In the UK, October is a time to celebrate, share and learn about Black heritage, culture and achievements. This year’s Black History Month theme is ‘Proud To Be’.

At the University of York we are proud to have a community that is diverse and inclusive, with student representation from over 100 countries, and we are committed to increasing the diversity of our University of York community.

Follow us on Instagram at @uniofyork_outreach to help us celebrate and continue learning! 

What Black History Month means to the University of York

Last year, we explored what Black History Month means to the University of York. Find out what Black History Month means to current undergraduate students at the University and get involved by sharing your own opinion. 

The video below is from some of our current students as well as some of our wonderful alumni, explaining what Black History Month means to them.

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Access and Outreach
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What Black History Month means to you

We would love to hear what Black History Month means to you and what you are Proud to Be. Please use the submission box below to let us know in a few words or even one word what this month means to you. 

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Black History highlight - John Blanke

Little is known about John Blanke. He is first introduced in the 'Westminster Tournament Rolls' in 1511 as the only Black person shown. John Blanke was only one of around 200 African people in early 16th century England and, though he cannot account for every African experience in England, his ability to rise in the ranks of English society as a result of his musical skill suggests that the African presence was not unwelcome. 

His musical skill allowed him a comfortable position as a court musician and in England he was free - or at least freer - with life being dictated far more by social class rather than his skin colour. Records from the King’s Chamber Treasury show John Blanke’s monthly wages to be 20 shillings or £12 a year - twice the amount of an agricultural worker and three times the amount of a typical servant. This position also provided John Blanke with board, lodging and a clothing allowance.

John Blanke’s presence in Tudor courts was not restricted only to Henry VII’s reign. John Blanke was a noted trumpeter in Henry VIII’s coronation and following the death of a fellow trumpeter petitioned for an increase of pay to 16d a day. John Blanke's presence in Tudor history is vital in going beyond slavery and creating a more diverse narrative in Black British history and Britain's global history. 

Provided by the University of York History Society

Read, watch and listen

Check out these resources to help educate yourself about Black History:

  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré - an inspirational story of a young girl growing up in Nigeria who fights for her dreams to be educated. 
  • Coming to England: Follow the story of Baroness Floella Benjamin on her journey from Trinidad to London as part of the Windrush Generation. 
  • Black and British by David Olusoga, winner of the British Book Awards Children's Illustrated & Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2021. Find the answers to some thought provoking questions about Black British history.
  • Enslaved with Samuel L Jackson, on BBC iPlayer is a 4 part documentary that explores the untold story of the transatlantic slave trade. 
  • Amistad, available to watch on Netflix, is based on the true story of a slave ship that rebelled while on their way to the USA in 1839 and the court case in which some Americans tried to see them freed. 
  • Akala | Lecture Series shares Akala’s recommendations of must read books and gives a brief introduction into his learnings and experience as a Black man in Britain. 
  • Take a listen to John Agard’s, Checking Out Me History. A poem about the lack of Black history that is taught in British schools.
  • Witness Black History, a podcast series from the BBC World Service where they interview people who were there at key moments in the civil rights movement in the United States. Learn more about the unknown struggles Black people in the USA have faced in the past and how that impacts today.

Next week

  • Keep your eye on our instagram page where current students will be sharing what makes them proud to be Black.
  • Find out more about representation, what it means and why it is so important.
  • Get an updated list of read, watch, listen recommendations.
  • Come and take a look at the events that are taking place across the University and if anything takes your fancy, sign up to get involved! 

Contact us

Access and Outreach
+44 (0)1904 323529