Black History Month: What To Watch, Read & Do This October

Jessica Morgan
·10-min read

With the world finally waking up to a racial reckoning in 2020, Black History Month remains a vital and powerful time to celebrate the achievements of Black people in the UK, as well as looking to the future. However with social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future, the majority of events that would have taken place this month are going virtual for the first time. But worry not, there are still plenty of things to sink your teeth into.

For a whole month until 31st October, events celebrating African and Caribbean cultures and histories will take place up and down the country to help people find out more about the African and Caribbean people and events that have made a difference to the UK. Whether you’re learning about Black British history for the first time or wanting to explore your own heritage, below you will find all the events happening this month, from JW3’s Anti-Racism Workshop to Aké Festival’s digital arts and book event. They’re not to be missed.

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Do

What: Windrush: Portrait of a Generation

Where: Brixton Library, London

When: 1st October to December 2020

Celebrating the Caribbean community in south London, this photo-story by award-winning social documentary photographer Jim Grover illustrates the customs and daily lives of the Windrush generation: community clubs, dominoes, dancing, faith, family gatherings, the Jamaican home and service to the “Mother Country”.

To book a free slot to view the exhibition, please call 0207 926 1058.

What: Black & British History: Jamaica, Britain and the Akan Maroon War

Where: Online

When: Thursday 8th October, 7-8pm

The pioneering African Caribbean genealogist and acclaimed author Paul Crooks discusses a hidden Black and British history of Jamaica’s Maroons, focusing on the Maroon War with Britain and highlighting the impact of the Maroon activities as the prequel to Britain’s Industrial Revolution and the rise and fall of Britain’s system of slavery in the Caribbean. In the 45-minute online live cast, Paul critically discusses some key historical figures in this Black and British history, which is suitable for anyone new to exploring family history, Black history or to develop your skills and knowledge of Black history further.

Tickets are £5, click here.

What: Black UK History 101

Where: Jewish Community Centre London (JW3)

When: Wednesday 14th October, 8pm, £10

North London’s JW3 has joined forces with The Black Curriculum to host a series of workshops exploring the history of Black people in the UK, hearing the stories of Black Jews in the UK and focusing on how to combat racism in Jewish spaces and communities. Costing just £10, the 90-minute workshop is open to all at the Finchley venue. Due to social distancing measures, tickets will be sold in bubbles of one or two. For more information, email info@jw3.org.uk.

Tickets here.

What: My Black Mitzvah Party

Where: Jewish Community Centre London (JW3)

When: Thursday 29th October, £10

Celebrating Black and Jewish voices, My Black Mitzvah Party will hear from Yiddish singer Anthony Russell, songwriter and producer Autumn Rowe, actor C. Gerod Harris, rapper Nissim Black, and actor and director Rebekah Murrell as they respond to the question: if you could give your Bar or Bat Mitzvah speech today, what would you say? Tickets cost £10 and will be sold in bubbles of one or two. For more information, email info@jw3.org.uk.

Tickets here.

What: The Power of Words Anti-Racism Workshop

Where: Jewish Community Centre, London (JW3)

When: Wednesday 21st October, 8pm, £10

Want to learn how you can be more inclusive within the Jewish community and to hear the stories and voices of Black Jews in the UK?

Tickets here.

What: Young & Gifted Chats: Decolonising Education

When: 16th October, 7.30pm

Where: Theatre Peckham, London

Bringing together Black artists, academics, educators and entrepreneurs who have excelled in their fields, Decolonising Education looks to shake up systems such as higher education and law enforcement in light of the resurgence of the international Black Lives Matter movement. Featuring a panel of Black people making strides to deconstruct what is on the syllabus, as well as those who are creating their own, the discussion will pose the question: what does it mean to actively decolonise when living in the UK?

Tickets are £5. Book here.

What: Black Rights Matter: Defending Equality Against the New Far Right

When: 2nd October, 7pm

Where: Online

Shami Chakrabarti will be delivering this keynote speech which will be streamed via Facebook to reflect on the global movement for change from a human rights perspective. Chakrabarti is a campaigner and Labour peer, the former director of Liberty and a lawyer specialising in human rights.

What: Aké Arts and Books Festival

When: 22nd-25th October

Now in its eighth year, Aké virtual Arts and Books festival will be bringing together over 170 major speakers from across books, poetry, music, theatre and art, including Tayari Jones (author of An American Marriage), Jamaican novelist Marlon James, journalist and writer Afua Hirsch and author Esi Edugyan, to celebrate creativity on the African continent through panel discussions, art exhibitions, workshops, storytelling, book chats and more.

Tickets here.

What: Photo exhibition by Garfield McKenzie

Where: St Pauls Learning Centre, Bristol

When: October until December 2020

Bristol-based artist and photographer Garfield McKenzie has documented the Black elders who left their homeland to make the journey to a new life. The exhibition will feature sets of portraits of the Black pioneers who paved the way for the generations of Black British communities living in the UK today.

For more information, click here.

What: Zari Gallery exhibition

When: 1st-30th October 2020

Where: 73 Newman Street, London, W1T 3EJ

Zari Gallery in London is presenting an exhibition featuring Black artists for Black History Month. The team have carefully curated a number of artists from Alexandre Elenga, Lola Okunola, Marisa Quartin and Cherise Hewitt, highlighting each of their stories and contribution to the art world.

Book your visit here.

What: The Untold Stories of Africa by Global Outreach Foundation

Where: Garthwaite Crescent, Milton Keynes

When: 31st October 2020, 10am-12pm

The Global Outreach Foundation is investigating the role of history in the manipulation of consciousness, enquiring about structural racism as a means to suppress and perpetuate the oppressive conditions that people of African descent, especially youth, find themselves in most aspects of their lives. The free programme focuses on combating self-hate through imparting pride in African history and heritage. If you’re in Milton Keynes, this is an event you shouldn’t miss.

Get tickets here.

What: The Humble Gallery presents Black History Everyday: Black Presence

Where: Stratford Library, London

When: 10th October, 11am-12.30pm

This is a workshop to study photographic exhibition The Missing Chapter: Black Chronicles, featuring rare images portraying people of African and Caribbean descent in 19th century Victorian and Edwardian Britain. Participants will also get an opportunity to discuss the archival images and what they represent to young people today. For more information, email trisha@rosettaarts.org to register. Tickets are free.

What: Black Films Matter: Black Panther (Tribute to Chadwick Boseman)

Where: Statford East Picturehouse, London

When: 11th October, 7pm-10pm

A tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, Stratford East Picturehouse will be showing Oscar-winning Black Panther, which tells the story of T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, who must step forward to lead his people into a new future and confront a challenger from his country’s past. Tickets go on sale on 1st October. To book your place, click here.

What: Speak Truth To Power: Decolonising The Curriculum

When: 12th October, 7pm-8.30pm

Where: Online (details to be released on 1st October)

A series of community conversations, aimed at raising awareness, posing challenging questions, sharing knowledge and information and ultimately celebrating the achievements of Black people in Newham, the UK and across the world. Details will be released on 1st October.

Read

Anti-Racist Ally by Sophie Williams (out 15th October)

Anti-Racist Ally is a punchy, pocket-sized guide which unpacks complex anti-racist topics into their most important concepts and shows us how to be a truly better ally, by the brains behind @officialmillennialblack, dedicated anti-racism advocate and activist Sophie Williams.

Preorder here.

Loud Black Girls: 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené (out now)

Curated by the authors of Slay in Your Lane and boasting a foreword from Bernardine Evaristo, Loud Black Girls is a dynamic anthology of writing on the modern Black female experience from a host of powerful new voices including writer and journalist Fiona Rutherford, award-winning journalist and writer Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff and journalist and cofounder of Black Girl Fest, Paula Akpan.

Buy now.

The Power of Privilege by June Sarpong (out now)

The Power of Privilege offers practical steps and action-driven solutions to empower those who have been fortunate enough not to be ‘otherised’ by mainstream Western society and enables them to become effective allies against racism, written by the BBC’s first director of creative diversity and TV broadcaster, June Sarpong.

Buy now.

Good Hair by Charlotte Mensah (out 29th October)

In 2018, award-winning British-Ghanaian hairstylist and Hair Lounge salon owner Charlotte Mensah was the first Black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame. Having spent three decades styling thousands of people from all walks of life, she has now written this guide to loving and caring for your curls.

Preorder now.

Watch

Rocks

Rocks is the joyous new British coming-of-age drama from filmmaker Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), starring Bukky Bukray as 15-year-old Jamaican-Nigerian Olushola — nicknamed “Rocks” by her friends — a resilient teenager who returns home from school to discover that her mother has abandoned her and her younger brother Emmanuel. It’s a joyful yet heartbreaking story about young female friendship.

Available to stream on Netflix now.

Growing up Black in the UK

This powerful documentary shares the experiences of three Black teenagers who describe what being Black is like for them in the UK. Coming together to create their own manifesto to advocate for change, they speak to celebrities including DJ Ace and Lewis Hamilton for advice.

Available on BBC iPlayer late October

Mo Gilligan’s Black, British & Funny

Channel 4’s new hourlong show is due to air this month. BAFTA-winning comedian Mo Gilligan will be looking back at the Black comedy circuit’s history, detailing the UK’s pioneering Black comedians (Angie Le Mar, John Simmit, Slim and Michael Dapaah) who paved the way for him, as well as exploring why so few of its stars have found mainstream success. The show also highlights the new faces that you should keep your eyes on.

Airs 15th October on Channel 4 at 10pm

TV’s Black Renaissance: Reggie Yates in Hollywood

This documentary explores how a wave of hit shows written by and starring African-American talent is shaking up the TV industry. Reggie Yates travels to LA to meet some of the stars, writers and directors of shows such as Atlanta, Dear White People and Insecure including Mahershala Ali, Caleb McLaughlin, Lena Waithe and Justin Simien, and tackles some of the questions in Trump’s America that their work addresses.

Watch on 6th October at 10.30pm on BBC Four

Check back here for more updates and listings throughout the month.

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