siBlack History Month, which celebrates the achievements of Black Britons, has been celebrated in the UK every October since 1987. It is an opportunity to reflect on British history, from the pain of slavery and colonization to the resilience and hope of the Windrush generation , while showcasing the work of today’s black British creatives. Here are some events happening around the country this month.
The hip-hop of Boy Blue, Manchester
Blak Whyte Gray is the latest project by Olivier Award-winning Boy Blue, a hip-hop dance company founded in 2001 by choreographer Kenrick Sandy and music producer Michael Asante. Their expressive theatrical performances showcase hip-hop from the streets and clubs and explore themes of identity and oppression, with energetic dance performances.
Black White Grey, Home Theatre, Manchester, 20-22 October, from £11.70
Sculpture Trail, Bristol
Bristolians have largely disowned the city’s ties to the slave trade. This is reflected in The World Reimagined trail of 10 globe sculptures across the city, dealing with themes of displacement, identity and racial justice. The trail starts at the Royal Fort Gardens and ends at Broadmead.
theworldreimagined.org, until October 31, free
Changing Attitudes Towards Africans, Southampton
Ebun Sodipo, a multidisciplinary artist based in London, explores how attitudes towards Africans and their descendants have changed throughout history. Her solo show, For My Only Love, Yours in Body and Soul, is an imaginative visual and audio love story in which she imagines alternative ways of speaking about the body, including the black trans-feminine self, post-slavery and colonialism.
Tower of God, October 7-November 6, Free
Black Ballet, Durham
Ballet Black celebrates 20 years with two new works at Durham’s Gala Theater and Cinema. In 2001, Cassa Pancho founded the ballet company to give a platform to dancers of black and Asian descent. Say It Loud, choreographed by Pancho, depicts Ballet Black’s journey to becoming an industry name. Black Sun, choreographed by Gregory Maqoma, explores the power of the moon and the sun.
Gala Theater and Cinema, October 28from £18
Flowerbed installation, North London
Gladstone Park at Dollis Hill will unveil a garden with three flowerbeds, shaped like the Akan symbols for a double drum, a ship and an anchor, alluding to themes of migration and Black belonging. The northwest London park is named after William Gladstone, whose family owned plantations in the Caribbean during the transatlantic slave trade. The installation, designed by Harun Morrison and Antonia Couling, reflects on how representation takes place in contested public spaces and will be unveiled on October 14, near the former site of Dollis Hill House. From 12 noon to 1:30 pm there will be an introduction to the drum workshop and demonstration by Akwaaba Drums, refreshments and Q&A with the artist.
Coffee stableseh, Gladstone Park, London NW2, Free
Youssou N’Dour, Edinburgh
Youssou N’Dour is the Senegalese singer, songwriter, musician and activist known for launching West African balax into the mainstream. His music combines traditional West African drumming with contemporary pop and is linked to Senegal’s post-colonial identity. In 1985, he organized a concert for the release of Nelson Mandela and also played on Amnesty International’s Human Rights Now world tour in 1988. N’Dour will perform at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre.
EICC, 15 October, tickets from £65.27. N’Dour is too at London’s Barbican on November 3
Various events, Leicester
It’s hard to pick just one event in Leicester, with Serendipity, the Black Arts and Heritage Institute, curating a rich, monthly program of leading artists and activists from the African and Caribbean diaspora, with film, theatre, dance, lectures. and exhibitions. Highlights include a performance by Mercury Prize nominee Soweto Kinch on 12 October at Leicester Jazz House (tickets from £5) and Black is the Color of My Voice, a project inspired by and featuring the music of Nina Simone, on 17 and 18 October at the Curve Theater (tickets from £10).
Bernardine Evaristo, Warwick Arts Centre
In October 2019, Bernardine Evaristo became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, which is told primarily from the perspective of 12 black Britons. It took decades for Evaristo to gain recognition, and in this exclusive live event audiences will hear a first-hand account from the author of how she did it, refusing to let any obstacles stand in her way.
warwickartscentre.co.uk, October 9tickets from £16
The Leeds Black History Walk
Discover lesser-known stories about the African presence in Leeds, through to Roman Yorkshire, on this public guided walking tour. You’ll hear stories about the Leeds mummy, the Queen of Samba and artist and dance teacher David Hamilton MBE.
The tour starts at 11 a.m in the Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane in the University of Leeds campus, October 22, £7
British Art Show 9, Plymouth
Through film, photography, multimedia, painting, sculpture and performance, this exhibition delves into Plymouth’s role in Britain’s colonial history, focusing on how Indigenous cultures and practices were exploited and marginalised, and how this history continues to shape modern society. It features 37 artists, presenting their work across four venues: Karst, The Box, Levinsky Gallery at University of Plymouth and Mirror at Arts University Plymouth.
britishartshow9.co.uk, 8 October– December 23rdFree
For full event listings over the next month, visit blackhistorymonth.org.uk