October marks Black History Month – the annual celebration of the achievements, history and contributions of black people to the UK. Having now been celebrated in Britain for 40 years, Black History Month aims to counter the lack of representation in our country’s history books and shine a light on those who have been forgotten and overlooked. Despite 2020 forcing many events to be cancelled, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate this month. These are just a few of them…
Drawing inspiration from his west African heritage, contemporary visual artist, creative and poet INxSANIxTY presents Gidan Tunani – an art experience aiming to challenge the ideas around the human condition. Gidan Tunani, which translated as ‘House of Thought’ in Hausa, a northern Nigerian language, will look at identity, displacement, faith, culture, colonialism, misogyny and race within the world we inhabit via numerous mediums, including oil paintings, drawings, video art and sculpture. Expect an exhibition a clever use of art as social commentary from this exciting Peckham-based artist.
1-5 October; Copeland Gallery, 133, Copeland Road, Peckham, SE15; copelandpark.com
This exhibition from award-winning social documentary photographer Jim Grover first debuted in 2018 at the South Bank’s Oxo Gallery, when it received widespread acclaim. Now, it’s being resurrected for Black History Month at Brixton Library – an apt location since many of the images were shot in Brixton. The photo story illustrates the daily lives and customs of the Windrush generation, from community clubs to family gatherings, dominoes to dancing. Together, the images provide a beautiful, emotional insight into this part of Britain’s Caribbean community.
1 October – December 2020; Brixton Library, Birxton Oval, Brixton, SW2; windrushportraitofageneration
To mark Black History Month, Netflix will be streaming Black British Stories, a special collection of 20 different films, shorts and television series over October, each of which celebrates different aspects of the black British experience. Focussing on “joy, friendship and family”, the collection will be selected by Adeyemi Michael, the award-winning filmmaker whose parents moved to the UK from Nigeria when he was two. Amongst the titles, make sure you don’t miss the critically acclaimed Rocks – the uplifting story of a teenage girl who, after being abandoned by her mother, finds solace in her multi-ethical friends.
Black British Stories will be streaming from 1 October on Netflix; netflix.com
Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College aims to shine a light on the black mariners who played a crucial role in its history in this brand new exhibition. In it, the stories of black seaman of the 18th and 19th centuries are explored, including prominent pensioners such as Briton Hammon, the author of the first slave narrative and John Simmonds, a Jamaican veteran of the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. While some of these men were volunteers, many were enslaved. This exhibition looks at their shared experience – a life both unpredictable and extraordinary.
3 October 2020 – 21 February 2021; King William Walk, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10; ornc.org
Coinciding with Black History Month is the launch of #SharetheMic – an online campaign where black women take over the Instagram accounts of prominent white women on 1 October. Stemming from a desire to put women’s relationships ahead of racial injustice, the campaign will see over 70 accounts transformed for the day. Highlights include Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo taking over CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour’s instagram account, presenter June Sarpong taking over Victoria Beckham’s account and Sharmadean Reid taking over Charlotte Tilbury’s.
When Tower Hamlets council invited budding photographers to submit works around the wide ranging theme of Black History Month, they were inundated with entries. More than 50 of these images can now be viewed in an online photography exhibition, photo-open. Grouped into categories including culture and folklore, politics and protest, and portraits, the photographs perfectly encapsulate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the area, touching on a range of issues including demonstrations against racism, local women at work and the effects of the current coronavirus pandemic. Expect to be filled with emotions ranging from anger to joy.
From 1 October, tower-hamlets.gov.uk