Oxford City Council celebrating Black History Month

Published: Tuesday, 5th October 2021

The City Council, along with many Oxford organisations, will be putting the focus on the Black communities’ contributions to British life throughout October to celebrate Black History Month.

The Museum of Oxford reopens on 11 October, and exhibitions will include its permamnent Windrush Years exhibits, giving an insight into the Caribbean community in Oxford since the 1950s.

The council’s Youth Ambition team will use its regular youth clubs and activities to focus on Black History Month, including cultural activities and conversations about the experience of young Black people in Oxford.

The city’s Anti-Racism Charter will be reviewed at the end of October, one year on from its launch. Oxford is one of the first cities to create such a charter, initiated by the city council and also signed by a number of organisations, businesses, schools, community groups and members of the public. It is a commitment to challenge racism and the discrimination that is unknowingly built in to the ways many organisations operate.

The City Council will be using its social media channels to highlight local stories through the month, starting with Natty Mark Smauel’s African School. Natty Mark provides some of the only non-university African Studies opportunities in the city, aimed at people from all backgrounds with an interest to learn more.

Aside from the Council’s work, many other organisations and venues will be putting a focus on Black contributions to the UK this month. For a listing of gigs and events across Oxfordshire, or to delve into more Black history and culture in the UK, check out the Black History Month website.

“Black history is British history and it’s also Oxford’s history too. This month is when across the county the contribution of Black Britons is celebrated and marked in detail, and Oxford City Council is proud to do the same. There are hundreds of families of African, North African and Caribbean heritage who are also Oxonians and part of Oxford and our communities – business owners, teachers, care workers  parents, children, friends, the people we hold dear.  This month is an opportunity to shine a light on theses connections and the historical legacies of these ties that shape us and our communities and society now, from Oxford and Britain’s roots in empire, to colonialism and the movements for racial justice and equalities that have taken shape on the streets of our city, factory floors, community centres and living rooms, over many generations and across the country over many decades. 

“If it’s enjoying eating out on the Cowley Road, going to hear live music, or watching a football match, the vast contribution of Oxford and Britain’s Black communities can be seen everywhere. Food, music, the arts and sport are very visible and vital to a country’s identity, as is the historical legacy of the Windrush generation who came to work in Oxford’s car factory, on our trains and buses, in healthcare and other areas where then, as now, we needed skilled workers. This generation built Britain and its infrastructure. 

“Black history month is when we honour the people and communities who have shaped Oxford and Britain to be the city and country it is now. Alongside celebrating these huge achievements, we also stand in active solidarity calling for greater equalities and re commit ourselves to working towards creating a truly anti-racist city and county where all Black people can thrive and live with the same life opportunities and security as the rest of the population.”

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities