Black History Month – an international annual month, celebrating, recognising and valuing the inspirational individuals and events from within the Black community. During Black History Month, we remember and celebrate the important people from the past and also who contribute to and help our society today. First celebrated in the UK in 1987, Black History Month in the UK is marked annually during the month of October and in the USA and Canada during the month of February, with important reference to the black society. Black History Month UK went from receiving a kind-hearted response to being a national celebration to BHM UK individuals, shaping history as it stands today. Black History Month 2021 is being celebrated with a national theme of ‘Proud To Be’.
'Proud to be' - Articles and a FREE course on Black History
The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license
The life of Mama Elouise Edwards
From her birth in Georgetown, British Guiana, to her MBE for services to the Manchester community, this article explores the extraordinary life of Mama Elouise Edwards...Watch now ❯The life of Mama Elouise Edwards
The artist Helen Cammock discusses how her art has transformed from using herself as a conduit for conversations about race to ‘the collective’ in this film. In the article below Philip Seargeant explores how art can operate as a form of storytelling, different to political or media storytelling.Watch now ❯Helen Cammock and the art of storytelling
What brought a bright young woman, working in the civil service in 1950s British Guiana, to settle in Manchester? And who could have predicted the impact she would have as she worked with the African Caribbean communities there?Watch now ❯Betty Luckham: celebrating the activism of a pioneering Windrush woman
Professor Wangari Maathai was an environmentalist and the first female African Nobel Peace Prize winner. Yoseph Araya explores her contribution to the environment and what that meant to be a woman in this field of work.Read now ❯Wangari Maathai: standing up for women and the environment
Dr Anita Naoko Pilgrim explores the life of W.E.B. Du Bois and explains why his ground-breaking work on African American lives deserves attention today.Read now ❯W.E.B. Du Bois – A Man for All Times
NASA/Bob Nye under Creative-Commons license
Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician and much-needed role model
Katherine Johnson, who in February 2020 died at the age of 101, was an amazing woman. But up until a few years ago, hardly anyone had heard of her or her achievements. Professor Monica Grady explores her amazing legacy.Read now ❯Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician and much-needed role model
In this free course, The American Civil Rights Movement, you will learn about the mass movement for racial equality in the United States that reached its zenith during the 1950s and 1960s. During this turbulent period in United States history, black Americans sought to overturn deeply entrenched systems of racial segregation and discrimination. This course discusses the key events in this campaign for social justice, drawing on a wide range of primary sources. In doing so, it assesses the achievements, shortcomings and revolutionary qualities of the civil rights movement. Use of racial language and terms This course deals with topics involving racial issues. Since the societies being studied were characterised by deeply-held and widespread racist views, this course contains language that is also racist. Although these may provoke a strong personal response, we believe it is necessary to engage with such attitudes to reach a clear understanding of the past. This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutionsand is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties. TranscriptLearn more ❯The American Civil Rights Movement
Inspiring black women from across the globe
As a single woman in the early 20th century making ends meet was no easy feat, so it's remarkable that Madam CJ Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in America. Read her story here...Read now ❯World-Changing Women: Madam CJ Walker
A rights activist against the exploitation that was prevalent in South Africa, Charlotte Maxeke was South Africa's first black female graduate and one of the first female freedom fighters. Find out more about her extraordinary story...Read now ❯World-Changing Women: Charlotte Maxeke
In her last speaking engagement as First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama showed how to give a speech that resonates.Watch now ❯Why Michelle Obama's farewell is a masterclass in speech making
Videos and podcasts on black arts and culture
How did the West African artworks known as the Benin Bronzes end up in European museums? And why does it matter?Watch now ❯Art, Loot and Empire: The Benin Bronzes
To celebrate Black History Month in 2009, we focused on notable black people in the fields of science, technology and engineering.Read now ❯10 years on... The Z Files with Benjamin Zephaniah
There's a lot more to Notting Hill Carnival than a great street party. This album gives you a true insider guide, by some of the people who have made the Carnival what it is today. Its story reaches back to the darkest recesses of European tradition, through Colonialism and slavery, to racist Britain of the 1950’s and 60’s. It merges contemporary ideas with art forms reaching back via the Caribbean slave plantations to tribal Africa. And its setting in West London brings out a history of the area which some of its residents might prefer to forget. The album also contains academic perspectives from Susie West, Lecturer in Heritage Studies at The Open University; Hakim Adi, Reader in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora at Middlesex University; and Ruth Tompsett, Visiting Lecturer in Carnival Studies at Middlesex University. This material forms part of The Open University Course AD281 Understanding global heritage.Listen now ❯Carnival and the performance of heritage
How does a poet represent two distinctly different cultures in their work? How did James Berry interpret his experience and those of other Jamaican’s that migrated to England in the late 1940’s into his writing? James Berry was born in Jamaica in 1924, but moved to England during the wave of immigration from the West Indies led by the Empire Windrush. From a young age Berry had an interest in language, and showed an aptitude for spoken word and through writing soon realised he could explore the world from different perspectives. He became part of a new generation of post-colonial poets who drew inspiration from their country of birth in addition to British culture. This album focuses on a selection of poems from his collection titled Windrush songs. This material forms part of The Open University course A230 Reading and studying literature.Listen now ❯James Berry: Windrush songs
What is Black British Jazz? This short film explores the research carried out by The Open University research team led by Dr Jason Toynbee who has been examining the history of Black British Jazz and the stories of the artists who have performed it. This video looks at the history of jazz and how the story dates back as far as 1919, documenting how successive waves of black musicians have contributed to developing new and uniquely British sounds, as well as addressing the problematic issues surrounding race and cultural identity.Watch now ❯Black British Jazz
Articles on the Civil Rights Movement
Copyright free: Cecilio Ricardo, US Air Force
How did Aretha Franklin inspire the civil rights movement?
Aretha Franklin's death in 2018 saw the loss not just of a sublime singer, but also one of key figures in the US Civil Rights movement. Leah Kardos pays tribute.Watch now ❯How did Aretha Franklin inspire the civil rights movement?
Rosa Parks and Rob Williams sparked a revolution against racism – but has the US squandered their legacy?
When Rosa Parks caught a bus on 1 December 1955, she created a moment of history. Dr Anthony Gunter looks at how the struggles for integration still continue in America today.Read now ❯Rosa Parks and Rob Williams sparked a revolution against racism – but has the US squandered their legacy?
Copyright free: Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-126558
How radical was Martin Luther King?
His message on civil rights was unequivocal - but Paul Harvey argues that in Martin Luther King's economic and social message was his greatest claim to radicalism.Read now ❯How radical was Martin Luther King?
Black people in sport
Why haven’t the often-extraordinary stories of Black sportspeople been woven into British sporting memory? What does this tell us about the relationship between ‘race’, racism and sport history? Dr Jim Lusted explores…Read now ❯ Uncovering Britain’s Lost Black Sporting Heroes
Muhammad Ali died on Friday June 3rd, 2016. Ellis Cashmore remembers a legend on both sides of the ropes.Read now ❯What made Muhammad Ali "The Greatest"?
Copyright free: Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels
Black lives matter in sport too: what is the BAME experience of sport in the UK?
In the current climate, it would be hard not to notice the social upheaval among the BAME population in the UK and USA. Be it the high proportion of deaths among the BAME community from contracting COVID-19 or unarmed black men and women being killed unjustly by the police. So, as a black British man with Nigerian parents, I must express my views from a sports and physical activity viewpoint. Can Sports be a beacon of hope in these dark times?Read now ❯Black lives matter in sport too: what is the BAME experience of sport in the UK?
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This free course brings national census data to life by highlighting the vibrant stories of the diverse residents of Milton Keynes. This ‘new town’ with an increasingly mixed population, serves as a rich case study for understanding demographic changes in ethnicity and religion across the UK. The approach can be applied in any local context. It encourages reflection upon personal lived experience and its relationship to the complexities of identity, ethnicity and religion, as observed in the census statistics over time.Learn more ❯Census stories: Bringing statistics to life in Milton Keynes
This free course, Discovering music: the blues, will introduce you to a musical tradition with roots in the nineteenth century but which is still relevant to making music today. You will learn about how the lyrics of blues songs reflect the social environment in which they were created, and about the musical techniques that underpin the structures of blues songs. You do not need to play an instrument, to sing or have any prior musical knowledge to be able to complete this course.Learn more ❯Discovering music: the blues
This free course concentrates on Sam Selvon's twentieth-century novel, The Lonely Londoners. It considers the depiction of migration in the text as well as Selvon's treatment of memory as a vital part of the migrant's experience.Learn more ❯Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners
This free course, Working with diversity in services for children and young people, will provide you with an understanding of the ways in which diverse and intersecting social identities structure the lives and experiences of children and young people, and the implications of those identities for professional practice. Although designed primarily for those working with or supporting children or young people, whether in a paid or voluntary role, it will also be of interest to those who wish to improve their understanding of services for children and young people.Learn more ❯Working with diversity in services for children and young people
In many ways the African diaspora is a contentious episode from the past (and indeed present). This free course, The African diaspora: An archaeological perspective, explores why this area of research has been traditionally under-represented and highlights the ways in which archaeology can contribute to this fast-growing field of study.Learn more ❯The African diaspora: An archaeological perspective