Event Series

Black History Month

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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 our Lakeside Theatre. 

Our programme will be based around the UK Black History Month theme for 2023: ‘Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, and honouring Matriarchs of Movements’ which highlights the crucial role of Black women in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities.

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

2023 Events

Jerkpit Caribbean Pop-Up!

Date: Monday 2 October – Friday 6 October, 9am to 5pm daily

Location: Lakeside Theatre Café

Get ready for a culinary adventure that will transport your taste buds to the vibrant Caribbean!

Find out more about the Jerkpit Pop-Up on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

Thriving Socially at University Workshop 

Date: Wednesday 4 October

Location: Lakeside Theatre Studio

Join Shomi Williams, Psychological Therapist and founder of inclusive health education African and Caribbean groups platform, Lafiya Healthas she delivers this exciting workshop which aims to help you thrive socially in a new environment. University of Essex students only.

Find out more the workshop for University of Essex students on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.


Date: Friday 6 October, 7.30pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre

Being a father in the 21st century is complicated. Being the father of a young son of mixed South Indian, Turkish and Austrian heritage, even more so. Three very different stories of being and having a dad are brought together with humour and sensitivity, through physical theatre and multilingual text. Centred around everyday, relatable experiences, this original new work explores fatherhood across generations from the 1960s to the present day.

Find out more about the performance of Fatherhood on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

Oedipus Electronica

Date: Thursday 12 October, 7pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre

Oedipus Electronica is a modern-day, gig-theatre take on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. It is a gripping gut-punch of a show, blending drama, dance and music. It is both entirely original and true to the tragedy of its ancient antecedent.

Find out more about Oedipus Electronica on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

BAME Staff Forum: Black History Month Event 'Empowering the BAME Community through celebrating influential women'.

Date: Tuesday 17 October, from 12.30pm

Location: The Hexagon

BAME Staff Forum: Black History Month Event with guest speakers Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu OM DBE FRCN and University of Essex Alumna Maxine Obeng.

Dame Elizabeth will be 'in conversation' virtually with Health and Social Care students.  Maxine Obeng will tell us about her career journey and strategies for students and staff.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions and light refreshments will be served.

Visit our Eventbrite page to find out more about the event and to register your place.

Access to Academic Careers for Black Researchers

Date: Wednesday 18 October 2023, 2pm-4pm

Location: Colchester campus, NTC 1.04 or zoom.

This event will feature some of our wonderful academic staff who have excelled in their respective academic fields. They will share their personal journeys, challenges overcome, and provide valuable advice on navigating the academic landscape. There

Students will need to register via email: brh@essex.ac.uk

Telling Your Own Story

Date: Wednesday 18 October, 5.30pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre

Join Nigerian-British performer, writer and educator, Tania Nwachukwu, for an intimate skills training workshop on telling your own story confidently.

Part of the Lakeside Theatre’s Black History Month “Celebrating the Sisterhood” programme, this workshop is free to University of Essex students.

Find out more about the workshop on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

Law student to theatre-maker alumni workshop

Date: Thursday 19 October, 2pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre Studio

Join Ophelia, a University of Essex law graduate who dared to chase her dreams in the world of acting, for this workshop in the Lakeside Theatre Studio. This workshop is free for University of Essex students.

Find out more about Ophelia and how to book your place on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

Black Students Mixer

Date: Thursday 19 October, 6pm-8pm

Location: The Atrium

The Black Students Network Presents their first community mixer of the year. Join Colchester’s black student community in celebrating your culture and heritage. Meet new people, make new friends, play games, and have some fun. Soft drinks and snacks will be provided.

Find out more on the Students' Union what's on page.

You are African first before anything

Date: Thursday 19 October, 7pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre

University of Essex Law graduate-cum-successful theatre company operator, Ophelia Charlesworth, brings her much anticipated show to the Lakeside Theatre and is followed by a 15 minute Q&A session.

Find out more about the show on the Lakeside Theatre webpage.

His Story Her Story Their Story My Stories Your Stories Our Stories

Date: Friday 20 October, 1.00pm-2.15pm

Location: Online

Join the Centre for Trauma Asylum and Refugees (CTAR) and Refugee Care students within the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies for an online discussion on telling our stories within Black History Month. Hosted by Dr Zibiah Alfred Loakthar.

For Zoom links, please email z.loakthar@essex.ac.uk.  Find out more about our Centre for Trauma Asylum and Refugees (CTAR) on their webpage.

Cine 10 - The Little Mermaid

Date: Monday 23 October, 7pm-9pm

Location: Cine 10 (Student only event)

It's Black History Month, and we're celebrating Black Women! So what better way than to head to Cine10 for a FREE SCREENING of The NEW Little Mermaid!

Find out more on the Students' Union what's on page


The Black Researchers’ Hub Social

Date: Tuesday 24 October, 12pm-2pm

Location: Lakeside Theatre Studio, Colchester Campus.

Come and celebrate Black History Month and the launch of the Black Researchers’ Hub. Meet your fellow students and get to know more about the Hub and what is to come for this new academic year. Refreshments will be provided. 

Follow this Microsoft form link to register attendance.

Raymond Antrobus - Poetry Reading

Date: Tuesday 24 October, 6pm-7pm

Location: Art Exchange

We are excited to be joined by poet Raymond Antrobus who will read us his amazing poetry.

Raymond Antrobus is a British poet and writer who was born in Hackney, London, to a Jamaican father and a British mother. He is author of ‘Shapes and Disfigurements’ (2012), ‘To Sweeten Bitter’ (2017), ‘The Perseverance’ (2018) and ‘All the Names Given’ (2021).

Raymond Antrobus’ reading will be followed by a Drinks Reception.

Black History Month Quiz

Date: Tuesday 24 October, 7.30pm-9.00pm

Location: Top Bar

Join Us in Top Bar for this years Black History Month Quiz. Hosted by Your VP Welfare - Nifemi. 

Find out more on the Students' Union what's on page.

Centre for Public History Black History Month Seminar 2023

Date: Wednesday 25 October, 5pm

Location: Essex Business School EBS1.1 and via Zoom

Professor Amilcar A. Pereira (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro): 'The Brazilian Black Movement and Education Struggles: Between History and Contemporary Challenges'. 

Black History Month: Discussion Night

Date: Thursday 26 October, 6pm-8pm

Location: STEM 3.1

Join the Black Students Political Society and Essex End Everyday Racism Project in an open discussion. 

Find out more on the Students' Union what's on page.

Black History Month: Blind Date with a Book

Date: Monday 30 October, 1pm-2pm

Location: Albert Sloman Library, Ground Floor

Join the Library Services team for a pop-up Blind Date with a Book stall for Black History Month in the Albert Sloman Library! With a limited number of titles to give away, all suggested by students and staff at Essex, this is a free Blind Date with a Book pop-up stall, so arrive early! We’ll be packing the stall away when the books run out!


Events in Colchester and the surrounding areas

Essex Cultural Diversity Project

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

Black History Month 2023

Visit their webpage to find out more about events taking place in the county of Essex.


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).

Decolonising the Library

We have been actively working on the Decolonising the Library project for the last few years. Last year, we worked with two student champions to engage students with the subject of decolonising the Library. We created a short introductory video and started ‘deep-dive’ activities, where students research and select titles to diversify selected areas of the Library collections. For Black History Month we are showcasing some of the titles chosen by students with our Black History Month book display.

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 ‘Black Drama’ collection which includes 1,700 plays. 


  • A Fire in My HeadThis exhibition, held in the Art Exchange, bought together stories from the life of the University of Essex, as defined by its students.
  • A Fire in My Head Launch Party: A launch to celebrate the opening of  'A Fire in My Head'.
  • Black Students MixerThe Black Students Network held their first community mixer of the year with Jamane, Colchester’s Black Student Community Officer
  • Centre for Public History Black History Month Public LectureProfessor Lucy Bland (Anglia Ruskin University) gave a Black History Month public lecture on 'The War Babies of Black GIs and White British Women: racism, exclusion and the search; for belonging'.
  • Energy: Carnival Edition!  Students partied the night away to their favourite R&B, Dancehall and Grime songs.
  • Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC)Dr Jacqueline Sanchez-Taylor (Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London) gave a seminar: ‘'Is it because I am black? Reflecting on Race, Sex and Gender in Research'.
  • CINE10 - 42Set in 1940's America, 42 follows the story of the great Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball.
  • Open Mic Night: Held in the Lakeside Theatre for live performances such as comedians, singers and poets.
  • Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Forum Launch: The launch was held on Wednesday 26 October in the Lakeview Room.
  • Centre for Public History Black History Month: Chiara Candaele gave a Black History Month seminar on 'Resolution Metris: A governmental inquiry into forced separations of mixed-race minors in Belgian Africa (1885 1962)'.
  • Black History Month: Town Hall Event held on Wednesday 26 October in the Atrium. 
  • CINE10 - The Help:  Set in 1960's at the heart of the Civil rights movement in Mississippi, The Help is the story of aspiring Writer Skeeter (Emma Stone) and her book detailing the African American maids' point of view of the white families they work for, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.


  • Breaking the Silence Tour: 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.
  • Breathing the Light: The exhibition showcased 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.
  • Breathing the Light Launch Party: We raised a glass to the artists in the exhibition who utilised creativity as an act of resistance as they looked afresh at the world around us during these unprecedented times.
  • Lakeside Theatre-Audition workshops: BAFTA nominated and award-winning actress and playwright Yolanda Mercy does 6 weeks of audition workshops.
  • New Voices in Black British History: The Centre for Public History invited three of the most exciting new voices in Black British History to participate in a roundtable.
  • Breathing the Light-Curator's Tour: Curator Jess Twyman did a live online tour of Breathing the Light, expanding on the themes and ideas behind the artworks on show.
  • Navigating the challenges of Higher Education: the lived experiences of Black academics
  • Black Primed Market: A showcase of Black-owned businesses: Essex Students’ Union Present Black Primed, a showcase of Black-owned businesses coming to Colchester campus.
  • Black Primed: An exhibition that brings together Black artists working in Britain today.
  • Participatory theatre and production of cultures of equality with and by sex workers in Cape Town: An insightful seminar with Dr Phoebe Kisubi at the Centre for intimate and sexual citizenship.
  • Spotlight on: Ellis George: She spoke 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. 
  • A Black Renaissance (1924-1930): Reimagined Futures and Pasts: Dr Jak Peake examined the ways that a Black-led Renaissance in literature and the arts was conceived and its repercussion for conceptions of Black history.
  • Cine10 Presents: Moonlight: A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.
  • Breathing the Light – Artist's Talk with Joy Labinjo and Larry Achiampong: They both showed work in the exhibition Breathing the Light- they expanded on the inspiration behind their work.
  • Race, Gender and Policing: An insightful online seminar with Professor Aisha K. Gill PhD CBE at the Centre of Criminology.

Events in Colchester and the surrounding areas

  • Essex Cultural Diversity Project: ECDP is supporting Black History Month.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Public Opening Day: One Colchester Community Hub shopfront had art exhibits, presentations, talks, "Live" Music and displays for all of the community.
  • Mercury Theatre-Antigone: The modern retelling of the classic Greek tragedy is a powerful thriller whose poetic passion transcends time.
  • Firstsite Black History Month Community Day Celebration: Hosted Black History Month Colchester 2021 for a day of celebrations and entertainment.
  • Black Lives Matters – The Art of Protest: Placards and Pens: Curated by trustee, Sophie Kabangu, The Art of Protest brings together over a hundred of the placards created for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
  • Colchester Black History Month - The Festival of Navaratri: Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights and is celebrated every year in the autumn. 
  • Colchester Black History Month – ‘The Spoken Word’: An evening of music and entertainment in the new bar and restaurant at The Mercury, with Omar Aziz, Antony Woodley and Poet Lawrence Savage.
  • Colchester Black History Month @ One Colchester Community Hub Youth Activities – Learn to Draw: Learn to Draw is a fun tutorial for young people to try easy techniques to learn and to improve their creative talents. 
  • Colchester Black History Month - The Prevention of Suicide Amongst Black Men – “A Time to Talk”: Black History Colchester and African Families in a UK Zoom meeting that aims to bring together Black men for “A Time to Talk.” 
  • Colchester Black History Month - AFiUK Community Surgery @ One Colchester Community Hub: Hosted the African Families in the UK Staff and volunteers to provide a community advice surgery.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories art installation video tour: Tilbury Bridge Walkway is an iconic location which has an historic significance to the Black community in Britain. 
  • Colchester Black History Month – Domino Tournament: The first, Colchester Caribbean Elders “V” Southend Caribbean community group “Dominoes Tournament” for all of the community.
  • Black History Month Dovercourt and Harwich: Why do we celebrate Black History Month and the arrival of Empire Windrush to Tilbury, Essex with power points, slide shows and video.
  • Colchester Black History Month – The Ambassador book launch at Firstsite: The official launch of a new publication “The Ambassador” by Author Rachel Walton.
  • Colchester Black History Month @ One Colchester Community Hub Youth activities - ‘Stop and Search – Know Your Rights’: The understanding of your individual rights and the correct procedures that a police officer should comply to when executing Stop and Search. 
  • Colchester Black History Month – Celebrating Tubby Hayes screening: Celebrating the talents of the late, great Tubby Hayes, Firstsite screened ‘Tubby Hayes: A Man in a Hurry’.
  • Colchester Black History Month – Celebrating Tubby Hayes concert: Celebrating Tubby Hayes: The Simon Spillett Quartet at the Colchester Arts Centre.
  • Black History Month Clacton: Why do we celebrate Black History Month and the arrival of Empire Windrush to Tilbury, Essex with power points, slide shows and video.
  • The UK Black Business Show 2021: The show will highlighted the achievements and contributions Black businesses have made to the economy.



  • Spotlight on Natalya Martin, Sensory Theatre Practitioner: Discussion and Q&A with Natalya about navigating the creative arts industry and space as black artists.
  • Spotlight on Andrea Lungay, Co-founder and Director of HiddenViewz Productions: Discussion about navigating the theatre industry as a Director and Producer.
  • Essex South Asia Research Network (ESARN) Symposium: Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Lives: Indo-Caribbean, Black and British
  • After Essex: In Conversation with Whitney Joseph: Law graduate Whitney Joseph discusses her journey after Essex.
  • Decolonizing the History Curriculum: A Discussion between staff and students: How we can better represent diverse writers, scholars and perspectives in our History curriculum.
  • Spotlight on Rakaya Fetuga: Rakaya Fetuga is a poet from London of Ghanaian and Nigerian heritage. Her work joins conversations on overlapping identities, faith and culture as self-affirmation.
  • Being Black at Essex: Essex students and alumni discuss their experiences of being Black at Essex.
  • 10 v 10: Afro-Caribbean Music Clash
  • Department of Sociology - Claudia Jones: A Woman of Our Times: A film about the Trinidadian activist who started the Notting Hill Carnival.
  • Law Matters: Black Lives Matter: An opportunity to engage with the critical issues of the day in the field of law.
  • Artists Talk by Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: Film screening of ‘A Lament for Power’, followed by a conversation with film critic Ashley Clark. Together they discuss relationship between race and the structures of power that underpin our society.
  • Department of History Research Seminar – Theatre, Teaching, and the Slave Trade: Dr Jeremy Krikler explores the problems and opportunities of using a research-driven play in teaching the slave trade.
  • From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century: William Darity Jr and A. Kirsten Mullen speak about their book and their work on reparation for Black Americans.
  • Spotlight on Ahmad Iklhas: A discussion about navigating the creative arts industry and space as black artists.
  • Fresh Takes @EssexGov: Black Lives Matter: SU Black Community Officer and Law student Andrea Curtis interviews Dr Andrea Benjamin, scholar of race, politics and public opinion.
  • Words with: Lela Burbridge: Lela shares the lessons learned in her book ‘Lela: Ashes of Childhood’ which journeys through her formative years in Uganda as a child before moving to the United Kingdom as a teenager.
  • Gaming Night with Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: Artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy host a special gaming night session in which they battle it out on the popular Nintendo game Splatoon 2.
  • Finding out about Frantz Fanon: Colin Samson and Jak Peake discuss the politically radical writing of Frantz Fanon.
  • Professor Tommy Curry, University of Edinburgh: ‘Decolonizing the Intersection: Black Male Studies as a Critique of Intersectionality's Indebtedness to Subculture of Violence Theory’: Philosophy and Art History Research Seminar.
  • A Lament for Power: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: This film explores the ethics of scientific discovery and the complex relationship between science, politics and race in our age of avatars, video gaming and DNA Ancestry testing.
  • Finding Fanon: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy's seminal Finding Fanon trilogy, inspired by the lost plays of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), a politically radical writer whose work explores the trauma of colonialism and decolonisation.
  • Human Rights Speaker Series: Black Lives Matter and Human Rights: Sophie Kabangu and Dr Kojo Koram explore current and emerging issues and challenges surrounding Black Lives Matter and Human Rights.

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.