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Professor Gus John: What Should Black History Month Mean Today?

Friday 26 October 2018
12 - 2pm
Panorama Suite 3, Rootes Building.


Professor Gus John is a renowned activist and academic who has been working in education, youth work and social justice since the 1960s. In 2016, he was chosen as one of the 30 Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders globally.

On Friday 26 October, Professor John will speak at Warwick on what Black History Month should mean today. Last year was the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK, and we’re now in a time of, on the one hand, growing movements on decolonising curricula, mobilising the global African diaspora, and reparatory justice, and on the other hand, the resurgence of fascism in Europe. This talk will explore this subject and the implications for the Higher Education sector and Black History Month more broadly.

We are thrilled to be hosting Gus for what promises to be an engaging and enlightening discussion. This event is open to all staff and students as well as external guests, and we hope as many people as possible are able to attend this fantastic event.

The timings for the event are as follows:
• 12pm - 12.30pm Lunch (please let us know if you won’t be attending for the lunch).
• 12.30pm - 1.15pm Professor Gus John.
• 1.15 - 1.45pm Q&A with Gus.
• 1.45 - 2pm Additional networking time.


About Gus John

Professor Augustine "Gus" John was born in Grenada and has lived mainly in the UK since 1964. He was a member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) in the middle to late 1960s and a member of the Council of the Institute of Race Relations in the early 1970s. He is a scholar/activist who has done notable work in the fields of education policy, the role of schooling and education in promoting social justice, school improvement, management and international development. Since the 1960s he has been active in issues of education and schooling in Britain's inner cities such as London, Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. He was Assistant Education Officer and Head of Community Education in the Inner London Education Authority and in 1989 became the first African Director of Education in Britain, a post he held for just under 8 years.

Prof John has worked in a number of university settings, including as Visiting Faculty Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (for 10 years). Since 2007, Gus John has been an associate professor of education and honorary fellow of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the UCL Institute of Education and from 2016, Visiting Professor at Coventry University, where he works with the Vice Chancellor and University Leadership Team in improving the strategic management of the University and building a culture of equity.

In 1997, he was appointed advisor to former British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on race and social inclusion and in that capacity worked with civil servants on the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. In 1999, Gus John co-founded the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN), a charitable organisation providing advocacy and representation for excluded school students and their parents/carers. He is now its Patron and Chair. Between 2003 and 2007, he evaluated the Race Equality Policy & Action Plan of every University/Higher Education Institute in England, Scotland and Wales for their respective funding councils.

Gus John was a founder trustee of the George Padmore Institute, an archive and library in North London, established in 1991, that is dedicated to archiving the struggle of the African and Asia Diaspora in post-war Britain and Europe.

In 2008, he wrote an epistolary report (with Dr Samina Zahir) of a research project they conducted for Arts Council England: ‘Speaking Truth to Power - critical debate on Identity, Aesthetics and Ethnicity; a diversity of voices in theatre and the Arts in England’.

In 2016, he was chosen as one of the 30 Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders globally.
In December 2016, he delivered the British Library Lecture ‘Changing Britannia through the Arts and Activism’ to mark 50 Years of New Beacon Books, the first black publishers and booksellers in Britain, founded by John La Rose in 1966.