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Black History Month

Black History Month

Councillor Sade Bright, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills & Aspirations and Member Development is proud to present another packed month of events to celebrate Black History Month in Barking and Dagenham.

Black History Month runs throughout October and is designed to celebrate the culture, history and achievements that Black African and Caribbean people have brought to the United Kingdom. The rich cultures and traditions of the Black community here 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 2021, a number of events are being held across Barking and Dagenham and online.  All events are free unless otherwise stated.


Black History Month events 2021 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.

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


Launch of Black History Month and flag raising

1 OctoberBarking Town Square

Time TBC
Black History Month Flag will be raised at Barking Town Hall to launch the start of the month.
Nigerian Independence Day and flag raising1 October

Barking Town Square

Time TBC


BDYD Street Dance ClassesSaturdays throughout October term time

Abbey Leisure Centre


Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance (BDYD) offer weekly Street Dance Classes on Saturdays during term time for children aged 5 - 19.  Throughout October BDYD will be offering workshops influenced by black artists.  
Film Project with Robert Clack SchoolMid October - December 31Valance House Museum Gallery and Film SpacesParticipating schools only

The Practicalities of the EHCP with Ruth D-Whyte

5 October


1pm - 2pm

Ruth D-Whyte is an award-winning educationist. Her track record in the sector spans over 25 years; having spent her professional life working both internationally and locally, setting up a multi-phase school and multiple inclusive centres for special needs children.

Despite these achievements she values her role of as a special needs parent the most. Promoting the philosophy she practices, she now is a passionate advocate for fellow special needs parents. She champions them in their fights for their children’s futures. Empowering their own professional growth and development as they all journey to identify their child’s excellence. Ruth published My Excellent Child: The Practicalities of the Education Health and Care Plan For Parents in June 2021.

During this talk, Ruth talks about the role of the parent in the lives of children with SEND, giving you the tools to help your child, get ahead in life, learn their strengths and weaknesses. How can parents discover the hidden strengths of the Educational Health Care plan with respect to their children?

Black History: Past, Present and Future

(Supported through LBBD Cultural Commissioning)

Thursday 14 October: 6.30pm to 9pm

Broadway Theatre - Booking

Curated in partnership with Love Music Hate Racism, Barking and Dagenham College and the Adult College of Barking and Dagenham, hear about the history of African music, artistry and traditions, with a focus on how these continue to influence contemporary culture and society today. Featuring lives performances by Mohammed Gueye Drum Ensemble playing music with an interactive discussion on traditional Senegalese music, and the Love Music Hate Racism Collective featuring Lady Sanity, Lloyd Luther and Consensus.

Small Cures: A Healing Reading with Della Hicks-Wilson

Tuesday 19 October: 7pm to 8pm

Book online

Della Hicks-Wilson is a British poet and writer of Caribbean descent from London, best known for her short viral poems and spoken word videos which have garnered over a million likes and shares to date and thousands of loyal followers.

In the vein of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts, bestselling poet Della Hicks-Wilson will perform a selection of poems from her debut collection Small Cures to the soothing sounds of hip-hop jazz.  

The author will also discuss her writing process and the road from posting to publishing her empowering and lyrical book-length ode to self-love – a Stylist magazine Best Summer Read 2020.

Black History Month Launch of The Library Sessions with Soul and Sound

(Supported through LBBD Cultural Commissioning)


22 October: Time TBC

Valence Library Arts and Culture Hub, Becontree Ave, Dagenham RM8 3HT


As part of Black History Month, The Library Sessions will launch at Valence Library Arts and Culture Hub.  The Library Sessions is a showcase led by Soul and Sound of young, up and coming talent from Barking and Dagenham as well as from across London and the UK.  Within the sessions, singers, instrumentalists and spoken work artists will have the opportunity to perform their music at the historic Valence Library on the Becontree Estate to members of the community as well as an online audience and fan-base.

Soul and Sound is working together with the council’s Culture Service and a team of students who will take full control of key areas of production: set design, sound and lighting, filming, editing, social media, marketing and outreach. The Library Sessions are part of Becontree Forever, a programme led by the council to celebrate the Becontree Estate’s ground-breaking and radical beginnings and reimagine its future.

Her Story III Black History Month 2021 by Excel Women’s Centre

(Supported through LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community funding)

Saturday 23 October:  5pm to 10pm

The Broadway Theatre


Excel Women's Centre showcases the many talents of the African and Caribbean communities in Barking and Dagenham. To celebrate Black History Month, we have arranged an amazing line-up of poets, singers and artists including opening act from Jennifer KamiKazi - Black Skin,  performance from DurDur Band and  Poet Deqa Abdi. There is also an Exhibition from Sewing Sisters.  We hope that this brings the community together regardless of their ethnic background and is a night that you do not forget!

Chocolate Workshop with Cocoa Social Enterprise CIC

(Supported through LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community funding)

Saturday 23 October: Morning session - 10am
Afternoon session - 2pm

Everyone Everyday, The Warehouse, 47 Thames Road, Barking IG11 0HQ


Make your own chocolate and also discover the history of where chocolate comes from, the benefits of eating dark chocolate in an interactive learning environment. You will take home chocolates made by you on the day and also memories of a fun day with your loved ones. Kindly contact the host Oyin, to inform her of any allergy you may have before the day on 07961041231.

ARTiculate the Journey by Thames Ward Community Project

(Supported through LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community funding)


Saturday 23 October: 5pm to 9pm

Everyone Everyday: The Warehouse, 47 Thames Road, Barking IG11 0HQ


Take part in an interactive and social painting event exploring the theme of ‘Journey’ this Black History Month! Join us as we vibe to music, get inspired with some spoken word, and have some fun painting and discussing the journey taken by Black people throughout history. ARTiculate your perspective and re-discover Black History Month

Drop the Mic #LETSTALKABOUTIT by Adanna Women's Support Group

(Supported through LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community funding)


Saturday 23 October: 10am to 3pm

Barking Learning Centre, 2 Town Square, Barking IG11 7NB


If you are between the ages of 11-18 years, join Adanna Women’s Support Group for a series of workshops designed to teach young people about black inventors, political leaders and inspiration people who have made a positive difference to society. Using social media, film making and event planning, participants will also learn how to create a social action campaign for positive change.

When Wilberforce came to teaSaturday 23 October to Fri 24 December (open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm)Valence House MuseumIn the late 1700s the occupiers of Valence House were Henry Merttins Bird and his wife Elizabeth. This exhibition looks at the evidence that suggests that William Wilberforce came for tea at Valence House when he visited his cousin Henry.  It examines the dynamics and tensions that may have existed during this encounter between the abolitionists represented by Henry’s cousin William Wilberforce and the planters represented by Henry’s wife Elizabeth, who owned a slave

Drop the Mic #LETSTALKABOUTIT with Adanna Women’s Support Group

(Supported through LBBD Equalities and Diversity Community funding)

25 October to 29 October

10am to 3pm

Cranbrook Baptist Church, Wellesley Rd, Ilford IG1 4JT


If you are between the ages of 11-18 years, join Adanna Women’s Support Group for a series of workshops designed to teach young people about black inventors, political leaders and inspiration people who have made a positive difference to society. Using social media, film making and event planning, participants will also learn how to create a social action campaign for positive change. 

East End Women’s Museum presents Black Women in East London

Monday 25 October: 11am to 4pm

Location TBC


Join us for a family friendly day of talks and activities. Discover fascinating Black women from East London, such as Phillis Wheatley, the first published Black woman poet, and Annie Brewster, one of the earliest identified nurses of African descent working in London, and share your own stories with us. 

Sew London Project will be running family friendly upcycling workshops during the day. Please bring your own old t-shirts to give them a new life. Workshops from 12pm to 1pm and 2.30pm to 3.30pm.Booking required.

Artist talk by Carole Wright (Blak Outside), hosted by Harun Morrison (They Are Here)

(Supported by New Town Culture, a programme of artistic and cultural activity taking place in adult and children’s social care across the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021: 3.30pm

The White House, 884 Green Ln, Dagenham RM8 1BX


Join us at the White House for a special artist talk by Carole Wright (Blak Outside), hosted by Harun Morrison (They Are Here).

As part of LBBD’s New Town Culture programme, through Spring & Summer of 2021 Carole worked with local families to grow, care for the White House garden, and cook together. Working with soil and plant life, together they explored the histories of plants, nature and the built environment, and who has access to experiences outdoors.

As the garden curls inward for Autumn, conserving its energy for the coming Spring, Carole opens up to talk about how to be safely and proudly Blak Outside.

Carole is joined by Harun Morrison (They Are Here), who led the transformation of the White House garden in 2017.  Families are very welcome to join us for this artist talk, followed by snacks and drinks.
Colonial Countryside: Exploring Eastbury Manor House and Valence House’s connections to Colonialism and the Transatlantic Slave TradeTuesday 26 October:7pm to 8:30pm

Online event: Booking

Eastbury Manor House and Valence House were once country houses with farmed estates. Many British country houses show links to different kinds of colonial activity in a wide range of countries and settings.

Barking and Dagenham Heritage Service is committed to telling the fullest possible histories of their sites, even when some of this history is sensitive. On the publication of new historic research, this talk will explore previous owners and tenants’ connections to colonial activity and the transatlantic slave trade, and how new writing could respond and make sense of this legacy.

With contributions from Lisa Rigg (heritage properties manager and building historian), Paul Crooks (family historian and author), Tobi Oluwe (Barking resident, former volunteer at Eastbury and History graduate) and Corinne Fowler (author on postcolonial literature). As part of Black History Month.

Creating Stories with Janette ParrisWednesday 27 October: 6pm to 7:30pm

Online event: Booking

Janette Parris is a contemporary artist who uses the everyday as the basis for much of her work. Janette exhibits extensively across the UK and internationally and works across different media including drawing, animation, and performance. She creates strongly narrative work, often in the form of comic strips to capture the humorous essence of life, while reflecting a dry and self-effacing look at the world.

In this workshop, Participants will develop a method of how to divide story concepts into manageable comic strip frames and focusing on how to create comic/or comic strip stories. Janette shares the reasons behind her style of working and her experiences of being a black female artist.

Moving Past the Stigma – Race and Mental Health with Talking TherapiesThursday 28 October: 6.30pm to 10.30pmOnline event - Booking

This will be a two-part webinar focusing on mental health and race, a space to talk and learn

A two-part webinar focusing on mental health and race, a space to talk and learn.  The first part will focus on reflective space to include an open environment to discuss cultural diversity and our wellbeing within our culture, learning together about what things can be helpful when it comes to maintaining our wellbeing.  Topics for the reflective space will include:

  • Stigma of mental health
  • What impact does our culture have on our mental health.
  • Ways of coping within our culture
  • Learning more about mental health

The second part of the webinar will be facilitated by mental health professionals from BAME backgrounds to focus on:

  • What is mental health?
  • What is low mood and anxiety?
  • Stressful situations- expectations and racism
  • Ways of being resilient
  • Where you can go for help and resources

My Mother’s Trunk Box with The Sew London Project CIC

(Supported through LBBD Cultural Commissioning)

Friday 29 October: 6pm to 9.30pmThe Broadway Theatre - BookingsIn Celebration of 2021 Black history month celebration, join us for a screening of documentary-film ' ’My Mother’s Trunk Box’’, produced by Creative Director of the Sew London project CIC, Kemi Oloyede. The film is a series of interviews with members of our local African and African Caribbean community: migrants, refugees and even children and grandchildren of the Windrush Generation. The interviewees talk about the ‘Trunk Box’, the memories the ‘Trunk Box’ evokes, its contents and significance to them personally.

Women in Leadership, Influential and Powerful Positions

Adanna Women’s Support Group – Monthly Meeting
Saturday 30 October, 10.30am to 12pmOnline event - BookingBME Women in Leadership positions can bring A lot of positive elements to an organisation, but most importantly a change to the narrative of leadership, influence and power. What can we do to empower other BAME women to get into leadership positions? How can this motivate a future generation of BME Leaders? Join us this month as we discuss the importance BAME women play in organisations and how can encourage a future generation of women leaders. For more info please email: adannawomensgroup@gmail.com


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)