Black History Month 2021

News | Posted on Tuesday 5 October 2021

We'll be celebrating Black History Month 2021 throughout October.

Members of the staff and student community who have contributed to the 'Proud to Be' campaign for Black History Month 2021. Text on the image reads 'Celebrating Diversity'.
Members of our staff and student community who have contributed to our 'Proud to be' campaign.

Black History Month in the UK is in its 34th year and is celebrated and recognised across the country in schools, city centres, cinema, festivals and more.

The theme for 2021 is Proud to be, and here at the University we will be hosting a variety of online events to celebrate this theme and foster an understanding of Black History in general, inviting people of all ages to share how they are proud to be

In addition to the celebratory aspects, the month presents an engaging space of reflection on the achievements and innovative contributions to the social, political and cultural development of the United Kingdom. In line with the University's commitment to anti-racism, we invite everyone to learn with us the diverse stories, aspirations and activism that tackle racial inequality. We'd also like to raise awareness of some of our anti-racist initiatives, including our Black Access scholarship scheme and our status as a University of Sanctuary.

There is also an opportunity for members of our community to learn more about some of the issues impacting society and people of colour in contemporary society on an international level.

What's on?

Navigating the corporate world from a Black female’s perspective

Thursday 14 October, 12 noon to 1pm, via Zoom webinar

Haddy Davies, Technical Process Lead and Titania Category Manager for Johnson Matthey, will share her career journey and key lessons.

External participants, please sign up via Doodle poll (please register with University or company email if possible).

Any questions please contact

A Black History Month Speakeasy

Thursday 14 October, 7pm to 11pm, Cosy Club

This evening of music and art in honour of Black History Month is brought you by the College BAME reps. It will feature blues musician Tom Attah, Vanbrugh House Band, a talk on Black History Month and performances from spoken word artists and performers.

Find full details and book your ticket.

Racing climate change

Wednesday 20 October 2021, 2pm to 3pm, online

Dr Ariadne Collins discusses how de-centring whiteness from its position as an automatic, oppositional counterpart to blackness can make space for greater recognition of the role played by the environment in processes of racialisation.

Find out more and register to join this event.

In celebration of Black History Month: the work of Michaela Coel and Steve McQueen

Tuesday 26 October, 6.15pm to 8.15pm, The Holbeck Cinema (TFTV/116), TFTI building

The Department of Theatre, Film, TV and Interactive Media present an evening of screenings, introduced by Duncan Petrie, to mark Black History Month.

The year 2020 marked a watershed in the politics of race in the USA, the UK and around the world. The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ethnic minority communities, the Black Lives matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, demonstrations against the legacy of slavery in Bristol and other cities. This was also the year that heralded groundbreaking new television works by two major black British talents, Michaela Coel and Steve McQueen.

At this event, we will screen the first two episodes of Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You* – 'Eyes, Eyes, Eyes, Eyes' and 'Someone is Lying' - and Steve McQueen's Lover's Rock.

*Content warning: I May Destroy You depicts sexual assault and its traumatic impact. 

Enquiries: Please email (there is no requirement to reserve tickets).

The New Age of Empire

Tuesday 26 October, 6.30pm, online

Professor Kehinde Andrews talks about his recent book The New Age of Empire which takes us back to the beginning of the European Empires, outlining the deliberate terror and suffering wrought during every stage of the expansion, and destroys the self-congratulatory myth that the West was founded on the three great revolutions of science, industry and politics.

Read more about this event and register to attend.

Backbone: Single Black Motherhood Reappraised

Wednesday 27 October, 4.30pm to 5.30pm

Despite increasingly rapid social change, stigma around single parenting persists. Black single motherhood continues to be harshly judged due to negative racialised tropes. As part of Black History Month, this myth-busting talk explores black women’s complicated experiences of single motherhood. It highlights the societal difficulties encountered by households but also uncovers and celebrates various modes of resistance.

Find out more and register for your free ticket.

Race, eugenics and politics in modern British history

Wednesday 27 October, 5.30pm to 6.30pm, online

In this Black History Month lecture, Robbie Shilliam, historian, political theorist, and Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, joins us in discussion with Sam Wetherell to talk about black British history, the rise and fall of the welfare state and Britain's present political crisis.

Read more and book tickets for this lecture.

Health research in Africa: listening, learning and building truly equitable partnerships

Thursday 28 October, 1:30pm – 3pm, online

How can we better integrate Black history and lived experiences into research activity and partnerships? What do we mean by "silencing knowledge" in international research? What can we learn about the importance of recognising different contexts? How would our research benefit from a better understanding of our collaborators' contexts?

This event, featuring researchers and professional support staff from York, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda, will critically appraise how we can change our practices in order to build fair, respectful and mutually beneficial partnerships with academic communities across Africa.

Student Expert Panel: Middle Ground - normalising conversations about race

Wednesday 10 November, 5.30pm, Bowland Auditorium

The University's Student Expert Panel invites you to attend their first 'Middle Ground' event, focusing on:

  • the issues faced by Black students
  • normalising difficult conversations
  • encouraging individuals to understand and recognise different perspectives

The event is open to all University of York staff and students, and refreshments will be provided. Find out more and register to attend.

'Proud to be' community profiles

We are proud to showcase our series of 'Proud to be' profiles from BAME members of our staff and student community, highlighting what Black History Month means to them, and their thoughts on anti-racism and activism in general. We'll be sharing these throughout the month on our social media:

Watch again

We have a series of recordings from previous Black History Month, and other related awareness day events, that are available for you to watch again:

Other related events

Diversity in the screen industry – Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN) + Guild of Media Arts

Friday 22 October, 5pm to 8pm

The Screen Industries Growth Network (XR Stories and SIGN) have produced a series of short documentary films presenting lived experiences of a diverse group of people working in the screen industries. Produced for us by Candour, the films are raw, honest and vivid portrayals of the work that still needs to be done to widen participation and representation across all sectors of the industry.

Discover why the lack of diversity in the screen industries impacts not only those working in the sector but those watching too.

This screening of Industry Voices is accompanied by a pre-recorded discussion of the issues raised in the film, featuring Dr Beth Johnson and Marcus Ryder MBE.

Book tickets for the Industry Voices screening event.

If you're not able to join us for the screening, you can still watch the videos in your own time.

Other Black History Month events

Black talent virtual insight event with Grant Thornton

Tuesday 26 October, 2.30pm-3.30pm, online

Grant Thornton are a global firm offering business accounting services. They aim to build a workforce that is representative of their clients and communities, and to give under-represented groups access to coaching, careers advice and mentors they are hosting a virtual insight event for black students via Zoom.

The event will provide students with:

  • A chance to meet some of Grant Thornton's senior black leaders
  • An opportunity to ask questions and debate topics that are important to you 
  • Guidance on applying for apprenticeship, undergraduate or graduate programmes, with hints and tips to help you succeed in the job market

Groups and networks

University-based groups and networks

Local groups

National groups

Race Equality Co-ordination Group 

As an institution, we acknowledge the significance of not losing sight of the important work around anti-racism, which is why we have established the Race Equality Co-ordination Group (RECG). As part of this, we have agreed an anti-racism statement and set ourselves ambitious and impactful targets. 

Our anti-racism statement

The purpose of the group is to oversee activities, to challenge and to redress systemic inequalities and disadvantages. RECG's priorities are under the following three headings: 

  • Establishing a culture and environment where we can talk about the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of race and inequality.
  • Addressing the ethnicity pay gap and BAME staff under-representation.
  • Diversifying and decolonising the curriculum.

The University's Executive Board has endorsed these priorities and has committed to supporting the progress of these across our learning, teaching, working, social and living environments.


Our Let's talk about race and racism web page directs you to information and resources to help all members of our community better understand what it is like to experience racism, how to support those who experience racism and what the University is doing to progress its anti-racism work.

Other resources

Algorithmic Justice League
Technology should serve all of us, not just the privileged few. Join the Algorithmic Justice League in the movement tackling racial bias in AI, moving towards equitable and accountable AI.

Union Black: Britain's Black cultures and steps to anti-racism - Santander Universities online module

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680