Event Series

Black History Month

Find a course

Celebrating Black History Month

The origins of Black History Month date back to 1920s, when it was established in the US. Today in the UK we celebrate Black History Month in October and it has become important in the cultural calendar of many organisations including universities.

The event is intended to recognise the contribution and achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage. It is also an opportunity for people to learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes.

Our University talks and events programme reflects and celebrates our community throughout the year. As part of this, we celebrate Black History Month with a wide range of SU and University events, including in Art Exchange as part of the current exhibition ‘Breathing the Light’. 

This page will be continually updated throughout the year as events are confirmed.

Black History Month in Library and Cultural Services

To celebrate Black History Month we have created this reading list. It's full of classics, modern classics and factual works by Black authors or about Black history.

We have added in some interesting video accompaniments to our reading list, which you can view on Box of Broadcasts (available free of charge for all current University of Essex staff and students).

Southend and Loughton

At Southend and Loughton come and check out our displays where we will be giving you ideas of content to read, watch and listen to from Drama Online and our new ‘Black Drama’ collection which includes 1,700 plays. We will also be asking you how we can make our collections and services more diverse- tell us your views for a chance to win a prize.

Events

Breaking the Silence Tour

Date: Saturday 2 October – Thursday 21 October

Created by Collisions Theatre Company in partnership with researchers from the University of Essex and Brunel University London, Breaking the Silence is a unique immersive theatrical tour for Black History Month, which celebrates 18th century Black British Abolitionists.

It fictionalises a meeting by key members of the 18th and early 19th-century British abolitionist movement. Through speeches, personal narratives, and song, it tells their stories in their own words.

An immersive performance written and directed by Dr Holly Maples, educator and scholar at the University of Essex and Dr Inge Dornan, Historian at Brunel University London designed to raise awareness of the 18th Century Slave Trade in Britain and celebrate 18th century Black British Abolitionists.

Performing in historic churches where freed slaves are buried and/or with close ties to the slave trade and abolition in Sunderland Point, Manchester, Fulham, Hampstead, Soham, Liverpool, Bristol, and Nottingham.

Find out more about the Breaking the Silence Tour

Breathing the Light

Date: Monday 4 October – Saturday 20 November

Location: Art Exchange

Breathing the Light creates a platform for artists whose work responds to the condition of our times.

It takes as its starting point the home – a place of refuge where we nurture relationships, feed souls and whose shelter we return to at the end of the day. During the pandemic this role altered.

This exhibition showcases work by some of the most exciting and thought-provoking artists working in the UK today, including Larry Achiampong, Emma Hart, Daniel and Clara, Joy Labinjo, Urara Tsuchiya, Barbara Walker and Caroline Walker.

Find out more about the Breathing the Light Exhibition

Breathing the Light Launch Party

Date: Thursday 7 October, 6pm-7pm

Location: Art Exchange

Come and join us in celebrating the opening of Art Exchange’s latest exhibition, Breathing the Light.

We will be raising a glass to the artists in the exhibition who have utilised creativity as an act of resistance as they look afresh at the world around us during these unprecedented times.

Breathing the Light includes recent work by some of the most exciting artists working in the UK today, including Larry Achiampong, Daniel and Clara, Emma Hart, Joy Labinjo, Urara Tsuchiya, Barbara Walker and Caroline Walker.

Find out more about the Breathing the Light Launch Party

Lakeside Theatre – Audition workshops

Date: Every Tuesday from 12 October - 16 November

Location: Lakeside Theatre

Join BAFTA nominated and award-winning actress and playwright Yolanda Mercy for 6 weeks of audition workshops.

Find out more about Audition workshops

New Voices in Black British History

Date: Wednesday 13 October, 4pm-5.30pm

Location: Online

To mark Black British History Month the Centre for Public History has invited three of the most exciting new voices in Black British History to participate in a roundtable, discussing their research and exploring current and future directions in the field. There will be an opportunity for questions from the audience, and all are welcome.

Find out more about the New Voices in Black British History event and how to register

Breathing the Light – Curator's Tour

Date: Wednesday 20 October, 6pm-7pm

Location: Art Exchange

Join curator Jess Twyman for a live online tour of Breathing the Light and find out more about this thought-provoking exhibition that creates a platform for artists who respond to the world around us. Jess will expand on the themes and ideas behind the artworks on show, as she attempts to delve into what inspired the artists to create these works during unprecedented times.

Find out more about Curator's Tour of the Breathing the Light exhibition

Navigating the challenges of Higher Education: the lived experiences of Black academics

Date: Friday 22 October, 2pm-3pm

Location: Online

Find out more about this seminar

Black Primed Market: A Showcase of Black-owned businesses

Date: Saturday 23 October, 9am-5pm

Location: Square 3

Essex Students’ Union Present Black Primed, a showcase of Black-owned businesses coming to Colchester campus.

Find out more about the Black Primed Market on the Students’ Union webpage

Black Primed

Date: Saturday 23 October – Wednesday 27 October, 12 noon – 2pm

Location: The Hexagon

An exhibition that brings together Black artists working in Britain today. This platform celebrates new work by talented artists from across the country. It is hoped that the show will lead to greater recognition of these gifted Black artists and the inspirational work they have made.

Selected and curated by Adjuah Ebo and Samira Diebire.

Participatory theatre and production of cultures of equality with and by sex workers in Cape Town

Date: Wednesday 27 October, 1pm-2pm

Location: Online

Join the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship for an insightful seminar with Dr Phoebe Kisubi.

Find out more about this Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship event

Spotlight on: Ellis George

Date: Tuesday 26 October, 7pm-8pm

Location: Online

Ellis is an actor from East London and starred in Steve McQueen’s acclaimed Small Axe. She will be speaking about what it was like to be a part of such a pivotal film for Black Brits, as it highlighted a forgotten part of history. She will also be talking about what it’s like to be a Black woman in the industry and offering advice to students.

Find out more about this Students' Union event with Ellis George

A Black Renaissance (1924-1930): Reimagined Futures and Pasts

Date: Friday 29 October, 2pm-3pm

Location: LTB 3 (and online)

Dr Jak Peake from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies will examine the ways that a Black-led Renaissance in literature and the arts was conceived and its repercussion for conceptions of Black history.

Find out more on our event page

Cine10 Presents: Moonlight

Date: Thursday 28 October, 6.30pm-9.00pm (doors open at 6.15pm)

Location: Cine 10

A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood. Chosen by Essex students through a social media vote as part of our Black History Month celebrations.

For further information visit the Students’ Union page

Curators Tour of Breathing the Light

Date: Wednesday 3 November, 6.00pm-6.40pm

Location: Online, via Art Exchange’s Instagram Live

Join curator Jess Twyman for an live online tour of Breathing the Light and find out more about this thought-provoking exhibition that creates a platform for artists who respond to the world around us. Jess will expand on the themes and ideas behind the artworks on show, as she attempts to delve into what inspired the artists to create these works during unprecedented times.

Breathing the Light includes paintings, drawings, ceramics and film by some of the most exciting UK artists working today, including Larry Achiampong, Emma Hart, Daniel & Clara, Joy Labinjo, Urara Tsuchiya, Barbara Walker and Caroline Walker.

Breathing the Light – Artist's Talk with Joy Labinjo and Larry Achiampong

Date: Wednesday 10 November, 6pm-7pm

Location: Art Exchange

Artists Joy Labinjo and Larry Anchiampong – who are both showing work in our exhibition Breathing the Light – will expand on the ideas and inspiration behind their work.

Find out more about the Breathing the Light Artist's Talk

Race, Gender and Policing

Date: Thursday 2 December, 4pm-6pm

Location: Online

Join the Centre for Criminology for an insightful online seminar with Professor Aisha K. Gill PhD CBE.

Find out more about Race, Gender and Policing

Events in Colchester and the surrounding areas

Essex Cultural Diversity Project

ECDP is supporting Black History Month this October. There are a number of events taking place across Essex, organised by their friends and collaborators.

Find out more about ECDP

Colchester Black History Month – Public Opening Day

Date: Friday 1 October, 11.00am-2.30pm

Black History Month Colchester begins with an opening at the One Colchester Community Hub shopfront with art exhibits, presentations, talks, "Live" Music and displays for all of the community.

Find out more about Colchester Black History Month

Mercury Theatre – Antigone

Date: From Friday 1 – Saturday 16 October

This modern retelling of the classic Greek tragedy is a powerful thriller whose poetic passion transcends time.

Find out more about Antigone at the Mercury Theatre

Firstsite Black History Month Community Day Celebration

Date: Saturday 2 October, 10.00am-4.30pm

Firstsite are hosting Black History Month Colchester 2021, a day of celebrations and entertainment.

Find out more about the Firstsite Community Day Celebration

Colchester Black History Month @ One Colchester Community Hub

Date: From Saturday 2 October and various dates in October, 11.00am-2.30pm

One Colchester Community Hub shopfront with art exhibits and displays for all of the community. With the support of the Minories Gallery and Community 360, Black History Month Colchester will be in residence in the shopfront at 2/6 Long Wyre Street CO1 1LH in the town centre.

Find out more about the events at the One Colchester Community Hub

Black Lives Matters – The Art of Protest: Placards and Pens

Date: From Monday 4 October – Friday 22 October, 12pm-4pm (open Mondays to Thursdays)

Curated by trustee, Sophie Kabangu, The Art of Protest brings together over a hundred of the placards created for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Colchester last year, alongside photographs and commentaries from those involved on the day. As part of Black History Month, showing at our Trinity Square space from 4-22 October.

Find out more about The Art of Protest

Colchester Black History Month - The Festival of Navaratri

Date: Thursday 7 October, 10am-5pm

Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere.

The Navaratri festival runs from the 7-15 October.

Find out more about the Festival of Navaratri event

Colchester Black History Month – ‘The Spoken Word’

Date: Friday 8 October, 9.30pm-11.30pm

An evening of music and entertainment in the new bar and restaurant at The Mercury, with Omar Aziz, Antony Woodley and Poet Lawrence Savage.

Find out more about The Spoken Word event

Colchester Black History Month @ One Colchester Community Hub Youth Activities – Learn to Draw

Date: Saturday 9 October, 11.30am-2.30pm

Learn to Draw is a fun tutorial for young people to try easy techniques to learn and to improve their creative talents. All drawing materials, pencils, drawing pens and papers will be provided. Each session is limited to 10 - 12 participants. Each session will be concluded with FREE refreshments and desserts at Kaspers.

Find out more about the Learn to Draw event

Colchester Black History Month - The Prevention of Suicide Amongst Black Men – “A Time to Talk”

Date: Tuesday 12 October, 7.30pm-9.00pm

Black History Colchester and African Families in a UK Zoom meeting that aims to bring together Black men for “A Time to Talk” and to discuss ideas and thoughts around the issues and the effects of mental health.

Find out more about A Time to Talk

Colchester Black History Month - AFiUK Community Surgery @ One Colchester Community Hub

Date: Wednesday 13 October, 11.00am–2.30pm

The One Colchester Community Hub shopfront will host the African Families in the UK Staff and volunteers to provide a community advice surgery, with suggestions and answers to many questions, thoughts and concerns within our communities.

Find out more about the AFiUK Community Surgery

Colchester Black History Month – Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories art installation video tour

Date: Thursday 14 October, 11am-4pm

Tilbury Bridge Walkway is an iconic location which has an historic significance to the Black community in Britain. This artwork is a unique statement memorialising the lives of those people who came from the Caribbean who carried their British passports proudly as British citizens with hope and expectation. They passed through this location as one of the original walkways where SS Empire Windrush passengers, in 1948 arrived. Although many arrived before 1948, those that arrived here were the first large post war wave of British colonial citizens to disembark from the passenger ship at Tilbury Cruise Terminal.

Find out more about the Tilbury Bridge Walkway of memories video tour

Colchester Black History Month – Domino Tournament

Date: Saturday 16 October, 4pm-7pm

One Colchester Community Hub Shopfront will host our first, Colchester Caribbean Elders “V” Southend Caribbean community group “Dominoes Tournament” for all of the community.

Find out more about the Domino Tournament

Black History Month Dovercourt and Harwich

Date: Tuesday 19 October, 11am-4pm

Black History Month displays and presentations: Why do we celebrate Black History Month and the arrival of Empire Windrush to Tilbury, Essex with power points, slide shows and video.

With a musical entertainment by Omar Aziz, a multi-Instrumentalist sound practitioner from Colchester. Specialising in Gongs, Handpan, Flutes, Djembe and other world instruments to provide an uplifting and diverse sound experience.

With refreshments and a light lunch.

Find out more about Black History Month celebrations in Dovercourt and Harwich

Colchester Black History Month – The Ambassador book launch at Firstsite

Date: Wednesday 20 October, 10am-4pm

The official launch of a new publication “The Ambassador” by Author Rachel Walton.

Find out more about The Ambassador book launch

Colchester Black History Month @ One Colchester Community Hub Youth activities - ‘Stop and Search – Know Your Rights’

Date: Saturday 23 October, 11.00am-3.30pm

The session will concentrate on the issues and an understanding of your individual rights and the correct procedures that a police officer should comply to when executing Stop and Search. Each session is limited to 10 – 12 participants. Each session will conclude with FREE refreshments and desserts at Kaspers.

Find out more about Stop and Search - Know Your Rights

Colchester Black History Month – ‘The Spoken Word’

Date: Saturday 23 October, 9.30pm-11.30pm

An evening of music and entertainment in the new bar and restaurant at The Mercury, with Omar Aziz, Antony Woodley and Poet Lawrence Savage.

Find out more about The Spoken Word

Colchester Black History Month – Celebrating Tubby Hayes screening

Date: Saturday 23 October, 7pm

As part of our weekend celebrating the talents of the late, great Tubby Hayes, Firstsite will be screening, prior to the Simon Spillett Quartet’s concert on Sunday 24 October, ‘Tubby Hayes: A Man in a Hurry’. Celebrated British jazz saxophonist Simon Spillett will give a brief introduction to the film, followed afterwards by a live Q&A session in the cinema.

Find out more about Celebrating Tubby Hayes screening

Colchester Black History Month – Celebrating Tubby Hayes concert

Date: Sunday 24 October, 7pm

Celebrating Tubby Hayes: The Simon Spillett Quartet at the Colchester Arts Centre.

Find out more about the Celebrating Tubby Hayes concert

Colchester Black History Month – AFiUK Community Surgery

Date: Wednesday 27 October, 11am-3pm

One Colchester Community Hub shopfront will host the African Families in the UK Staff and volunteers to provide a community advice surgery, with suggestions and answers to many questions, thoughts and concerns within our communities.

Find out more about the AFiUK Community Surgery

Black History Month Clacton

Date: Thursday 28 October, 11am-4pm

Black History Month displays and presentations: Why do we celebrate Black History Month and the arrival of Empire Windrush to Tilbury, Essex with power points, slide shows and video.

With a musical entertainment by Omar Aziz, a multi-Instrumentalist sound practitioner from Colchester. Specialising in Gongs, Handpan, Flutes, Djembe and other world instruments to provide an uplifting and diverse sound experience.

With refreshments and a light lunch.

Find out more about Black History Month Clacton

The UK Black Business Show 2021

Date: Saturday 30 October, 9.30am-5.00pm

To celebrate UK Black History Month, The UK Black Business Show will be taking place in October at the QEII Centre in London. The show will highlight the achievements and contributions Black businesses have made to the economy. Attendees will gain cutting-edge insight and advice in entrepreneurship, leadership, soft skills and cultural development from some of the UK’s leading Black business owners.

Find out more about the UK Black Business Show 2021

Previous Black History Month events

2020-21

Ipswich Museum Decolonisation + Democratisation live-streams

  • Decolonisation + Democratisation: Historian, comedian, writer and museum curator, Subhadra Das talks to the Art’s Council’s, Liam Wiseman.
  • Reinterpretating Regions: We delve into the place-based projects ‘Snapping the Stiletto’ and the Museum of London’s, ‘Curating London’.
  • Community Created Permanent Displays: Manchester Museums and the Science Museum talk through their experiences, as they went from community contribution to co-creation.
  • Beyond the Museum’s Walls: Through loans and international partnerships, the Courtauld Institute and Brighton and Hove Museums take us further afield.
  • Sharing Power: Ipswich Museums, the South London Gallery and York Museums Trust reveal some of the hidden and, often hard histories being brought to the fore.
  • All together now: We welcome back all our speakers, as Subhadra Das chairs a wrap-up roundtable.

Colchester and surrounding areas

  • Essex Cultural Diversity Project: A range of events taking place across Essex, organised by their friends and collaborators.
  • Windrush pop-up exhibition: Colchester Castle displays banners from the Essex Cultural Diversity Project detailing information about the early days of the ship, the voyage and life in Britain for those that arrived by the ship as well as their descendants.
  • Black History Month at the British Library: A range of events reflecting the history, lives and contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Being Black in Essex: Hi-lites of BHM Colchester activities, an interview with a local Colchester student and music from DJ Michelle Lu-Hang.
  • Mercury Online - Black, Essex and Here 2.0: We are creatives, we are from Essex and we are black and we’ll be asking where do we fit in? Where are the stories in live-performance that reflect our Essex heritage and experience?
  • Colchester Black History Month – Being Black in Essex: Hi-lites of BHM activities, an interview with Black Lives Matter Colchester Chairperson and Lead Activist, Sophie Kabangu and music from Michelle and Sydney.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Being Black in Essex: Hi-lites of BHM Colchester activities, an interview with student and LGBTQ activist Racheale Fontenella with music from Michelle and Craig.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Prevention of Suicide amongst Black Men: A closer look at mental health issues in BAME communities with guest speakers.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Being Black in Essex: Hi-lites of BHM Colchester activities and an interview with Educator and Entrepreneur Godwin Daudu.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Being Black in Essex: Hi-lites of BHM Colchester activities and an interview with the Chair of the Minority Ethnic Support Association and the General Secretary of the Black Police Association. Mac Neife. With music by Omar Aziz.