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Black History Month

Explore Library resources, stories and perspectives on Black History Month from Lancaster University Library and beyond.

Black History Month 2023

This year Black History Month celebrates the contributions of Black women under the title ‘Saluting our Sisters’ and as part of the #WEMATTER movement. "Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, and Honouring Matriarchs of Movements."

As puts it: "The theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’ highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. This year’s celebration will showcase pioneering black women who have made remarkable contributions to literature, music, fashion, sport, business, politics, academia, social and health care, and more."

Malika Booker: Reading and In Conversation

Malika Booker is an award-winning British-Caribbean writer, poet, theatre-maker, multi-disciplinary artist and creative writing lecturer. She was the inaugural Poet-in-Residence at Royal Shakespeare Company. As well as poetry she has also written for radio and theatre.

In 2001 she co-founded Malika’s Poetry Kitchen to create "a nourishing an encouraging community of writers dedicated to the development of their writing craft." It is now a firmly established writers collective based in London offering bi-weekly writers surgeries. It has supported writers such as Inua Ellams, Warsan Shire and Aoife Mannix. Guest tutors have included Kwame Dawes, Fred D’Aguiar and Bernardine Evaristo.

Her debut collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Press, 2013) was shortlisted for the Poetry Prize for First Collection from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Her poem 'The Little Miracles' won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2020. 

Amongst many other things things she is currently working on Bread of Redemption, described as "a body of work in conversation with the bible." On the 12th October, 2 - 4pm, in our Library Events Space she will read from this and previous work and discuss her career and her relationship with Black History Month with the Library's Doug Purvis.

Please reserve a seat by clicking on the poster to follow a link to the LibCal booking page.

Brilliant Black British Women (just click on a cover to view the book on Onesearch)

Here to Wonder: An Exhibition of Potraits by Lela Harris

"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering 'bout the big things and asking 'bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”

Kendal-based artist Lela Harris will be exhibiting some of her work in our 'Under the Stairs' exhibition space next to the Library entrance doors from 9th - 23rd October. Taking pride of place among both new and older works on display will be her original sketches for the beautiful Folio Society Edition of Alice Walker's classic novel The Color Purple

The Folio Society website says the following about Lela and about the illustrations she did for the novel:

"British artist Lela Harris is entirely self-taught and her achingly beautiful illustrations, newly commissioned for our edition, perfectly depict the key characters in Walker’s novel. Each black-and-white charcoal drawing includes a flash of purple in homage to the book title, and Harris catches her subjects off-guard or in pensive moods as they bare their souls while their stories are told. The portraits make this the only illustrated edition in print and were personally approved by Alice Walker, who described them as having ‘soul and expertise’. Harris’s astounding artwork continues to the binding, which is a collage of subject matter and media; a stunning design inspired by the quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The women in this remote Black community have crafted quilts since the early 20th century and their history resonates with Celie’s, whose sewing skills elevate her self-worth and give her independence."

There will be an 'Opening' event for the exhibition, with refreshments, on Monday 9th October, 4 - 6pm, with the artist herself in attendance. 

That Great British Documentary

On Thursdays 19th October, 6 - 8pm in our Library Events Space, as part of the our Black History Month celebrations we are showcasing this engaging and unusual film that seeks to explore the issues raised by mixed heritages and identites in contemporary Britain through the eyes of one woman trying to make some kind of sense of it all. 

Ten years in the making, and prompted by the death of her father, as well as the way the Grenfell tragedy was represented in mainstream media, filmmaker Joan Joan set out to try to understand her own "dual heritage" and it's relationship to Britain’s colonial past. The thought-provoking and intensely personal BBC documentary That Great British Documentary is the result. As she herself points out, she is the writer, director, filmmaker and producer of the film, and also it's subject.

After showcasing the film Joan will discuss the issues she raises with Rachel Odufuwa, who is a postgraduate researcher in Sociology here at Lancaster. Rachel's work is concerned with "challenging the historical silencing of marginalised groups, such as Black women, in knowledge production and using methods that seek to centre the voices of Black women and, in the process, allows them to be agents of knowledge." We are sure that the discussion between these two women will be illuminating and inspiring. 

This is a free event but space is limited so we ask that you book your seat in advance of the event. Please book your seat by clicking on the poster to follow a link to our LibCal booking page.


Talking to Transgress: Decolonising as the Practice of Freedom

Wednesday 18th October in the Library Events Space

Presenters: Rachel Odufuwa and Richard Budd

In this discussion session we will explore what decolonising might mean from the perspective of students. In principle we will be suggesting that higher education could – in fact should – be quite different in order for all students to feel more welcome on campus and classrooms in order to thrive. We will cover a number of different aspects such as student and staff recruitment, the curriculum, and teaching. In discussing these different aspects, we will be using an inclusive pedagogue—the ‘talking circle’ method to begin a process of liberating or freeing our minds from the logic of coloniality, which insists on there being relationships of power and hierarchy. In the context of the classroom, these power dynamics have existed historically between the teacher and the students, and it is these power dynamics which the ‘talking circle’ method seeks to dismantle so that both teachers and students come to see each other as ‘knowledgeable equals’.

This is a free event open to staff, students, and members of the public. Please follow this link to our booking page to book your seat.