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. This year’s theme is ‘Saluting Our Sisters’. Black women are striving to make their voices heard, and Black History Month has this year partnered with the ‘#WeMatter’ movement. Across the month, there is a whole host of activities taking place around the city, so there’s something for everyone to get involved in, get inspired by, and get thinking about.
To read more about this year’s efforts to highlight and celebrate Black women throughout history, head to the Black History Month website.
1-5. Check out a special exhibition
A number of London’s museums and galleries are marking Black History Month with special events and programmes. Some attempt to shed new light on existing exhibitions and displays through panels and discussion, while others have completely new displays.
📸 East London’s Brady Arts Centre is hosting a special photography exhibition for Black History Month, between October 6 and 28. HERE & NOW celebrates Black British photographers with a particular emphasis on fantastical works inspired by and speaking to the impacts of African and Caribbean culture in London.
🎥 The Museum of London Docklands, is inviting visitors to “discover and celebrate revolutionary Black women throughout history”. They’re hosting a special film screening and a talk from Olivette Otele about Black women’s role in resistance and activism.
⏳ The Natural History Museum is commemorating Black History Month with The Explorers Family Festival (October 8). The day will see visitors treated to a series of free events and workshops exploring the contributions Black historians, scientists and communities have made to the study of Natural History.
💄 ‘The Beat Goes On‘ is a four-day (October 12 – 15) celebration of Black culture that explores the impact on and contributions to art, fashion, and music. Find it at 177-180 Piccadilly, and be sure to book your free ticket ahead of time.
📸 Poplar Union’s roster of Black History Month events includes the launch of the Living Legacies: 75 Years On Photography Exhibition on October 5. The exhibition explores “the stories of individuals from the 1st and 2nd generation of Windrush.”
6. Grow your business at UK Black Business Week
Between October 2-7, it is UK Black Business Week, which focuses on unifying Black professionals, as well as nurturing talent in upcoming generations. Described as a “Week for Black Entrepreneurs, Professionals and allies”, the aim is to educate and support attendees with talks, panels, networking opportunities, and workshops.
Honouring this year’s Black History Month theme, 2023’s Black Business Week kicks off with a day of “events unifying Black women and men on their own growth journeys as entrepreneurs or professionals”. The rest of the week is then split, by day, into different industries. Tuesday is leadership day, while Wednesday focuses on the tech industry. Thursday then focuses on Black Allyship, Media Culture and Sport, and Black in Legal, with Friday narrowing in on finance and money.
7-12. Support Black businesses
But even if you’re not an entrepreneur or businessperson, you can still support London’s diverse offering of Black-owned businesses. With everything from restaurants to retailers, salons, pubs, cafes, and more – it’s easy to make a conscious decision to support Black-owned businesses. Whether you’re indulging in a Caribbean spread at Fish, Wings & Tings in Brixton or shopping for diverse greeting cards at Pop Up United in Brent Cross, you can show your support. Here are a few of our favourite Black-owned businesses in London:
🍫 Dark Sugars – wickedly indulgent hot chocolates and decadent chocolate truffles
🍻 Prince of Peckham – one of South London’s most popular pubs, landlord Clement Ogbonnaya is on a mission to turn London’s pubs into proper community spaces
🍩 Treats Club – these doughnuts are so good, they even ordered them to the set of Barbie!
🍽️ Chuku’s – Nigerian tapas and an extraordinary, unique brunch experience
For a full list check out Black Owned London’s comprehensive guide.
13-15. Head to a Black-owned market
If you want to surround yourself with Black-owned businesses and be able to shop, eat, sip, and dance the day away in one location, head to one of these markets.
🎉 BOLO Fest (September 29 – October 1): Black Owned London has partnered up with Camden Council for this celebration of Black culture, entrepreneurship, and community at Coal Drops Yard.
🍅 Black Farmer’s Market (October 8): Black growers and Black-owned businesses are spotlighted at Brixton’s regular Black Farmer’s Market, inspired by Brixton Market’s heritage.
🛍️ Black-Owned Hackney (October 5-7): Head to Bohemia Place for a weekend-long showcase of the rich culture found across London’s Black communities. There’s street food, sustainable shopping, plenty of cocktails and refreshments, and live performances and DJs.
16. Partake in the Black History Haringey 365 activities programme
Across the month, and throughout the year, in fact, Haringey Council celebrates the significant contributions that its Black communities have made, and continue to make, in the area and throughout the UK. As part of the celebration, the council partners with local organisations to host a range of activities as part of Black History Haringey 365.
Events range from craft workshops to choir performances, and walking tours that explore the area’s neighbourhoods and history. There will also be film screenings in the district’s libraries, as well as a number of exciting new exhibitions to explore and workshops to take part in. Check out the full programme here.
17. Join a Black History Walk walking tour
Throughout the year, the Black History Walk team deliver insightful walking tours around the capital. 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 have 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 London. As an example, the Hackney Black History Walk on October 1 focuses on the history of the 70 years since the SS Windrush arrived from the Caribbean. Meanwhile, on October 29 the Image of the Black in Tate Britain breaks down the role of the Black presence in British art, and how it traces socioeconomic and cultural factors. The team have been delivering tours in the capital for over 15 years, so you know you’re in good hands.
18. Or a Black History bus tour
If you’re not much of a walker, you can still get a similar experience with the Black History Bus Tour. The three-hour drive takes guests past some of London’s most iconic sightseeing attractions but with an emphasis on the African/Caribbean perspective. With 3500 years of history to uncover, stories will range across topics from Black Tudors to Jimi Hendrix, Female Resistance leaders, British Black Panthers, Windrush, Frederick Douglas, Nelson Mandela, and much more.
19-22. Take in a live show
A time-honoured way of educating and spreading understanding has been through the usage of art. Be that through literature, song, or performance, the power of culture to spread stories is unparalleled. Head to these live shows where you’ll likely gain new insight, or learn something new – while being entertained along the way!
🎤 Experience the Magic of Motown for one night only, as the touring show enters its 18th year of performance.
🩰 Ballet And The Black Experience will see excerpts performed by members of The Royal Ballet, alongside discussions on diversity and dance.
💊 The Effect is a thrilling new play at the Lyttelton Theatre about Connie and Tristan, who aren’t sure if they’re falling in love, or if it’s side effects of the new drug they’re testing.
🤣 Head on down to The Top Secret Comedy Club, where the Comedy Shutdown Black History Month Special will have you in stitches as they showcase a vast array of Black comedic talent.
23. Climb aboard a bus honouring Windrush pioneers
Back in August TfL unveiled a moving tribute to Windrush pioneers for Notting Hill Carnival: a London bus wrapped in a design from artist Baraka Carberry. Following its initial reveal, the bus will be in service throughout October to honour Black History Month, so your commute could be an educational affair.