Black History Month 2020

During Black History Month, Kingston University students, staff and alumni will be marking the enormous contributions the Black community has made to Britain. We will also be celebrating the exceptional achievements and inspiring stories of the nation's African and Caribbean communities, taking time to consider where we are now as a society and our aspirations for the future.

Black history should not only be reflected on just one month each year, nor is it only about the past. It is important we continue to learn, face up to challenging questions and ensure we do everything we can to tackle racism and inequality. These themes will be explored through a series of events being held by the University and the Union of Kingston Students throughout October.

Contact us to get involved and share your contributions about Black History Month at Kingston University.

A message from the Vice-Chancellor

Black History Month is a time for us to recognise the importance of Black history in the United Kingdom, a history that is too often inaccessible, undervalued and overlooked. It is also an opportunity to continue important discussions about race and the lived experiences of Black people in society today – to listen, unlearn and relearn.

Black History Month gives an added impetus to engage in conversations, share knowledge and experiences and learn from each other at a particularly important time, as our new academic year gets under way.

Read the full statement

Professor Steven Spier, Vice-Chancellor

Kingston University and Union of Kingston Students events

John Azah OBE on Kingston's Black history

Chief Executive of Kingston Race and Equalities Council (KREC) John Azah OBE, who received an honorary degree from Kingston University last summer, talks about Kingston's Black history, focusing on three individuals who have shaped the Royal Borough.

Starting with the 18th century coal merchant Cesar Picton, Mr Azah goes on to outline the contributions of healthcare pioneer Dr Neslyn Watson-Druée CBE at the start of the 21st Century and continues through to the present day with Ian Thomas CBE, the first Black Chief Executive of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.

Black History Month is a celebration of my ancestors' wildest dreams. It is a time to celebrate the beautiful, rich vibrancy of the black diaspora – revisiting how far we've come and how much still needs to be done to overcome barriers in society.

Roniqua Gerald, Marketing Coordinator

Black History Month for me is a time to step back and remember the paragons and trailblazers that did all they did, so I can now do what I do. For me, it is a time for reflection, celebration and inspiration.

Reggie Nelson, Economics BSc(Hons) graduate

How Black History Month has inspired research into the stories of Black figures from Kingston and Surrey's past

''Although Black people have lived in this country since Roman times, members of Britain's Black community were first recorded officially in the Tudor period – and one talented Black musician was a regular presence just down the road at Hampton Court Palace, during the reign of King Henry VIII.

''Paintings from the time show that John Blanke was a Black trumpeter, one of the six elite trumpeters in the Royal retinue to the King (the other five were white). This is just one of the fascinating pieces of new local research that has emerged in recent years as a result of exciting initiatives taken by scholars who have been inspired by Black History Month.''

Dr Steven Woodbridge, Senior lecturer in history, Kingston University

How Black History Month has inspired research into the stories of Black figures from Kingston and Surrey's past


Reading list

Students and staff can find a wider list of resources and suggested readings by logging into the iCat online library with their Kingston University username and password.

Memento from Berlin Olympics documents important moment in Black history

''In 2004 the University's archive received the extensive library and archive of Vane Ivanovic – shipping merchant, diplomat and Olympic athlete. Within his collection was a photograph of Wartburg Castle in Germany. The archive team were amazed to see that hidden beneath decades of dust and discolouration were more than 100 original signatures of athletes, dignitaries and journalists from the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

"Much like his performance at the Games, the most prominent and recognisable signature was that of Jesse Owens, the Black American athlete whose four gold medal victories defied, if not dispelled, Hitler's dangerous notion of white Aryan supremacy."

Dayna Miller, Archivist, Kingston University

Memento from Berlin Olympics documents important moment in Black history
Kingston University careers team launches ELEVATE programme to support Black students

Kingston University careers team launches ELEVATE programme to support Black students

"This year, one particular phenomenon has shaken our understanding of what it means to be human, to be diverse, and for all to have access to equal opportunity – Black Lives Matter.

"Earlier this summer, we met as a careers and employability team to discuss the barriers facing Black students when entering the job market, and what more we could do to help make a difference here at Kingston University."

Hawa Mansaray and Zion Sengulay, Careers and employability advisers, Kingston University

Contact us and get involved with Black History Month

As part of the University's Black History Month celebrations, we are looking to share a range of contributions from students, staff and alumni across our website and social media platforms throughout the month.

For one of our pieces of content, we would like to highlight some of the inspirational Black figures and role models that have had an impact on members of our University community.

We are also looking for other contributions themed around the month – these could be proposed blog posts or creative content inspired by Black History Month, including art, poetry, music or anything else you would like to share.

Get in touch with us to share your contributions or find out more about Black History Month at Kingston University.