Black History Month

October 2023

Programme of events

Oxford Brookes University is proud to celebrate Black History Month in October 2023. The theme for this year’s programme is "Celebrating our Sisters". We would like as many of you as possible to join in and enjoy these events that will offer an opportunity to socialise, learn and explore the racialised contexts and experience of wellness in education and wider society.

Introduction from Vice-Chancellor Professor Alistair Fitt

At Oxford Brookes, we are proud to celebrate Black History Month in October 2023. This year the theme is Celebrating our Sisters, recognising the experiences, talent and leadership of pioneering Black women.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Team, in collaboration with colleagues across the University, has brought together a rich and diverse programme of talks and events, including activities focusing on resilience, self-care and well-being.

Our keynote speech on 18 October is hosted by Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush, who will invite us to explore how race and racism interacts with some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities of higher education. As Co-Chair of the Justice Strategy Board at Goldsmith’s, University of London, and a member of the Strategic Advisory Board of Samaritans, Natalia-Nana will set the tone for our month of activities, focusing on how everyone has a part to play in addressing issues of equality, anti-racism and inclusion.

On 18 October, the Oxford Brookes BAME Staff Network will also be hosting a panel discussion on the theme of Celebrating our Brookes Sisters. This will be a great opportunity to hear from some of our female colleagues as they reflect on their individual career journeys and share their learning. The panel, which will also include the Brookes Union Vice-President for Wellbeing, will jointly explore resilience and self-care amongst other topics. Do find time to join them to listen to some inspirational journeys and celebrate the talent and wonderful achievements of colleagues from the Oxford Brookes community.

Resilience and wellbeing workshops, for both staff and students, are also running through the month, providing a space to come together, learn and also socialise.

At Oxford Brookes, inclusivity is one of our five guiding principles. Alongside working to achieve equal access to higher education from all parts of our community, including students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, we want to ensure that participation is equal for all. The award-winning project, Decolonising the Curriculum, is a shining example of how this can be done. Developed by the Social Work Team at Brookes, it created a new model that supports achievement for students from diverse backgrounds.

Barriers to equal access continue to exist and much work still needs to take place. With such a varied range of events and activities taking place, I very much hope that as many of you as possible will get involved and enjoy what’s on offer.

Vice-Chancellor Alistair Fitt

Programme of events

Our programme of events for Black History Month 2023 seeks to celebrate our Black Sisters whilst also promoting different aspects of wellbeing, self care and resilience as the sub theme for Black History Month.

Our keynote lecture this year will be presented by Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush on Wednesday 18 October on the Headington Campus. The session will consist of a lecture followed by a Q&A. We encourage attendees to submit questions in advance at the point of booking your spot.

Keynote speaker: Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush

Why Race Equity is a Higher Education Emergency

Video of Keynote speaker, Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush, Wednesday 18 October 2023, 6.00pm - 7.00pm

Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush

Oxford Brookes BAME Staff Network event

To mark this year’s Black History Month, the Oxford Brookes BAME staff network will be hosting a panel in which some of our female colleagues will reflect on their individual career journeys and share their learnings. The panel, which will include academics, researchers and members of the professional services who will jointly explore struggles, triumphs, resilience, self-care and most especially how they made a difference in the community they are part of. 

Do join us on Wednesday 18 October 2023, to listen to some inspirational journeys and let us celebrate the talent and wonderful achievements of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women from our Brookes community.

  • Networking and refreshments: 3.30pm
  • Event time: 4.00pm - 5.00pm

Poetry competition

The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is holding a poetry competition as part of this year's celebrations. This year's events will be dedicated to honouring the achievements of black women who are often the forgotten heroines. We want to amplify their voices and challenge the systems that oppress them.

The competition is free to enter and open to anyone at Oxford Brookes University and all Oxfordshire residents. It has two categories: under 16 and over 16. The closing date is Sunday 15 October 2023 and there are more details about how to enter on the link below. 

We are excited to say that our judge for the competition is the award-winning poet, Isabelle Baafi.

Black History Month Poetry Competition 2023

Oxford City Council community engagement event

13 October 2023, 10.00am - 3.00pm, Rose Hill Community Centre

On 13 October 2023 Oxford City Council are hosting a town hall style community engagement event at the Rose Hill Community Centre. This event is part of the City Council’s celebrations for Black History Month and it brings together a host of local stakeholders for a day of learning, dialogue and celebration.  

Drop into this event, we look forward to seeing you there.

Oxford African Caribbean Histories and Community Archive

This exhibition showcases the presence and experience of the African Caribbean community in Oxfordshire and celebrates the pioneers of the Windrush generation. 

As part of an ongoing community-led initiative, it brings together photographs, video recordings and stories that contribute to a better understanding of Black History in Oxfordshire. 

Join us for a discussion evening on Tuesday 24 October 2023 from 5.00pm - 7.00pm, with a talk by Dr Nigel Carter (Oxford Community Action). There will be refreshments and an opportunity to network. For more information please contact:

  • Thursday 5 October to Saturday 28 October 2023, opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7.00am - 9.00pm, Foyer, Richard Hamilton Building, Headington. 
  • Campus discussion evening on Tuesday 24 October 2023, 5.00pm - 7.00pm with refreshments.

Staff development courses

A portfolio of skills booster and taught development courses for staff that address the sub themes for Black History Month 2023 which are self care, resilience and wellbeing. 

Skills Booster Training Courses - available on demand:

Staff development course

Spotify playlists celebrating Black History Month

As part of celebrating our Black Sisters for this year's celebrations, we invite you to make submissions to our Black HIstory Month University playlist. This is an opportunity for you to share and discover inspirational artists that will provide you with a soundtrack to help you be inspired, work and relax. The link to the playlist will be posted here once submissions start rolling in.

We welcome contributions from Oxford Brookes students and staff.

Alumni profiles

During the month of October, we are excited to share with you a number of alumni profiles showcasing inspirational Black Sisters as well as an additional Governor profile. Check back here through the month as we add content and share some great journeys.

Learning Resources reading list

To mark Black History Month, the Brookes library has created a Celebrating Our Sisters reading list. Please join us to celebrate Black female writers by reading one of the books on the reading list. You can also help us expand this list by emailing with any suggestions.

For Black History Month 2023, explore the library's Anti-racism reading list for a collection of fiction, poetry, non-fiction books, and online resources relating to racism and anti-racism. This list started with suggestions from Sola Adesola with contributions from Jane Butcher and library staff. Help us expand this list by emailing with any suggestions.

If you want to learn more about Black history in Britain, browse the History of black, asian, and other ethnic minorities in Britain reading list. You can find all of these books and ebooks at the Oxford Brookes libraries. If you have any suggestions for this list please contact us at the address above.