Black History Month 2021 is being marked across the University and Colleges with a series of events and activities. Art exhibitions, spoken word events, panel discussions and more will explore the experiences of the past and the challenges faced today. Some of the events taking place at Cambridge are highlighted here:

From October

Newnham students portrait exhibition
Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DF

To mark Black History Month and its 150th anniversary, Newnham College is holding an exhibition of Black students' portraits in the Iris Café. This new portrait collection was commissioned by Newnham students, supported by the College’s Curator Laura Dennis. 
The portraits are by award-winning British-Barbadian photographer Myah Jeffers, who worked with the students to create a display that challenges the traditional academic portrait.
The exhibition and the café are open to the public. The Iris Café is open 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday, and the exhibition itself can be visited during the weekend too. 
More information here.

Phenomenal Women – portrait exhibition
Great St Mary’s Church and Senate House Yard, King’s Parade, Cambridge 

A public portrait exhibition honouring Britain’s Black women professors will be on display in Cambridge from 7 October 2021.
Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors features 45 photographs and biographies of inspiring Black women academics, including award-winning author Bernadine Evaristo, poet and playwright Joan Anim-Addo, and the first woman ever to be appointed head of a UK dental school, Cynthia Pine. It was commissioned and curated by Dr Nicola Rollock, Senior Adviser (Race & Higher Education) to the University of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor, and was first shown at London’s Southbank Centre in 2020.
More information here.

Throughout October

Exhibition of the works of Black alumni and students
St Catharine’s College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL

The Shakeshaft Library, at St Catharine’s College, will showcase the works of Black alumni and students.

Downing’s Early Black Cantabs
Downing College, Regent Street, Cambridge CB2 1DQ

Archive exhibition celebrating Downing College’s early black students, dating back more than 100 years. This exhibition shares research carried out in support of the Black Cantabs Research Society by the College Archivist.
Online exhibition here.
The exhibition in the Maitland Robinson Library, Regent Street, is still available by appointment, although access is currently limited due to COVID-19. Please contact the College Archivist, Jenny Ulph, for more information or to arrange to see the exhibition.

Friday 1 October & Sunday 31 October 

Flying the flag of The Bahamas
St Catharine’s College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL

The College will fly the flag of The Bahamas to commemorate its earliest known Black student, Alfred F. Adderley CBE. More information here.

Wednesday 6 October

Hughes Hall social night, 5pm-8pm  
Hughes Hall, Cambridge CB1 2EW

A Black History Month social night will be an opportunity for the College community to socialise and get to know each other better. For more information, email

Wednesday 20 October

Panel discussion, 6pm-7pm
Lucy Cavendish College, Lady Margaret Road, Cambridge CB3 0BU

Alumnae discuss their lived experiences at Lucy Cavendish College, in Cambridge and the world outside. Chairing the panel is Mayoma Ekeruche (Engineering, 2005), who is joined alongside Gita Khalili Moghaddam (Biotechnology, 2012), Meera Mahadevan (Medical & Veterinary Sciences, 2004) and Sanchita Pal (Anthropology, 2002).

This virtual event will take place as part of Black History Month, in conjunction with the College's 'Catalyst' series.

More information here.

Thursday 21 October

Master’s Lodge event with David Dabydeen 
Selwyn College, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DQ

Roger Mosey will be hosting a Master’s Lodge event over Zoom with Selwyn alumnus and Honorary Fellow David Dabydeen. 

Friday 22 October

Hughes Hall Formal Hall, 7pm-11pm
Hughes Hall, Cambridge CB1 2EW

Black History Month Formal Hall, hosted by Dr Othman Cole, Hughes Hall Fellow and Race Equality Champion. For more information, email

Open Mic Night/Poetry Readings
Selwyn College, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DQ

This event will be similar to previous JCR open mic nights and, depending on COVID regulations, will either be carried out in the JCR, MCR or College bar. 

Panel discussion: This too, is Cambridge, 5.30pm to 7pm
Selwyn College, Grange Road, Cambridge CB3 9DQ

The University’s Race Equality Network is hosting a special panel discussion centred on the experiences of Black staff at the University of Cambridge, with a range of voices from libraries, colleges and departments.

Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College
Professor Franklin Aigbirhio, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Senior Research Fellow at Magdalene College
Jennifer Skinner, African Studies Library Manager
Dr Kenny Monrose, Department of Sociology, Fellow at Wolfson College

5pm to 5.30pm - Meet and greet with tea and pastries
5.30pm to 5.35pm - Welcome and introduction, Dr Rabia Dada-Oughton (Co-chair, Race Equality Network)
5.35pm to 6.15pm - Panel discussion
6.15pm to 7pm - Audience Q&A
7pm - 8pm - Drinks reception with canapés

More information here.

Saturday 23 October

Spoken word event and Q&A
St Catharine’s College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL

Spoken word event and Q&A with Malik Al Nasir, St Catharine's College postgraduate student and author of Letters to Gil (2021, William Collins) More information here.

Sunday 24 October

Choral Evensong
St Catharine’s College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RL

Choral Evensong service live-streamed from the Chapel at St Catharine’s College, featuring the works of Black composers of traditional Anglican choral music, and guest speaker Chine McDonald, alumna and author of God Is Not a White Man: And Other Revelations (2021, Hachette). More information here.

Thursday 28 October

2021 Annual Race Equality Lecture

Understanding Inequality Through an Intersectional Lens: The Case of Covid in the US

Professor Mary Romero (School of Social Transformation, Arizona State University) will discuss the complexities of social inequalities, looking at Covid in the US.

Professor Romero will be introduced by the Pro-Vice Chancellor, University Community and Engagement, Professor Kamal Munir. Following the lecture, the Q&A will be chaired by the University Race and Inclusion Champions Professor Esra Özyürek (Faculty of Divinity) and Dr Ali Meghji (Department of Sociology).

Professor Mary Romero is a renowned American sociologist who received multiple awards and honors for her work on social inequalities, including the Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award (2017), Latina/o Sociology Section Founders Award (2015), Julian Samora Distinguished Career Award (2012), the Section on Race and Ethnic Minorities Founder’s Award (2009), and the Study of Social Problems Lee Founders Award (2004). Professor Romero served as the 110th President of the American Sociological Association and was selected as the 2021 Sociologists for Women in Society Distinguished Feminist Lecturer. Professor Romero is the author of 'Introducing Intersectionality' (Polity Press, 2018), 'The Maid’s Daughter: Inside and Outside the American Dream' (NYU, 2011), 'Maid in the U.S.A.' (NYU, 1992) and numerous articles in social science and law journals.

Book your place here

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