Black History Month celebrations have been taking place in the UK since 1987. A Ghanaian named Akyaaba Addai-Sebo is credited with getting it started in the UK. Back then, Akyaaba worked as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council. The Council selected October because the month coincided with the Marcus Garvey celebrations and London Jubilee.
BHM Events in the UK
Contemporary African Art Fair (Westminster) October 6th – October 9th: 1:54 will spotlight the work of over 110 African and African Diasporan artists. The 2016 edition of the fair will feature 40 galleries from 18 countries.
The Dandy Lion Project (Brighton) Through October 30th: The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind, The Dandy Lion Project highlights young men and women in cityscapes, defying stereotypical and monolithic understandings of Black male identity. The exhibition presents more than 150 images from over thirty photographers and filmmakers. For a list of screenings, panel discussions and more, see our recent interview with the exhibitions curator, Shantrelle P. Lewis.
Africa on the Square (Greater London) October 15th: This popular event returns to Trafalgar Square to celebrate African arts and culture. Expect a fantastic line-up of entertainment including live music, DJs, dancing and a talent show.
Dakar 66: Fifty Years On (Liverpool) October 14th: In April 1966, legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington traveled to Dakar, Senegal, with his orchestra to play at the first “World Festival of Negro Arts.” This screening tells the story of the event using photographs, rarely seen documentary films and newly filmed interviews with participants.
Twilight Talk: The Birth of Cool (Bath) October 13th: Professor Carol Tulloch will showcase and share stories and images of black fashion and style in Britain, drawing on the research for her recent book ‘The Birth of Cool’. “This obsession with dressing well is almost part of the DNA in the black community”, noted Tulloch in a recent interview and this talk at the Fashion Museum will explore those thoughts further. Includes wine reception.
Motown the Musical (London) Through October 28th: It follows the legendary career of Berry Gordy and the creation of his musical empire, Motown Records. The story begins in 1983, on the evening of the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown, and Berry Gordy is looking back on his career.
Black Words Matter (Brixton) October 28th: Black History Month couldn’t be complete in 2016 without reference to the Black Lives Matter movement happening in both the US and the UK. Brixton Library is therefore throwing the microphone open to a poetic response to examining what’s going on. Poets and performers are coming together to speak through spoken word. Father Comes Home From The Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3) (London) Through October 22nd: This trilogy of short plays premiered at the Public Theater in New York. They are the first three of nine short plays that will follow one African-American family through generations up to the present day. Parts 1, 2 & 3 are performed together in one evening.
Benji Reid: A Thousand Words (Manchester) Through December 17th: In a series of sumptuous and tantalising portraits Benji Reid captures both the vulnerability and strength of his subjects. Built around a spectacular re-staging of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’, A Thousand Words is provocative and playful and sure to capture your attention.
The Young Nigerians (Camden) October 22nd: Inua Ellams brings together eight of the most vibrant, versatile and exciting Nigerian poets living and working in England as part of the Roundhouse’s celebration of Black History Month.
Liverpool Black Community Trail at the International Slavery Museum (Liverpool) Through October 30th: The Liverpool Black community is the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1750. The Museum of Liverpool has a free trail exploring Liverpool’s Black community.
The Price of Memory (Leicester) October 5th: When Queen Elizabeth II visits Jamaica for her Golden Jubilee Celebrations in 2002, she is petitioned by a small group of Rastafari for slavery reparations. The Price of Memory follows the reparations lawsuit, the legacies of slavery and the Rastafari’s quest to return to the homeland of their African ancestors.
The Knife of Dawn (Camden) October 6th: A chamber opera in one act set in Martin Carter’s prison cell towards the end of a month-long hunger strike in 1953. Martin, a Guyanese poet and political activist, was incarcerated without charge whilst fighting for independence for his country, called British Guiana at the time.
Julian Joseph in Concert (Camden) October 9th: For the London Piano Festival’s closing concert, Julian will create a unique mixture of pieces to include a selection of his own compositions. Julian has performed extensively for over two decades, firmly establishing himself as a towering figure in the contemporary jazz world.
South Africa: The Art of a Nation (Camden) October 27th – February 27th: In this exhibition a diverse range of art from across the ages tells a story that stretches back 100,000 years. From rock art made by the country’s earliest peoples to works by South African artists at the forefront of contemporary art, the exhibition features beautiful and important objects, which illustrate South Africa’s rich history.
A Tale of Two Cities @ Goldsmiths Black History Month (London) October 18th: A celebration of Black British music through the ages from the original dub sounds of Mad Professor, to the prophetic poetry of Zena Edwards and the nostalgic short documentaries of Caleb Femi.
“Love Jones” screening + After Party, “Just Got Paid” (London) October 14th: This event will screen the film, “Love Jones”. Two urban African-Americans, Darius (Larenz Tate), an aspiring writer, and Nina (Nia Long), an aspiring photographer, share an instant connection after a chance meeting at a Chicago club. After party(separate event) to begin right after.
‘Obama: Job Well Done?’ A BBC (BBAF) Black History Month special (London) October 21st: In 2008 Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States of America. Black people believed in Barack Obama. Black people loved Barack Obama. Black people delivered for Barack Obama. But did President Barack Obama deliver enough to demonstrate that he loved them back? This one-off special Black History Month debate will seek to explore this.