EMELAN celebrates Black History Month 2021

Happy Black History Month!

Although it goes without saying that Black History should be taught and celebrated throughout the year, October is particularly prolific for raising awareness about Black history, heritage and culture. Black History Month is also an opportunity to inspire and celebrate the Black community, whilst also reminding us to tackle racial discrimination in the present and past. 

This year's theme for Black History Month, inspired by the 2020 Black Lives Matter events, is 'Proud to Be'. The theme aims to focus on celebrating being Black or Brown and to inspire and share the pride that people have in their heritage and culture.   At ELA, we are looking forward to listening to, and celebrating the heritage and stories of our Black colleagues, families, friends, icons and the community.

We have put together a selection of events and resources, which include webinars, art, theatre, books and more, for you, to mark Black History Month.  We hope that you are able to attend an event or two, or pick up a new book for your bookshelves.


Seminars / Webinars (Legal)

Black Voices in the Legal Sector – InterLaw Diversity Forum  Wednesday 6 October 2021 5-6.15pm  

BSN/ Linklaters Black History Month event: In conversation with Afua Hirsch 12 October 2021) 5-6pm 

Allyship and Coalition from a Black Perspective –Matrix Chambers – A conversation with Emma Dabiri  Wednesday 13 October 2021 6-7:30pm 

Legal Leadership Breakfast: A Conversation with I.Stephanie Boyce President of the Law Society Wednesday, 20 October at 8:30am 

Birmingham Black Lawyers – Black History Month Celebrations 2021 –  No5 Chambers Thursday 21 October 2021 5-8.30pm

Seminars / Webinars  (Non-legal)

Black History Month: Exploring Britain’s Black LGBTQIA+ history – The Guardian Live – Wednesday 13 October 2021 8pm

Celebrating Black History Month in AI  Thursday 14 October 2021 – 1-4:30pm 

David Olusoga - Birmingham Literature Festival  Saturday 9 October 2021 8-9pm Bramall Music Building at Birmingham University  

An Evening with Bernardine Evaristo hosted by Jackie Kay @ HOME Manchester Monday 11 October 2021

Plays / Films / Live music/Shows/Exhibitions

Can I Live? - Watch Online Monday 11 - Sunday 17 October 2021

Love and Resilience: The non-traumatic Black narrative on screen – Tuesday 19 Oct 2021, 6.30pm 

Rockets and Blue Lights at The National Theatre - Running until 9 October 2021 On the set of a new film about Victorian artist JMW Turner, young actress Lou is haunted by an unresolved history. Meanwhile, in 1840 Londoners Lucy and Thomas try to come to terms with the meaning of freedom.

Hamlet at the Young Vic 27 September to 13 November 2021  The highly-anticipated production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, with Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife, The Good Fight) making her YV debut as a new kind of Hamlet. Jumbo reunites with her long-time collaborator, director  Greg  Hersov, to bring us this tale of power, politics and desire. 

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series at BFI London throughout October and November - the five-film collection Small Axe is McQueen’s love letter to Black resilience, triumph, hope, music, joy and love as well as to friendship and family (not forgetting the food!). The stories are anchored in the experiences of London’s West Indian community from the 1960s through to the mid-80s, a community whose lives were shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination (‘Small Axe’ refers to an African proverb that means together we are strong: we are the axe that can take down the big tree). Resonating powerfully with audiences around the globe for their truth, honesty and authenticity, these films lay claim to being among the most important productions of our time.

Kirikou and the Sorceress at  BFI London - Michel Ocelot’s truly stunning animation is based on West African folk tales.  Karaba, a powerful sorceress, is responsible for the local spring running dry and for removing nearly all the male inhabitants of a West African village – but Kirikou is able to walk and talk as soon as he’s born, and this quick-witted child is determined to right her wrongs. West African folk tales form the basis for this creative, mesmerising film from master animator Michel Ocelot

The Story of Lovers’ Rock at Home Manchester –  Sunday 24 October 2021 – 6.15pm
Lovers Rock, often dubbed ‘romantic reggae’, is a uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Providing a coping mechanism for what was happening on the streets, Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance – known as ‘scrubbing’ – at parties and clubs, and developed into a successful sound with a string of national UK hits, influencing the likes of The Police, Culture Club and UB40.

For Black boys who have considered suicide when the hue gets to heavy @ The New Diaroma Theatre – 12 October to 6 November 2021 
For Black Boys pays homage to, and forms a theatrical dialogue across generations, nations, and gender with, Ntozake Shange's seminal African-American feminist work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Forsaking linear narratives in pursuit of a diffuse storytelling practice that brings to life the contested terrains of Black masculinity, this is a poetic production invested in the rich tradition in Black theatre, while continuing to push the form forward.

Chineke! Orchestra: Song of the Prophets –Southbank Centre –16 October 2021 
Chineke!’s motto is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The organisation aims to be a catalyst for change, realising existing diversity targets within the industry by increasing the representation of Black and ethnically diverse musicians in British and European orchestras.

James Barnor: Accra/london – A Retrospective – Serpentine Gallery - 24 May 2021 to 24 October 2021.
The Serpentine presents a major survey of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, whose career spans six decades, two continents and numerous photographic genres through his work with studio portraiture, photojournalism, editorial commissions and wider social commentary.



AKALA – Natives

Afua Hirsch – Brit (ish),  On Race, Identity and Belonging

Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile - The Radical Black Women series seeks to spotlight the central role of Black women in social justice movements in Britain

Emma Dabri - What White People Can Do Next?

David Olusoga - Black and British: A Forgotten History

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu -This is Why I Resist: Don't Define My Black Identity

Kehinde Andrews - Back to Black

Kehinde Andrews -  The New Age of Empire

Ntozake Shange – For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf

Otegha Uwagba - Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods

Race Today Collective - Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology

Articles and online

“Defend Yourself, Unity is Strength”, The Brixton Defence Campaign (1981-1985) - An online exhibit drawing from Black Cultural Archives collections to explore the community response to the Brixton uprising in April 1981. The Brixton Defence Campaign carried out political and legal support work to co-ordinate the defence of those arrested during the uprising. The Campaign continued to fight against state and media suppression, underscoring the Uprisings as legitimate responses to racist policing. This exhibition has been written by our researcher-in-residence Virgillo Hunter, adapting from Brixton Defence Campaign bulletins. The exhibit is intended to offer an introduction to the work of the Brixton Defence Campaign.

‘People of colour have more to offer than our trauma. It’s time the media recognised that’ – Dahaba Ali Hussen - 

Renni Eddo-Lodge – ‘About Race’
Vinita Srivastava – ‘Don’t call me resillient’

Sky – The Black History Month Collection –  Sky has a  collection of movies and shows available on Sky this October to celebrate Black History - this month, and beyond.