Black History Month

Black History Month runs throughout October celebrating the culture, history and achievements that Black African and Caribbean people have brought to the United Kingdom

Black History Month logo

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

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.

Events are being held across Barking and Dagenham and online.  This interactive map will show you the events happening in the borough as well as the table below.

There will also be children’s activities focusing on Black History Month. Visit our what's on page to find out more about what’s going on at your local library or children’s centre.





Flag raising for Nigerian Independence Day

Town Hall Square, 1 Clockhouse Ave, Barking IG11 7LU

30 September 2022


Flag raising for Black History Month

Town Hall Square, 1 Clockhouse Ave, Barking IG11 7LU

3 October 2022


Colonial Heritage Talk by Simone Panayi and Mark Watson Eastbury Manor House, Eastbury Square, Barking IG11 9SN 5 October 2022 4pm to 5:30pm

The History of Soul

A celebration of Soul music through the decades.

The Broadway Theatre, Barking IG11 7LS

8 October 2022

7:30pm to 9:45pm

Annual Black Music History Quiz

The Boathouse Café and Bar, The Granary Building, 80 Abbey Rd, Barking IG11 7BT

15 October 2022


Valerie Brandes, Found & Publishing Director of Jacaranda Books in conversation with Georgina Brown, Manager of the Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation


17 October 2022

6:30pm to 7:45pm

Adanna’s Women’s Support Group – Your Health & Wealth Workshop.

Workshop on health inequalities and the impact it has on our wealth and finances.

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

22 October 2022

10:30am to 2pm

Future Youth Zone’s Community Day: Black History Month

Enjoy fun games, delicious food, exciting performances, and all sort of activities. Everyone is welcome.

Future Youth Zone, 201-225 Porters Avenue, Dagenham, Essex, RM9 5YX

22 October 2022

11am to 4pm

Dagenham Eagles Celebrates Black History Month in Dagenham Heathway Library

Free event for all ages. Live string music by ELSOM, community workshops and ethnic food tasters.

Dagenham Library, 1 Church Elm Ln, Dagenham, RM10 9QS 22 October 2022 2pm to 4:30pm

Event with Iroko Theatre (drop-in)

Free event for all and includes African storytelling, music, and culture.

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

23 October 2022

2pm to 3pm

Excel Women's Centre: HER DYNAMIC PART IIII: HER SURVIVAL In partnership with KAYD Somali Week

A night of theatre, music, social good to celebrate Black History Month.

The Broadway Theatre, Barking IG11 7LS

27 October 2022

5pm to 10:30pm

Jordan’s Demeanours Exhibition

Barking Learning Centre will be hosting an exhibition of the history of UK gospel music since The Windrush, showcasing materials drawn from the book Jordan’s Demeanours by Isaac Odeniran. This is exhibition is open to all. Check out our libraries page for opening times.

The Jordan's Demeanour Project is a Heritage Lottery-funded project which conducted research into black history and the history of Black Gospel Music in the United Kingdom since 1948. The exhibition materials consist of remarkable achievements by black people in Politics, Business, Sports and Music.

Hall of Fame

Please note the below Hall of Fame was compiled in 2019, recognising people’s achievements and contributions to the borough at the time. The biographies and information were correct at the time of publishing.

Hall of fame

Black History Month hall of fame

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.