October is UK Black History Month, a chance for Black people to celebrate their heritage and culture and acknowledge Black achievements and contributions to British society.
Black History Month originated in the 1920s in the United States, where celebrations now take place in February. On our side of the pond, Black History Month began in 1980s London, originating as a form of community activism aiming to challenge racism. Now, the initiative has expanded beyond the community, with museums, galleries, workplaces and even supermarkets getting involved in the celebrations.
Each Black History Month centres around a different theme, and this year’s is “Proud to Be”, inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Across the country, there are tons of events and celebrations to get involved in, plus a whole load of online activities. From cooking classes to comedy shows, we’ve rounded up the ones to add to your calendar this October.
James Barnor: Acra/London – A Retrospective
What: a major survey of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, whose career as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer spans six decades and records major social and political changes in London and Accra.
When: until 24th October.
Where: The Serpentine. Entrance is free, book here.
Black History Month UK 2021 Treasure Hunt
What: The Black History Month UK treasure hunt will take you on a short tour of London’s hidden Black past. You’ll take in all the famous landmarks and find out the history behind them.
When: 16th October.
Where: Trafalgar Square. Tickets cost £12, book here.
Chef Fat Daddy’s Black History Book Reading
What: “Fat Daddy’s Black History” book reading – kids welcome.
When: 17th October.
Where: CRATE St James Street, 35 Saint James Street, E17 7FY
Is God Is
What: Aleshea Harris’ play is a revenge tale about two women seeking justice and taking control of their own narratives.
When: until Saturday 23 October 2021.
Where: Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS. Book tickets here.
North East of England
What: The drifters are back on the road with a line up hand-picked by Tina Treadwell, president of the Treadwell entertainment group and owner of the drifters name.
When: Monday 18th October.
Where: Tyne Theatre & Opera House, 117 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne. Book tickets here.
What: A scorching new production of one of the most popular operas ever written. Penned 150 years ago, the themes of femininity, desire, violence and toxic masculinity resonate now more than ever.
When: Wednesday 3rd November 2021 – Friday 25th March 2022.
Where: Theatre Royal Newcastle, 100 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6BR. Book tickets here.
South East of England
Black Girls Hike: Sussex-Brighton Racecourse Circular (Easy)
What: A safe space for Black/Mixed Race women of Black African Caribbean descent to reconnect with nature.
When: Saturday 16th October.
Where: Manor Hill, Brighton, BN2 9DL. Details here.
What: Adapted from real-life testimonies, award-winning theatre company LUNG examines the impact of austerity, our failing social care system and what happens when a child becomes the parent.
When: Saturday 23rd October.
Where: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Millbrook, Guildford GU1 3UX. Book tickets here.
Mayor of Lewes Presents: Black History in Sussex
What: An evening of celebration and reflection featuring special guest speaker Nick Hines from Stand Up to Racism, award-winning poets John Agard and Grace Nichols, acclaimed flutist Keith Wait, Priss Nash, and local musician Daniel Lauro to highlight the significance of black history month and its often-hidden contribution to wider British history.
When: Saturday 23rd October.
Where: High Street, Lewes, BN7 2QS. Book tickets here.
Spaces for Listening
What: A safe space created by and for women of African and Caribbean descent in the heart of Birmingham. It is a place for: “Black and mixed Black women to come and share their experiences or listen to others. The group creates a sense of belonging, a sisterhood, a safe space to be vulnerable, listen and learn. It is founded on the principles of peer support – mutuality, reciprocity, strength-based, community facing and progressive.”
When: Until 11th December 2021.
Where: The Lighthouse Young People’s Centre, 100 Alma Way, Birmingham B19 2LN. More info here.
Living Culture Art and Cultural Exhibition
What: Described as: “A daring invitation to breath African civilisation as far back as BC2000 to 2021 through the mouthpiece of the Djali, the traditional keeper of African indigenous history”, this three-dimensional exhibition aims to open up dialogue and challenge embedded stereotypes in Black history.
When: Until 3oth October 2021.
Where: Wava Hall, 31 Barras Lane, Coventry, CV2 4QB, United Kingdom. Tickets available here.
North West of England
Black History Month X Clockwise
What: A business focused workshop which focuses on the: “Education and empowerment of Liverpool businesses in tackling racial inequality both now and for the future”.
When: 14th October 2021.
Where: Clockwise Offices, Edward Pavilion, Liverpool L3 4AF. Book tickets here.
Black History Month 2021 at HOME
What: A curated season of events specially put together to honour Black History Month with the aim of: “celebrating Black artistic brilliance and talent across film, theatre, art, music and comedy”. You’ll be able to explore and discover ground-breaking Black artists working across the North West.
When: Until 31st October 2021.
Where: 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN. Tickets available here.
Liverpool: Black History and Black Activism
What: An online workshop with writer, entrepreneur, educator and activist Chantelle Lunt which “Unpacks the history of Black people in Liverpool across the centuries, alongside wider contributions by Black cultural figures in the UK.”
When: 14th November 2021
Where: Online with more info here.
East of England
This too, is Cambridge
What: The Race Equality Network is hosting a special panel discussion centred on the Black staff experience at the University of Cambridge, with a range of voices from libraries, colleges, and departments.
When: Friday 22nd October 2021.
Where: Selwyn College, Cambridge, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DQ. Book tickets here.
Norwich: A Black History
What: A guided walking tour which celebrates the Black men and women of Norwich and Norfolk and the influence and impact they had on making the local area what it is today.
When: Various Fridays in October-December 2021.
Where: The Forum, Bethel Street, Millennium Plain, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1BH. Get your tickets here.
You can find all Black History Month 2021 listings here.