Learn About Black British History At These 11 Events This Month

October is Black History Month and, while Black history should be championed for more than just one month, this time of year really gives us the chance to acknowledge, celebrate and learn about the impact Black people and culture have had on London and England as a whole. The theme for Black History Month 2022 is Time For Change. Across the month, there is a whole host of activities taking place at various locations in the capital, so there’s something for everyone to get involved, get inspired and get thinking.

a woman dancing in front of a screen at LexTempus

Head down to 18 Leake Street for an immersive music experience: LexTempus. Every Friday–Sunday afternoon and evening this month, you can embark on a 90-minute journey through three iconic American cities and music periods that defined music, spearheaded by the Black American community. This powerful experience will use a 34-speaker system, 270-degree screens and customised scents to bring Chicago’s Jazz scene, the kings of Soul in New York, and disco in San Fransisco to life right here in London. If you opt for a VIP ticket, you can even enjoy three complimentary cocktails. Book your ticket here.

2. Partake in the Black History Haringey 365 activities programme

the exterior of the Bernie Grant arts centre
Image: Shutterstock

Across the month – and throughout the year, in fact – Haringey Council are partnering with local organisations, hosting a range of activities as part of Black History Haringey 365. From craft workshops to walking tours along Tottenham’s West Green Road, home of many influential Black-owned businesses, there’s plenty to do. The libraries in the district will be screening relevant films, and over at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, there’ll be a celebration event with Haringey-based artists and creators. Check out the full programme here.

3. Support Black businesses

Between October 17–22, it is Black Business Week, which focuses on unifying Black professionals, as well as nurturing talent in upcoming generations. As with this year’s Black History Month theme, Time For Change, the community endeavour to level out the race discrepancies in the workplace. Even if you’re not attending one of the many talks or workshops during the week, you can still lend your support in other ways. There are many Black-owned business around London from restaurants to retailers; pop in! Whether you’re indulging in a Caribbean spread at Fish, Wings and Tings in Brixton or shopping for diverse greeting cards at Pop Up United in Brent Cross, you can show your support.

4. Relive Notting Hill Carnival at a Kings Cross theatre

participants in the notting hill carnival parade in 2016
Image: Shutterstock

Back in 1959, a London-based Trinidadian human rights activist, Claudia Jones, put on a BBC-broadcasted indoor ‘Caribbean Carnival’ at St Pancras Town Hall. So, it is rather poignant that on Saturday, October 8, there will be a Carnival-themed event at Kings Cross’ Shaw Theatre. Between 6pm and 8pm, relive the biggest and brightest Carnival in Europe at Carnival Celebration 2022, with specific focus on the Carnival’s history and artistic journey. Find out more and book tickets here.

5. Let loose at a house music event at Peckham Levels

Leanne Pero mural outside Peckham Levels

On October 22, Peckham Levels are hosting an all-day party, ‘The House That Black Built’, on Level 5. Houseology founder, Funk Butcher, will be curating the tunes, celebrating house music and its Black roots up between 2pm–10pm. House DJs such as IC, Melle Brown, PORSH and Vula Malinga will be on the decks. Find out more here.

6. Honour the history of a London-based Motown nightclub

a band singing on stage at The Night Owl

The beginning of the month (September 26 – October 2) saw National Inclusion Week, and to honour the occasion, nightclub The Night Owl are celebrating the history of their Finsbury Park venue all month long. The soul and retro music bar provides an eclectic mix of music events, and they seek to empower communities through events, performances, and partnerships with local businesses. The vibrant venue also offers delicious Caribbean fusion cuisine as part of its brunch menu, inspired by Jamaican and Barbadian heritage. Find out more on their website.

7. Engage with Union Chapel’s exciting events

performers on stage at Union Chapel

Islington-based music venue and church Union Chapel are hosting a plethora of events to mark Black History Month. From film screenings to spoken word performances, panel discussions to live music, there’s lots to see, do and listen to. Attend a talk on climate and the past of colonialism on October 5, or perhaps hear an evening of music and poetry from civil rights campaigners on October 26. Find out more here.

8. Browse artworks at an East London gallery

an image from The Way They See Us exhibition

Between October 1–31, East London gallery London Lighthouse Gallery & Studio will exhibit the works of artist Jacqueline Suowari in an installation entitled The Way They See Us. The selection of portraits, in Suawari’s distinctive ballpoint pen style, challenge the stigmas surrounding Black identity, while weaving in symbols of cultural significance to the artist. This exhibition marks the artist’s debut in the UK. Head to the gallery to check it out.

9. Join a Black History Walk walking tour

two people walking on cobblestones
Image: Shutterstock

Throughout the year, the Black History Walk team deliver insightful walking tours around the capital – and what better month to join one than Black History Month? As you stroll the familiar streets, you’ll learn about how hundreds of years of African and Caribbean influence has contributed to London’s way of life. Your guide will provide insights on architecture, secret societies, freedom fighters, slavery and much more as you amble around the oldest parts of London. As an example, October 6‘s walk focuses on theatre’s Black influence, while the walk on October 23 specifically focuses on the power of Black women. The team have been delivering tours in the capital for over 15 years, so you know you’re in good hands. Find a full list of their tours here.

10. Admire last year’s Black History tube map at the V&A Museum

Black History Tube map at the V&A Museum
Image: Peter Kelleher ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

During Black History Month 2021, TfL unveiled a recreation of the London Tube Map in partnership with the Black Cultural Archives, replacing the tube names with the names of over 272 Black people who have had an enormous impact on Britain and London. The lauded map is now exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and you can take a visit to see it for yourself. From art to sport to medicine, you’ll learn about influential people who may not have made an appearance in your history books, but are an integral part of British culture, including composer Cecile Nobrega, aforementioned activist Claudia Jones, and driver Joe Clough.

11. Hear thought-provoking poetry at a free Poet’s Corner in Canary Wharf

three poets on steps, reading poetry, in Canary Wharf

A Poets’ Corner has opened in Canary Wharf, with the aim of giving a platform to Black poets across the capital. Over four weeks (October 8, 15, 19 and 22), free-to-attend performances from spoken word artists will take place; the poems have been specifically chosen to ignite conversation around the Black experience and celebrate Black culture in Britain. After each poet has performed, the performance will finish with members of the audience invited to come up on stage to perform their own poem, rap or story. Expect to hear from the likes of Young People’s Poet Laureate Theresa Lola, British-Trinidadian dub poet Roger Robinson, Nigerian-British author Sarah Aluko, and more. All poems featured during Black History Month will also be published in Canary Wharf’s Short Story Stations – the innovative vending machines that dispense free one, three or five minute stories for visitors to read. Find out more here.