic documentation of archaeological collecting in the Caribbean offers valuable insights for the (re)interpretation of Caribbean artefacts now held in museums in the UK. How can these insights be made accessible to Caribbean diaspora communities in Britain today? This presentation will discuss some Caribbean collecting histories and two projects that have used historic documentation to generate new ideas for contextualising, interpreting, and displaying museum holdings of Caribbean artefacts.

Thursday 12 October

“Linguistic Racism: Beneath the Surface of Language and Racism”
16:00 – 17:00
Bedford Room, G37, Ground Floor, Senate House
Register here
At this event, Gabriel Nascimento will present his book Racismo linguístico: os subterrâneos da linguagem e do racismo ("Linguistic Racism: Beneath the Surface of Language and Racism," published by Editora Letramento in Brazil and still unpublished in English). This work holds interest not only for language scholars but for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the complexities of racial inequality. With his analysis of the relationship between language and racism, Nascimento exposes the shortcomings of traditional linguistics, continues the anti-colonial project initiated by Franz Fanon, and engages in dialogue with contemporary decolonial critique, paving the way for a renewal in studies of languages, cultures, and societies.

Saturday 14 October

“We Were Here: Camden Black British History” (Bloomsbury Festival)
14 - 21 October (closed on Sundays)
9:00 - 20:00
Crush Hall, Senate House
Free, no registration required
This exhibition features a collection of eight biographies of significant individuals of African and Caribbean heritage who have lived, worked, or studied in Camden. The individuals included in this collection of stories highlight the struggles, subjugation, and discrimination faced by many people across the African diaspora over centuries. They also represent triumph over adversity through not only survival, but also determination and strength. Their achievements led to significant social change in local, national, and international contexts. The exhibition celebrates the lives of these individuals who, along with many others of African and African heritage, contributed greatly to Camden’s history and the history of Britain today.

Tuesday 17 October

Black Men on the Couch
18:00 – 21:00
Beveridge Hall, Senate House
Register Here
We are pleased to host Black Men on the Couch, a national mental health event, focused on destigmatising conversations around the mental health of Black men in the UK and access to mental healthcare such as talking therapies. Therapist and founder of Black Men on the Couch Rotimi Akinsete will lead an informative and engaging conversation with Gary Crosby OBE and George the Poet. 

Thursday 19 October 

Inua Ellams and Fuel Present: An Evening With An Immigrant (Bloomsbury Festival)
19:00 – 21:00
Beveridge Hall, Senate House
Register here
Award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams, born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in what is now considered to be Boko Haram territory, left Nigeria for England in 1996 aged 12. With poems, stories, and anecdotes, Inua tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, finding friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or a place to call home. This performance is presented as part of the Bloomsbury Festival in association with the School of Advanced Study, where Inua is a Practitioner in Residence based at the Institute of English Studies, and Choose Love, an organisation that supports refugees and displaced people all over the world. The event will be introduced by Sarah Singer, Professor of Refugee Law at the Refugee Law Initiative.

Thursday 26 October

Women of the Windrush Generation
18:00 - 20:00
Bedford Room, G37, Ground Floor, Senate House
Register here
Juanita Cox, a Research Fellow on the AHRC-funded ‘Windrush Scandal in its Transnational and Commonwealth Context’ project, will be in conversation with Joyce Trotman and Sherlene Rudder OBE, who will share their memories of their colonial education, their journeys to Britain as British subjects, and their experience of work in the UK. Joyce Trotman trained as a teacher in Guyana before migrating to England and becoming Head of the Remedial Department at Scott Lidgett Boys’ Comprehensive School in Bermondsey. Sherlene Rudder OBE arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1964. She became a Health Visitor and a specialist Sickle Cell Thalassaemia nurse inspired by her great-grandmother, one of the first community midwives in St Lucie, Barbados.
 

Events from our Federation Members

During the month of October, the University of London’s federation members have organised a range of events on Black history and culture as well as issues related to the Black community. Please see a non-exhaustive list of the events from the Federation below:

The Courtauld

29 September 2023 – 14 January 2024
Claudette Johnson: Presence
A major exhibition of work by founding member of the Black British Arts Movement, Claudette Johnson (born 1959), will open at The Courtauld Gallery. For over 30 years she has created large-scale drawings of Black women and men that are at once intimate and powerful.

5 October 2023 18:00 – 20:00
Visions of the Haitian Revolution’s Rebel Women and Men
In this talk, acclaimed Haitian artist François Cauvin and University of Glasgow researcher Dr Rachel Douglas will be in conversation. They will discuss the iconic portraiture of Haiti’s rebel women and men and the visual aftershocks of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) in contemporary Haitian art particularly during the current moment of “ensekirite” political and social violence.

 London Business School 

2 October 2023 12:00 - 17:45
Bright Network Black Heritage Future Leaders 2023
Celebrate and be inspired by professional achievements of Black Heritage senior leaders, connect with employers who prioritise DE&I within their organisation and culture, widen your options and discover opportunities in sectors you may not have explored or considered yet.

University College London (UCL)

2 October 2023 18:00 - 20:30
IAS Book Launch: Black Boys
Join author Dr Clive Chijioke Nwonka for the launch of his new book 'Black Boys: The Social Aesthetics of Black Urban Film'. Organised by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS).

11 October 2023 18:00 – 19:30
Black Youth Work and Higher Education: Radical Possibilities
In this seminar, three London based youth workers working specifically with Black 16–18-year-olds to exchange ideas on how the educational work undertaken by them within racially diverse communities may contribute to the knowledges, expectations and experiences of Black undergraduates and their attainment within degree programmes in higher education.

King’s College London (KCL)

4 October 2023 13:00 - 14:00
NMES Black History Month 2023: Taking CTRL: From Potential to Power
Join the Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences department at King’s for an online event in celebration of Black History Month. Get ready to be inspired as we explore how individuals can harnessed their potential to create real change and empower their communities.

30 October 2023 13:00 - 14:00
The Culture Trap: Ethnic expectations and unequal schooling for Black youth
In this talk about his new book, The Culture Trap (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr Derron Wallace argues that the overreliance on culture to explain Black students’ achievement and behaviour in schools is a trap that undermines the complex factors that shape how Black students experience schooling.

London School of Economics (LSE)

4 October 2023 18:30 - 19:30
BMH: LSE In conversation with Arun Blair-Mangat
To celebrate Black History Month, join LSE for this conversation between acclaimed actor, writer, voice artist, singer and alumnus of LSE Arun Blair-Mangat and LSE President Eric Neumayer. 

5 October 2023 18:30 - 20:00
Recovering enslaved peoples' perspectives from archives, literature, and art
Join LSE for this special event with Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University Henry Louis Gates, Jr in conversation with Turner prize-nominated artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien. Associate Professor of International History at LSE Imaobong Umoren will chair the event.

10 October 2023 19:00 – 20:30
Slavery, capitalism and the Industrial Revolution
Join a round table discussion of the themes raised in Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson’s new book Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. In the new book, which forms the basis of this event, Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson ‘follow the money’ to document in revealing detail the role of slavery in the making of Britain’s industrial revolution.

25 October 2023 18:30 - 20.00
The Psychosis of Whiteness
Kehinde Andrews, the UK's first Professor of Black Studies, at Birmingham City University will deliver a talk about his new book, The Psychosis of Whiteness. An all-encompassing, insightful and wry look at living in a racist world, by a leading Black British voice in the academy and in the media.

30 October 2023 18:30 - 20:00
Black Feminism in Europe
In tandem with the theme of Black History Month, "Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, and Honouring Matriarchs of Movements", this panel discussion analyses the role of Black women in social, cultural and political movements historically and in our times.

Goldsmiths

5 – 27 October 2023
Black History Month at Goldsmiths
See a list of events organised or hosted by Goldsmiths throughout October, as well as those featuring their community of students, staff and alumni. 

Royal Academy of Music

20 October 2023 17:00 - 
Moving through Time 
To mark Black History Month, Academy pianist Zara Williams has curated a programme celebrating the cultural and musical influence of Black composers, spanning both centuries and genres. 

SOAS

24 October 2023 18:30 - 20:30
Public Lecture - Anti-slavery Activism in West Africa
Come and discuss anti-slavery activism and research on slavery today in West Africa with Mauritanian blogger Koundou Soumaré, Dr Lotte Pelckmans (Copenhagen U) and Dr Marie Rodet (SOAS, University of London). We will screen documentary and animation films produced by and with the speakers.

25 October 2023 18:30 - 20.00
An Evening Conversation with Nadifa Mohamed and Dr Nuur Hassan
An engaging evening with the acclaimed Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed on her literature and upcoming projects. She published Black Mamba Boy (2009), The Orchard of Lost Souls (2023), and The Fortune Men (2021). Nadifa Mohamed is followed by Dr Nuur Hassan’s academic research and publications on Somali children’s education and parenthood. He is the author of two books: "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Somali Boy Growing Up in Minnesota: Family, Schooling, and Identity" (2022) and "The Role of Somali Parents in Their Children's Education" (2018).