Celebrated annually in October
To promote and celebrate black history, we've created a list of blogs, books, quotes, podcasts, and videos that we hope will get you thinking, help you learn more, and start conversations.
Almost all of the items listed below are freely available online or from Warwick’s library (where this is not the case, this has been indicated).
Even when it's no longer Black History Month, it’s important to remember that Black history shouldn’t just be celebrated for only one month of the year, which is why we have this information available all year round.
Please find below all of the content we have collated, so you can read/watch/listen to the materials in October and beyond:
If you’ve got questions or comments about these emails, get in touch at equality at warwick dot ac dot uk.
Akala (March 2015) Sometimes, Knowledge is Power 2 “Inspiration is the strangest thing, How it travels one spirit to another, transforms how we think”.
For more music, have a look at this blog from last year Black History 365, 30 British Black Music Albums To Mark African History Month @ 30. For more from Akala, have a look at Akala (2018) Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire.
Kimberlé Crenshaw (June 2017) “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things”.
A civil rights activist and academic specialising in race and gender issues, Kimberlé Crenshaw is best known for coining the term ‘intersectionality’, defined in the quote above. And if you want to hear more from her on this topic, watch this TED Talk Kimberlé Crenshaw (October 2016) The Urgency of Intersectionality.
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together” Lilla Watson, Queensland Aboriginal Activists Group
Artist, academic, and activist, Lilla Watson is cited as the source for this quote, which she is reported to have said reflects the collective belief of the Queensland Aboriginal Activists Group. The quote expresses how humanity unities us, and sets a challenge to those who work for social change to focus on solidarity not charity.
“The capacity to live with difference is, in my view, the coming question of the twenty-first century” (Stuart Hall, 1993
For more on Stuart Hall, listen to this podcast Thinking Allowed (Feb 2014) Stuart Hall (1932-2014). Sociologist, cultural theorist, political activist, and former director of the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies Stuart Hall died in February 2014. This episode of Thinking Allowed (a BBC Radio 4 programme examining new research in the social sciences) pays tribute to this work on ’multiculturalism' and “the changing character of 'post Imperial' British society”.
Social activist, commentator, and former Labour Councillor Patrick Vernon OBE describes how October came to be Black History Month in the UK, and how it differs from the month in America (which is celebrated in February).
A key founder of Black History Month in the UK, Linda Bellos talks about the original thinking behind the creation of Black History Month and how it “provided an opportunity to show a history we knew existed but which had been hidden”, and reflects that it was a mistake to not try to “steer or control” the month.
“Sometimes the nation’s art can seem overwhelmingly white – both in subject and artist. Here at Art UK we want to share with you some of our favourite black and British artists from the nation’s art collection”.
“The story of black Britain is the story of Britain itself. For almost two millennia, black people have been born, lived and died here… Here are just a few of the pioneers and trailblazers who deserve our recognition”.
In light of Warwick’s new strategic commitment to inclusion, this joint blog written by Vice Chancellor Stuart Croft and SU Education Officer Larissa Kennedy describes how Warwick is working against racism.
As an added bonus, all but one of the books discussed in this article are available in the library.
“Olive Morris was a community activist in South London in the 1970s, who died of cancer aged 27 in 1979. Through her activities organising the black community and feminist activism, she left behind an extraordinary legacy of local activism”. Also have a look at the 2006, Remembering Olive Collective for more information about her life and interviews with people who knew he
In this TedTalk, Don John talks about his life working to identify, address and confront racism, to explore why Black history matters.
These two TED Talks consider femininity and masculinity, and what it means to be a Black woman and a Black man respectively. They also both touch on physical and mental health, each speaker drawing on their own experiences to examine these topics.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie talks about the misconceptions and misunderstandings that arise when only one version of someone’s story is told, drawing on her own experiences of hearing one version of poverty, how people viewed her when they had heard only one story of Africa, and “how she found her authentic cultural voice”. For more great TED Talks see Talks To Celebrate Black History Month.
“In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean”. A documentary series was also created for the BBC, unfortunately this is no longer available on iPlayer but the Black and British series can be seen on YouTube (although the video quality is quite poor).
“Both devastating and funny, The Lonely Londoners is an unforgettable account of immigrant experience - and one of the great twentieth-century London novels”. This edition includes an introduction by Professor of Modern Literature at the Open University, Susheila Nasta. If you want to learn more about the book, the Open University offer a free online course on The Lonely Londoners.
This book “begins to map the field of Black Studies scholarship from a British context, by collating new and established voices from scholars writing about Blackness in Britain. Split into five parts, it examines: Black studies and the challenge of the Black British intellectual; Revolution, resistance and state violence; Blackness and belonging; Exclusion and inequality in education; Experiences of Black women and the gendering of Blackness in Britain”.
“The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation in Jamaica, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her "Marguerite." Together they live through the bloody Baptist War and the violent and chaotic end of slavery. An extraordinarily powerful story”. The BBC recently announced that they will be making a three-part adaptation of the book, at present dates haven’t been announced for when the series will air so keep an eye out for it later this year/early next year. If you want to read Andrea’s other books Every Light in the House Burnin', Never far From Nowhere, Fruit of the Lemon, and Small Island are all available from the Library.
“This is the first volume in a monumental ten-volume survey of thirty thousand archival documents and original manuscripts from widely separated sources, brought together by editor Robert A. Hill to provide a compelling picture of the evolution, spread, and influence of the UNIA. Letters, pamphlets, vital records, intelligence reports, newspaper articles, speeches, legal records, and diplomatic dispatches are enhanced by Hill's descriptive source notes, explanatory footnotes, and comprehensive introduction. And if you want more on Marcus Garvey, have a look at Robert A. Hill and Barbara Bair Eds (1987) Marcus Garvey: Life and Lessons: A Centennial Companion to the Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Movement Association Papers “A collection of autobiographical and philosophical works produced by Garvey in the period from his imprisonment in Atlanta to his death in London in 1940”.
Ask anyone moderately interested to name a Black intellectual and chances are the response will be American: Malcolm X, Audre Lourde or Cornel West. Yet Britain has its own Black intellectual traditions and its own master teachers, among them C.L.R. James, Claudia Jones, John La Rose and Una Marson. However, while in the USA Black public intellectuals are an embedded feature of national life, Black British thinkers remain marginalized. This book explores histories of race, education and social justice through the work of Black British educators, campaigners and academics, and the wider world of Black British politics, from the 18th century to the present.
“In this classic study, cultural critic bell hooks examines how black women, from the seventeenth century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women… While acknowledging the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is still a dilemma, hooks challenges the view that race and gender are two separate phenomena, insisting that the struggles to end racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined”.
“Terrible, unspeakable things happened to Sethe at Sweet Home, the farm where she lived as a slave for so many years until she escaped to Ohio. Her new life is full of hope but 18 years later she is still not free. Sethe's new home is not only haunted by the memories of her past but also by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless”.
"Olaudah Equiano's 1789 narrative tells the remarkable story of his childhood in Africa, his kidnapping and subsequent years as a slave and seaman, and his eventual road to freedom in the Caribbean and in England". One of the first widely read books about slave narratives, this book is credited as playing a large role in influencing public opinion against the salve trade in Britain. This edition includes explanatory notes, reviews and essays on the narrative, and a map showing Olaudah’s travel.
“In 2001, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic published their definitive Critical Race Theory, a compact introduction to the field that explained, in straightforward language, the origins, principal themes, leading voices, and new directions of this important movement in legal thought”.
“In a comprehensive account, Peter Fryer reveals how Africans, Asians and their descendants, previously hidden from history, have profoundly influenced and shaped events in Britain over the course of the last two thousand years”.
The Empire Strikes Back analysed “the changing nature of the politics of race and the development of new forms of racial ideology…This volume attacked widespread attention at the time and it still remains a point of reference in current debates” (quote from Les Back and John Solomos Eds (2009) Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader).
The following books are well worth a read, but unfortunately aren’t available in our library:
“In Left of Karl Marx, Carole Boyce Davies assesses the activism, writing, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915–1964), a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist. Jones is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, to the left of Karl Marx—a location that Boyce Davies finds fitting given how Jones expanded Marxism-Leninism to incorporate gender and race in her political critique and activism”. If you’d like to read more about Claudia Jones there are two books about her available in the library – Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, And Poems, and I Think Of My Mother: Notes On The Life And Times Of Claudia Jones.
“You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from? We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change”.
“Lenny Henry presents a series of programmes tracing a century of black British theatre and screen”.
One From the Vaults is a podcast covering the trans history of North America and Europe. This episode focuses on the life of Sir Lady Java, a trans rights activist and performer who “fought back against anti-cross dressing laws which curtailed the life’s of so many trans people across the United States in the twentieth century”. For more on Sir Lady Java see Monica Roberts, TransGriot (December 2010) Sir Lady Java- Trans Civil Rights Warrior.
“Featuring key voices from the last few decades of anti-racist activism, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that lead to the politics of today” – to get a flavour of the podcast listen to a trailer on the podcast’s website here. The podcast covers topics including race in the 1990s, political blackness and ‘the big question’ (what white people can do to support race equality). The series is based on the bestselling book – Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017) Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race “a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism”, including an excellent opening chapter on the history of race and racism in the UK.
More from Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, in this podcast she “talks to Krishnan Guru-Murthy about not talking to white people about race, BME quotas in the workplace and how she would change the world if given the chance”.
“Blacticulate (Black + Action + Articulate) is a podcast and online community where we aim to upskill young Black individuals with the essential knowledge and practical skills needed for professional success”. This playlist features all of the Bl[act]iculate podcast interviews with Black women.
Sociologist, cultural theorist, political activist, and former director of the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall, appears on this episode of Thinking Allowed (a BBC Radio 4 programme examining new research in the social sciences) talking about multiculturalism.
See also specific pages on Sporting Heroes blackhistorymonth.org.uk/section/sporting-heroes and The Black Heroes of Science blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/science-and-medicine/black-heroes-science.
In 2003, the ‘100 Great Black Britons’ campaign was launched, with nurse and entrepreneur Mary Seacole being voted number one. You can read biographies of Mary Seacole and the other 99 Great Black Britons on the 100 Great Black Britons website. In 2017, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month, 100 Great Black Britons was relaunched by Patrick Vernon, who said “We hope that once more, 100 Great Black Britons will provide role models to black communities, and also emphasise that the history and achievements of black Britons are an integral part of our shared heritage in this country” (results will be announced today, 1 October 2018).
This webpage hosts a range of blogs on historic ‘firsts’, like Bishop Wilfred Wood, the Church of England’s first black Bishop; Diane Abbott, the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons; Sislin Fay Allen, Britain’s First Black Policewoman, and Frank Bailey, London’s First Black Firefighter.
“Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain”.
The Young Historians Project hopes to encourage the development of young historians of African and Caribbean Heritage and enable people to engage with Black British history, through the creation of digital learning resources and workshops aimed at young people. Have a look at this video about how and why the Young Historians Project was created.
The University recognises the power of staff networks. The BAME network aims to provide a space for discussion of issues relevant to its members and to contribute to University initiatives on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.
There are a number of modules at Warwick which may be of interest – you could consider using your Warwick Learning Vouchers to study these modules, or request to audit them (meaning attending classes, but not taking part in assessments). If you’re interested in studying any of these modules in either of the ways described above, please contact the department and module leader first.
- Caribbean History: From Colonialism to Independence.
- Race and the Making of the Modern World (SO122).
- Race, Ethnicity, and Migration in Modern Britain (HI2D4) (please note it is not possible to audit History modules, but you could still consider using your WLVs to study this module next year).
- Racism and Xenophobia (SO337).