Black History Month 2015: From London to Liverpool, here are 12 enlightening events

By Ben Miller | 03 October 2015 | Updated: 02 October 2015

Black History Month returns across the country this October. From Bristol to Glasgow, here are 12 highlights

A photo of three youths wearing colourful street style as part of a film being screened at Black History Month 2015
© Courtesy CNN Films Mass Appeal
Get Up Stand Up, Galleries of Justice, Nottingham, October 4-20

The old gaol witnesses a new, digitally-mastered tour for the month, using audio and visuals on a history of civil rights movements across the world. Made specially for the festival, its themes are migration, oppression and protection.

Hidden Heroes: Soldiers from the Empire, Bruce Castle Museum, London, from October 7

The stories of nine ethnic minority soldiers - fighters for the Middlesex Regiment during the First World War, despite suffering poor treatment and discrimination from some of their peers and the public - might have been lost without this Heritage Lottery-funded project, gathering rare photos and sound clips from their families. They include Kamal Crunchie, who travelled to London to join the regiments after a spell in the trenches, and Trinidadian Calypso singer Sam Manning, who entertained the troops before serving as a soldier. Until March 27 2016.

Africa on the Square 2015, Trafalgar Square, London, October 10

Last year’s inaugural edition of this party drew 20,000 people. An African market, street food stalls, live music, dancing, fashion shows and family activities suggest an even greater success this time out.

Rise and Role of the Colour Bar in British Boxing, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, October 10

Liverpool’s own Gary Shaw tells the story of how, under terms enforced by a small aristocratic group, non-white boxers were banned from becoming British champions between 1909 and 1947. From art workshops to African drumming, this is one of several events organised by National Museums Liverpool across the month – visit their Black History Month listings.

The Power of Words, CCA Glasgow, October 13

The Scottish Writers' Centre provides a special read-along of Dr Martin Luther King's immortal I Have a Dream speech, followed by an open mic session. The hosts are Zimbabwe-born novelist Tendai Huchu and traditional African story teller Chief Amu, whose tales are augmented by his music, songs and art.

Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions, Tate Liverpool, until October 18

Barack Obama’s favourite artist has chosen a leading post-war line-up in his brash-yet-thoughtful exhibition, on tour from Nottingham Contemporary and featuring one piece imagining Malcolm X with white skin. The artists include Jackson Pollock, whose Blind Spot exhibition is running concurrently at the gallery.

The History of Fresh Weekender, various venues, Hackney, October 24-25

Fashion, as organisers We are Parable point out, has always told a story: in this case, graffiti denim jackets, oversized trousers and shelltoe sneakers went from 1980s street style to fashion catwalk staples. Damon Dash, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West are among the trendsetters discussing self-expression and music during a double screening in the company of experts at Dalston’s Rio Cinema (tickets here), followed by a fashion showcase at Fields Brewery.

Eddie Noble: A Charmed Life film screening and Q&A, Imperial War Museum, London, October 25

Director Patrick Vernon’s 2009 documentary follows the life of the Jamaican-born Londoner Martin, offering a singular perspective on the colonisation of the Caribbean, racism in the Second World War RAF and racial inequality in post-war Britain. Vernon will introduce the film and answer questions afterwards. Arrive early to avoid any disappointment. A series of events are taking place at the IWM during the month – visit their full listings.

Resist and Revolt: Black History – Live Transmission, BEEF, Bristol, October 31

Transmitting as a live podcast, artist Libita Clayton opens her studios for an alternative and playful discussion around the narrative of the festival, exploring architectural ghosts, the city’s carnival and the shared human themes of black history.

Bristol Black History Month, various venues

It isn’t that long since members of Bristol’s black and ethnic communities were banned from driving buses in the city by one company, with the bar only reversed thanks to action sparked by West Indian campaigners in 1963. More than 40 years later, a celebratory programme of events take place at the homes of the Black South West Network, the University of the West of England and in museums and galleries including M Shed and Watershed. Visit the full listings.

A Closer Look Tour, IWM North, Manchester

These tours, taking place daily throughout the month, include the story of Lilian Badar, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Force who overcame prejudice around her British-Barbadian heritage to become an Acting Corporal during World War Two. Hers is one of several stories of black and commonwealth personnel during the past century.

No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990, Guildhall Art Gallery, London

2015 is the tenth anniversary of the Huntley Archives taking residence at the London Metropolitan Archives, detailing the revolutionary productivity of Eric and Jessica Huntley and the Bogle L’Ouverture Press, founded by the pair in 1968. A recreation of the publishing house, which united a legion of artists, thinkers and other great minds, is at the centre of this salutary exhibition, soundtracked by specialists Dubmorphology and immersing fans in art, sculpture, paintings, letters and more. Continues until January 24 2016.

Did you know? Black History Month

  • More than 175,000 Black troops served in the Union army and navy during the American Civil War.

  • During a promotional tour of England in 1944, the boxing legend Joe Louis signed for Liverpool FC.

  • The activist Michael de Freitas changed his name to Michael X after meeting Malcolm X on his visit to England in 1965.

  • John Richard Archer, who became London’s first Black mayor when he was elected in Battersea in 1913, was born in Liverpool.

  • Lord Learie Constantine, the cricket legend who was Britain’s first Black peer, played for Nelson Cricket Club in Lancashire.
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