Black History Month 2020

At Royal Holloway 


Royal Holloway joins this national celebration each year, reflecting our own diversity but also recognising the inequalities that still exist. Schools and departments across the College will be holding virtual events and activities across the month, and working towards raising awareness throughout the year. Details of events, activities and resources can be found below, and we’ll update the list of events as they are confirmed throughout the month. Please email if you have any questions about specific events. 


Midweek Music - Spiritual Sounds

14th October, streaming at 1.15. [You can view a recording of the Spiritual Sounds performance here.] 

Hosted by the Choir of Royal Holloway

The choir of Royal Holloway explore arrangements of spirituals, as well as their history and issues surrounding contemporary performance. Director of Choral Music, Rupert Gough is in discussion with academic and musician Alexander Douglas about the history and development of spirituals, and how or if we should perform them today. 

Spiritual Sounds Promotion 14 October 2020



“Different doesn’t scare me” – in conversation with Mary Pierre-Harvey

15th October, starting at 5.30pm [access recording of 'Different doesn't scare me' event]

Hosted by the Cultural Diversity Network

In 2019, Mary Pierre-Harvey became the UK’s first black female director of estates at a large UK university, but throughout her career she has always championed and advocated for Black and BAME representation at senior levels. Not just a motivational speaker, Mary has influenced change at the highest levels, and will be speaking to us about her experience and sharing some tangible takeaways for those aspiring to senior leadership. You can access an interview with Mary Pierre-Harvey in the Times Higher Education 

 Spiritual Sounds Poster 14th October 2020


“Young, Gifted and Black” – discussion panel celebrating RHUL alumni

20th October, starting at 6pm [click to join event]

Hosted by the Careers Department

Join us for a fantastic line-up of speakers to celebrate Black History Month. We'll be talking about equality in the workplace as a young professional, how your heritage is a positive part of your career persona, why Black Lives Matter beyond October, and more! This is an important discussion that we want to share with you, so prepare for a lively debate and freedom to express your opinion.


'How can we decolonise the university without first decolonising Britain?'

22nd October, 6-7.30pm, [click to register]

Hosted by the History Society and members of the History Department at RHUL.

Join us for a presentation and discussion on the importance of 'decolonising' the university, along with how we can deal with Britain's colonial past and the impact it holds today.

We are joined by Professors Emily Manktelow and Shahmima Akhtar who will give us insight into the importance of trying to decolonise the study of history in Britain, and indeed, the legacy it has left.


We are here – introduction to the Cultural Diversity Network

22nd October, starting at 1pm [click to join event]

Hosted by the Royal Holloway Cultural Diversity Network

The Cultural Diversity Network at Royal Holloway was launched in 2016 to address the needs, priorities and concerns of both academic and professional members of staff at the College from diverse non-White ethnic groups. We are here to create a community for all staff, where we can connect with each other and feel a sense of belonging.

We’ll be hosting a virtual lunch that is open to all staff to find out more about the Network, hear about our current projects and meet colleagues! Bring your own refreshments!


'Black Lives, Black Words' rehearsed play readings

27th October, 7pm [Youtube link for Black Lives Black Words rehearsed play readings]

Hosted by The School of Performing and Digital Arts, in collaboration with The Centre for Contemporary British Theatre and The Student Workshop

The Student Workshop presents rehearsed readings of four short plays by Black Womxn from Black Lives, Black Words, an International theatre as activism project in which Black playwrights respond to the question: ‘Do Black Lives Matter Today?’ These plays explore how family members respond to the deaths of loved ones during or soon after contact with the police.

“So far Black Lives, Black Words has served two continents, three countries, seven cities, and have provided voice to over sixty writers, and have placed over 200+ actors on stage to help tell the world that, "Yes, Black Lives do MATTER!!!"”


Breaking Waves: Black Womxn in the Performing and Digital Arts - Selina Thompson

28th October, 5.15-6.30pm [Click to join event]

Hosted by The School of Performing and Digital Arts, in collaboration with The Centre for Contemporary British Theatre and The Student Workshop

Black Performance as Freedom Practice/Praxis: Selina Thompson introduces her work, career and approaches to making performance, tracing the implicit and explicit of both race and racism throughout. She discusses her research and development processes, and talks about what it is that makes Black Art and Performance feel like a space of freedom for her: the sociality of the rehearsal room, and of performances, even when it is a one person show, or she is the lead artist. She anticipates new works in development, and touches on some of the tensions of maintaining this freedom in her practice when often it has to go out into the world via the conditions it seeks to challenge. Her talk will be followed by a conversation about Black performance politics and practices with Professor Lynette Goddard.


Zodwa Nyoni, Nine Lives, Bridge Theatre

29th October (performance) [link for theatre ticket]

30th October 6pm (discussion) [link for MS teams discussion]

“Fleeing from his home where a fresh wave of homophobia threatens his life, Ishmael has sought sanctuary in the UK. Dispersed to Leeds, Ishmael waits to hear his fate, he waits for a new life to begin amongst strangers. But not everyone is bad… can he find a place to call home again?”

 A trip to watch the performance of Nine Lives on Thursday 29th October will be followed by an informal discussion with Lynette Goddard and Emma Cox on Friday 30th October at 6pm on MS Teams.


"Continuing the Conversation: Black Representation in the Performing Arts."

29th October, 6-7.30pm [click to access event]

Organised by Renee Lewis, Lauryn Pinard and Michael Fuller, students and alumni from Royal Holloway’s School of Performing Arts – Drama, Music and Media Arts.

Five months have passed since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, which catalysed a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement all around the world. Conversations about systemic racism, micro-aggressions, white privilege and the need for diversity and positive representation of BIPOC have been held, but these issues have been prevalent in society for decades; even centuries. It is vital that we continue these conversations. In this spirit, and in particular focus on the performing arts, students and alumni from Royal Holloway’s School of Performing Arts – Drama, Music and Media Arts – will be hosting an online event: “Continuing the Conversation: Black Representation in the Performing Arts”. Together with our special guests, we will be holding short musical and dramatic performances, and talk about our individual stories and shared experiences as we discuss these still-important questions:
- How are Black communities and voices represented in the UK performing arts?
- What are the specific challenges Black communities face in this field?
- How can we combat systematic racism against Black communities in the performing arts?
- How can we make the performing arts a more level playing field for participants in the UK?

Launch of the Mandala programme 2020/2021

The Mandala programme aims to support staff from ethnic minority backgrounds in their applications to senior roles within HE. The programme, which has a strong practical component, is not about ‘fixing internal shortcomings’. Mandala explores participants' authority and presence as a leader, and becoming even more impactful through “being you skilfully’. You can view further information on the Mandala course. 

"I feel as though I have found my voice and have already implemented this in meetings at work." 2018/19 participant.

If you are interested in booking a place on the course email Organisational Development.


Launch of guidance to support the mental health and wellbeing of People of Colour and Black people in the workplace. 

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th of October and the message from Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) is ‘Be your whole self’. As part of this campaign, MHFA have launched guidance to support the mental health and wellbeing of People of Colour and Black people in the workplace calling on employers to become actively anti-racist. 

 Further Links

Black History Month 2021

Black History Month 2019

Black History Month 2018

Black and Global Majority Staff Network