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Celebrating Black History Month 2018

This October marks Black History Month in the UK, and there's plenty going on at Queen Mary to mark the occasion and engage with the richness of black, African and Caribbean arts, culture and history.


Inclusivity is one of our core values at Queen Mary. Our diversity of cultures and backgrounds is key to the vibrancy of our community and to the knowledge and ideas that we are able to generate and pass on. We are extremely proud that we attract such a diverse staff and student body, and are fully committed to providing an environment where everyone is supported to flourish and fulfil their potential.

Find out how you can get involved with Black History Month events at Queen Mary.

About Black History Month in the UK

Black History Month in the UK was first launched in 1987 by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo of the Greater London Council (GLC) where its primary aim was to highlight and celebrate the hidden history and contributions of African and Caribbean people to the UK. The GLC nominated October as Black History Month, to coincide with the Marcus Garvey celebrations and the African Jubilee Declaration. It soon spread to other UK cities such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol.

Windrush and the NHS: 70 years on

NHS Windrush nurses. Picture: NHS England
NHS Windrush nurses. Picture: NHS England

This year, in June, marked the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush. Many of its 492 passengers took up roles in the newly formed National Health Service (NHS), launched two weeks later. This represented a new era of Caribbean people settling in to support the reconstruction of post-war Britain. Today, black and minority ethnic (BME) people make up almost a quarter of the NHS workforce, and still face challenges and inequalities.

During Black History Month, there are a number of events taking place to mark the 70th anniversary of Windrush: 

  • ‘Hear BME Out: Being BME in the NHS’ will take place 6-8pm on Tuesday 23 October in the Perrin Lecture Theatre, Whitechapel, presented by Giulia Olayemi, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Officer at Barts and The London Student Association, and Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé, the head of the NHS BME Network | More details on the Students' Union website
  • Black Nurses: The Women Who Saved The NHS is a BBC Four documentary that reveals the untold story of how thousands of Caribbean and African women answered the call from ‘the Mother Country’ to come and help build Britain’s National Health Service.
  • ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’ is a photo-essay by Jim Grover on display throughout October at the Art Pavilion as part of Tower Hamlets Council’s Black History Month programme as a way to help it reach out to local communities and new, east London audiences | More information

Taking part in celebrating Black History Month 2018 at Queen Mary

  • The Students' Union is organising lots of activities for staff and students, including a movie night, dance workshop, meet and greets, and pub quiz.
  • The Curve at Mile End will be offering a menu in celebration of Black History Month every day from Monday 1 to Friday 5 October, including ackee and salt fish, fried red snapper, jollof, nyama choma (grilled meat) and jerk chicken. View the daily menu at
  • Mile End and Whitechapel libraries will feature a book display on essential Black History Month reading. The list includes Race by Toni Morrison, The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvdon, Introducing George the Poet by George the Poet, Home Going by Yaa Gyas and many more. For more information, email
  • Talks, seminars and workshops:
    • Research Seminar: ‘Race, Law and Haiti’ on Wednesday 3 October with speaker Dr Robert Knox from the University of Liverpool, hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations | More information
    • Global Politics Roundtable: ‘Riding the post-colonial and de-colonial wave – what will the intensified interest in post-colonialism contribute to our understanding of world politics?’ on Wednesday 10 October hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations as part of their research seminar series | More information
    • Associate Professor Catherine Lu from McGill University, Canada is visiting Queen Mary on Tuesday 16 October to discuss her book Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics, which is a study of how to conceptualise practices of justice and reconciliation that aim to respond to colonial injustices in international and transnational contexts | RSVP
    • Building the Anti-Racist Classroom’ is a two-day intensive intersectional workshop taking place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October which aims to bring academics and students together to tackle racism in our places of learning, organised by the School of Business and Management | RSVP
    • Public talk: 'American Jews & African Americans' on Monday 22 October hosted by the Queen Mary Pan-African Society and Jewish and Israel Society | More information  
    • Research Seminar: ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God: the 2018 election in post-coup Zimbabwe’ on Wednesday 24 October hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations as part of their research seminar series | More information
  • Black History Month celebrations and activities are also taking place in the local community through Tower Hamlets Council, including self-guided black history walks, book groups, theatre, film screenings, music, arts events and themed workshops. Download the brochure here.

If you have an event or activity celebrating Black History Month that you would like included on this list, please email



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