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Black History Month

Black History MonthCouncillor Lynda Rice, Cabinet Member for Equality & Diversity, is proud to present another packed month of events to celebrate Black History Month in Barking & Dagenham - even in these times of social distancing.

Black History Month runs throughout the month of October.

It’s designed to celebrate the culture, history and achievements that Black African and Caribbean people have brought to our country.

The rich cultures and traditions of the Black community here in the Britain have for many years contributed to the diversity of our country and is a key part of what makes Britain so unique.

As a part of Black History Month a number of events are held across Barking and Dagenham.


Black History Month events 2020 Toggle accordion

As part of our wider diversity, equality and inclusion agenda, LBBD is working in partnership with local arts, cultural and community organisations throughout the month of October to deliver a wide programme of events and activities.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions please note that many of these will be taking place online. Please check each listing for further information.

For further information about the nationwide celebrations please visit the Black History Month website.

Black History Month Flag raising1 OctoberBarking Town HallBlack History Month Flag will be raised at Barking Town Hall to launch the start of the month.
My Heritage: #shareyourstory

Valence House Museum and Archives

Participate and contribute online at Valence House Collections or Valence House - Facebook

This October, Valence House Museum and Archives is launching a new initiative for Black History Month called Share your Story.

Through online exhibitions and blogs, our heritage staff will be calling on residents to share their unique stories of life in Barking in Dagenham.

This initiative forms part of an ongoing engagement programme to encourage residents from the Black, African and Afro-Caribbean communities to share their stories and heritage of life in the borough. 

Black History Month at Barking and Dagenham libraries 

Selected libraries are open for collection of books only.

Order books for collection

For Black History Month, the council’s libraries have updated their collections with a wide selection of books focusing on Black History and issues relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement.

New additions to their publications include:

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Blonde Roots by Booker Prize winning author Bernadine Evaristo, Rainbow Milk the debut novel by Paul Mendez and the recently published novel The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett amongst many others. 

East End Women's Museum: Black History Online Resources East End Women's Museum

The East End Women's Museum has compiled a number of online resources that focus on the enormous impact of Black women throughout East London's history. Learn about music hall star Belle Davis, Victorian-era nurse Annie Brewster, dancer and strike leader Josie Woods, and the first known published Black poet Phillis Wheatley, among others.

The East End Women's Museum’s new premises in Barking and Dagenham will open to the public in 2021/22, and be a space for continuing to unearth, share and celebrate East End women’s stories

Digesting Politics: Community Cooks + Sharing Food Cultures Regular events throughout OctoberBarking Town Centre Market and online

Lunches and Workshops - Facilitated by Barking and Dagenham’s Good Food Collective together with Fozia Ismail (Arawelo Eats), Deirdre Woods (Granville Community Kitchen), and Company Drinks

The new Good Food Collective is a group of local growers, cooks and makers, who during Black History Month will run events to celebrate the diverse food cultures in the borough and to talk about care for their community, access to good food and activism. 

The Digesting Politics events in October bring together local chefs, residents and guests from outside, spotlighting the richness and complexity of African and Caribbean food cultures in our communities.  There will also be a community meal on Thursday 29 October where the women, their recipes and stories behind the food will be collected in a small publication. 

We are also hosting a talk with food writer and supper-club star Fozia Ismail from Arawelo Eats, and Deirdre Woods, member of the London Food Board and Grenfell Community Kitchen.

The workshop and the community meal are open to the public public, so for more information and to register, please email contact@companydrinks.info.

We are reviewing all events with the current government advice and restrictions.

Public events:

Food Justice and Decolonising the Food Industry 

Thursday 22 October, online, 6pm.
Talk with Dee Woods and Fozia Ismail.

Community Cooks - Afro-Caribbean Meal 

Thursday 29 October, Barking Market, 12pm to 2pm.
A celebration of Afro-Caribbean dishes and the women who hold the knowledge. (Market stall with ticketed servings).

Community food activism workshop

Thursday 5 November, 10am to 12pm, online.(limited spaces available).
Workshop with Dee Woods and the Good Food Collective on community food activism,

Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance sessions3, 10, 17 and 24 October 2020

Online. Book your free place on the BDYD website

Email bdyd@me.com for details. 

Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance (BDYD) will be offering four Zoom sessions using dance to explore ideas and conversations around black community, culture and traditions. 

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

Her Story: Celebrating Black Women Breaking Barriers and Creating HistorySunday 4 October 2020, 5pm.


Visit Eventbrite - Her Story to book your free place

Emerging artist Latifat Obanigba will take us on a journey celebrating and paying tribute to black women breaking the mode and creating history despite all barriers. The journey will tell their stories of strength, resilience, and growth through adversity and reclaiming their queendom in modern society. 

Black communities have been under represented for decades but this event will celebrate black culture and include the broader Barking and Dagenham community.

Her Story promotes a positive image of the black community, women in particular and aims to raise awareness around invisible and silenced topics that affected black women more than ever.

Due to COVID restrictions, the event will be an online art exhibition displaying hand and digitally painted pieces centred around positive black culture and women creating history in modern times. The launch of the online exhibition will be on Sunday 4 October at 5pm, and it will be online for 30 days.

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

Carnival Exhibition by UKON Careers 17 October 2020, 2pm. 


Visit Eventbrite - UKON Careers to book your free place

Come and join UKON Careers in their online Carnival exhibition as they journey and explore how European, Asian and African cultures influenced the Caribbean carnival we all know today.  

UKON Careers is a company that uses carnival arts as a platform to support people into employment, education, and training. Their aim is to develop a greater understanding of carnival, its history, heritage, and its importance to local communities. 
 Find them on YouTube and Facebook - UKON Careers

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

Tales From Uganda: Storytelling Workshop19 October 2020, 4pm (Time to be confirmed). 


Email talesfromuganda@gmail.com to book your free place.


Tales From Uganda retell traditional Ugandan folktales that have been passed down orally from generation to generation. Folktales are important as they educate us about our history and explain why things are that way, for example why the frog does not have a tail or why chickens do not live in the jungles.

In this family fun event, you will have a chance to listen to a performance of a Ugandan folktale by Taata Musa as well as a chance to participate in the storytelling process. Make sure you have something to drum on and get ready! 

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

Pen to Print Presents: Iesha Denize Ledeatte - Peach, Mango, Maverick20 October, 6pm to 7.30pm (Time to be confirmed).


Book your free place at Pen to print events

A conversation with the artist about her life, work and the books that combine her poetry and art. 

The recent loss of the Ledeatte’s mother prompted the conclusion of artistic reflection through artwork that has spanned 10 years and shaped her artistic practice. Part of that work was triggered by Ledeatte’s father’s death, and 2020 demanded the closure of that reflection following her mother’s death during the pandemic. In response to her reflections, Ledeatte has been developing a body of work within her art practice, which explores social issues related to the legacy of colonisation.

Pen to Print Presents: Sharna Jackson - Make Your Own Murder Mystery22 October, 6pm to 8pm.


Book your free place at Pen to print events

Supporting Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) writers, Pen to Print invite you to join author Sharna Jackson, to Make Your Own Murder Mystery during Black History Month.  

Sharna is aiming to raise awareness of the writing contributions from Black and Ethnic Minorities, hosting a creative workshop to find under-represented talent in the writing world.

Everything you ever wanted to know about making a murder mystery – but were afraid to ask.  Together, we’ll work through the elements of a mystery – focusing on People, Plot and Place – and create an outline for a new bestseller, together.  Sharna and Pen to Print encourage participation from participants from minority backgrounds and minority ethnic groups, who would like to delve more into the writing world.

Further opportunities include poems and short stories published in Write On! Magazine

Talking Therapies presents: Moving past the stigma- Race and mental health Thursday 22 October, 12pm to 2pm.


To register contact Safiyah, Arslan or Priscilla at  bdtalkingtherapies@nhs.net

Talking Therapies presents a two-part webinar focusing on mental health and race.

Part one of the webinar will be a reflective space which will focus on people’s own experiences of wellbeing within their cultures. Issues to be discussed include stigmas around mental health, the impact of culture on mental health, and ways of coping within specific cultures.

Part two, facilitated by mental health professionals, will focus on expanding our horizons around mental health and learning about what support there is available for people. This part of the webinar will: define what mental health and anxiety are, consider how we develop resilience to manage stressful situations and expectations around racism, and let people know where they can go for help and resources.
Talking Therapies Barking and Dagenham are an NHS Funded service that provide evidenced based therapy for people who presenting with having difficulties. They are also running workshops for people who are struggling with the COVID-19 situation. This can be done either through video therapy, telephone therapy or online therapy. 
Individuals can access support either by calling 0300 300 1554 opt 3, or visit the Talking Therapies website.

3style Fridays Live Battle – Studio 3 ArtsFriday 23 October, 8pm.Studio 3 Arts

3SF is an exciting, fast-paced and high-octane event, with a large grassroots community following in both the dance community and throughout Barking & Dagenham. A celebration of hip hop and urban culture, with an emphasis on respecting and understanding the origins and pioneers of the styles as well as winning battles, 3SF was conceived by choreographer/actor Jade Hackett (A Monster Calls, Sylvia, Nine Night).  

To celebrate Black History Month, Studio 3 Arts is putting together a special edition of 3Style Fridays, for which 8 of their regular battlers will be invited to freestyle against each other, where one will be crowned winner. The event will be hosted by Jade Hackett, judged by 3 professionals in the industry, with music will be provided by DJ Omar (IMD Legion).

My Mother’s Trunk Box

23 October 2020, 6pm and 24 October, 9pm.


Book online at Eventbrite - My Mother's Trunk Box

sewlondonproject@gmail.com or info@sewlondonproject.co.uk 


My Mother’s Trunk is a brief documentary-film depicting the history of clothing worn when immigrating to England.  By looking at how fashion styles have adapted and evolved from the 1900’s to the present, the film tells the stories of cultural heritages, whilst also focusing on journeys of resilience and determination. 

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

My Mothers Trunk - Facebook

Let’s Move! A Post-Covid Project by: So He Cares27 and 28 October 2020, 12pm to 2pm.


Let's Move - online registration

Or call 07555183177

This is an online event targeted at empowering both children and parents through the eyes of a young girl called Tuka.  

Tuka is a young girl who resides in Barking and Dagenham and she takes us through the period of Covid 19 lockdown. This fiction story is short but Tuka takes us on a journey of how she fully engaged herself during this challenging time. Tuka displays the importance of reading and how she discovered the successes and struggles of an African American Author.

Our online event will take us through varying discussions all geared towards building resilience and confidence. 

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.

Pen to Print Presents: Black History Month Poetry Evening Celebrating Black Writing29 October, 6pm to 7.30pm


Book your free place at Pen to print events

Poet Dauda Ladejobi, along with guest poets, hosts an interactive evening of poetry celebrating black writers.

Part 1: Guest poets and the audience will be reading their own contemporary poetry along with historical works.

Part 2: Open Mic where participants are encouraged to share their own poetry, celebrating Black Culture and those exploring what it means to be Black today. If you don't write poetry and want to join in, perhaps bring along your favourite poem on this subject to share.

Black Lives Matter Barking and Dagenham presents: Cultured 2020 30 October, 6pm. 


To register, email: blmbarkdag@gmail.com

Black Lives Matter are planning to work with local talent from Barking and Dagenham with the aim of educating and empowering individuals of all backgrounds. Like their online campaign " Your voice matters", BLM aim to hold a showcase, demonstrating local talents of ethnic minorities. Barking and Dagenham is incredibly diverse, this event will allow people to focus on what makes them shine and bring unity of people together.

Live event will feature pre-recorded:

  • spoken word 
  • musicians including singers 
  • dance acts 
  • poetry 
  • cooking tutorial segments of Cultural dishes (from local Black owed restaurants)
  • a black British History lesson 

Funded by LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community Fund.


Black History Month - Hall of Fame Toggle accordion

Barking and Dagenham is the proud home of many high-achieving black individuals. From sports to textile art, music to community building and empowerment - black residents have contributed hugely to our borough, as well as nationally and internationally.

The Black History Month Hall of Fame highlights and celebrates just a few of our residents’ achievements and accolades.

The Francis Family (Phil Francis, Greg Francis, Joe Francis and Janice Francis-Irwin)

The Francis family have been at the forefront of British Karate, boasting multiple European and World medallists in their cohort.

Phil is a European medallist and British and English karate squad member. He participated in the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics and is the Head of the Shoujin Karate Association.

Greg is a director of the English Karate Federation and won a silver medal at the World Championships – he was also the youngest black magistrate at 28. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the crown, protecting vulnerable people.

Joe also won European gold as part of his ten-year tenure on the English and British Karate Squad.

Janice Francis-Irwin has been a karate World Champion three times, along with winning multiple British and European titles. She now runs a karate academy and fitness classes. Janice has also hosted Barking and Dagenham’s first big launch event in 2019 for Black History Month.

Wesley Oparaugo

Through his membership of the Barking and Dagenham Youth Forum, Wesley has helped to provide a voice for all young people in the borough. In 2018, Wesley was selected to be the Young Mayor of Barking and Dagenham and used his position to raise awareness about homelessness and fundraise for the New Horizon Youth Centre in London.

Jeorgina Soares and Fatuma Ssesimba

Jeorgina and Fatuma are two local mums and housing association residents. In 2013, they founded Triangoals to give children in their local areas more opportunities and activities. They provide activities such as ballet, football and karate and are regular contributors to Black History Month. In 2018, Triangoals won “Women’s Community Group of the Year” at the Women’s Empowerment Awards.

Stephanie Okoye

Stephanie Okoye is the founder of Women’s Empowerment programme ‘Girls Like Us’, teaching young black girls about intersectionality and related issues. The programme is aimed at 14 to 16 year olds, supporting their personal development and leadership skills. In 2018, she was a winner of the Herstory grant to further her work. 

Stephen Addison

After losing valued friends to gang affiliation and crime, Stephen launched Box Up Crime to tackle youth violence in his community. Box Up Crime uses boxing to educate and inspire young people and divert them away from criminal activity. Young member Brogan Brooks was presented with a Young Londoner Award by the Mayor of London for her work with Box Up Crime, while Beni Mondua went from boxing with Stephen to becoming a National Champion. In January 2019, Stephen was awarded a British Empire Medal for his work with young people.

John Wainaina

John migrated to Barking and Dagenham from Kenya and founded Youth League UK, a multi-award winning organisation dedicated to supporting young people in the borough. Through Youth League, John has been involved in the creation of the ATTIK Youth Club; a play rangers service providing supervised play in parks and open spaces; and the Young Voices youth forum. Youth League was awarded the Matrix Excellence Award by Lord Seb Coe in 2005.

Hannah Kupoluyi

Hannah is the founder of the All Women’s Network, an organisation dedicated to supporting women to gain confidence and achieve their dreams. Hannah has organised numerous events, workshops and training sessions, including the International Soul Food Festival and the annual Women in Business Conference. The All Women’s Network was shortlisted for the National Diversity Award 2018 and also nominated for the Mayor of London’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, celebrating the women who are behind some of the greatest achievements and discoveries in London. In May 2019, Hannah was awarded a Barking and Dagenham Mayoral Appreciation Certificate for her work as a community champion.

Paul Francis

Paul is an entrepreneur and founder of the fitness events company 3ness ltd. Paul is one of the few people in the Afro-Caribbean community to have donated his stem cells to a blood cancer patient. Through this action and affiliation with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, he has raised awareness of Leukaemia and stem cell donation in schools and raised thousands of pounds for the trust.

Colin McMillan

Colin is a British, Commonwealth and World Featherweight Boxing Champion. He grew up in Chadwell Heath and learned to box at the Barking Boys Amateur Boxing Club. Colin now runs a boxing agency and was advisor to the Olympic Champion Super Heavyweight Audley Harrison. In January 2019, Colin received a British Empire Medal in recognition of his charity work with children who have disabilities.

Roy Jerome

Roy is a multiple award-winning karate champion. His accolades include European light middleweight champion, Czechoslovakia open team champion, European team champion, British karate champion and many more.

Barking and Dagenham Youth Forum

The Barking and Dagenham Youth Forum is made up of democratically elected secondary school students who work on a range of campaigns and projects to benefit the borough. Many young black residents have been elected to the forum and do great work to help their community. The current (2019) chair, Johami, has used her role to challenge the police on their attitudes towards youth violence and prompted a review of the role of police officers in schools. Meanwhile, long term Youth Forum member Donnavan managed to expose a shop selling knives to minors, leading to one of the biggest fines in Barking and Dagenham history.

Colin Francis

Colin Francis is a DJ and music producer. Colin is the only UK DJ to have 9 consecutive Number one albums in the UK Compilation Charts, “Marbella Sessions”, “Marbella Collection”, “V.I.P” and “After Party” with the label Ministry of Sound. Colin plays weekly all over the world and in the summer he can be found performing in Marbella and Ibiza regularly. Colin has founded his own record label. Over the years he has taught young people how to DJ in youth and community centres around the UK.

Zahra Ibrahim

Zahra has lived and worked in Barking and Dagenham for 28 years and is the director of the Excel Women’s Centre. The centre provides support and advocacy to women and disadvantaged families. Zahra is also a campaigner against FGM and a Mentor for Global Goals (Girls) for education. She has been an advocate for equality and inclusion for many years.

Arinola Araba

Dr Arinola Araba is a Nigerian-born doctor, social entrepreneur and author. She developed an educational board game to teach children maths and finance skills – bMoneywize – which was featured on ITV news. She now focuses energy on being an acclaimed author, with her memoir “Beautifully Flawed” already published and her next novel “Love at First Byte” soon to follow. Beautifully Flawed was not only an Amazon bestseller but has also been selected by the international literacy charity, Worldreader, for free distribution to 100,000 girls across Africa over the next three years.

Kemi Oloyede

Kemi is an artist and entrepreneur who taught Fine Art and Textiles in schools for twenty years before founding The Sew London Project. Now Kemi teaches workshops on textiles and upcycling, working with traditional African designs, and creates stunning artworks reflecting her years of artistic experience. Kemi won “Business Woman of the Year” at the 2017 Women Empowerment Awards and has been featured in The Guardian, Mail on Sunday and on the Jeremy Vine Show.

Milton McKenzie

Milton McKenzie MBE has served the borough as a local councillor, Mayor and was granted the freedom of the borough. He campaigned for equal rights for the diverse workforce at Ford as Chairman of the Joint Works Committee. He was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to trade unionism and to diversity and equality opportunities in Barking and Dagenham. The former Ford shop steward was appointed chair of the East London Waste Authority (ELWA) in 2002.

Sarah Robertson

Sarah has been working towards better outcomes for young people and their families in Barking and Dagenham for over ten years. She is a boxing and football coach, grassroots youth and community worker, a tutor and assessor, an internal quality assurance officer, a mentor and a business woman. Sarah is one of the founders of Future M.OL.D.S Communities, which has been one of the recipients of several business and community awards and will celebrate their ten year anniversary in March 2020.

Black History Month - Hall of Fame (PDF, 3.6 MB)