Black History, Black Futures (GALA International Black History Month)

Black History Month takes place in October in the United Kingdom and February in North America. As part of the Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA), Bath Spa University (U.K.) psychology professor Dr. Jermaine Ravalier devised the Black History Black Futures project "to focus on the experiences of prominent and ordinary black people in the UK, and on what we can all do to build a better future." Through GALA, events at Bath Spa will connect to SUNY Geneseo, Columbia College, and Claremont Graduate University, among other GALA institutions. SUNY Geneseo students will have access to over 15 events, live and prerecorded, and get to engage in shared discussion with their fellow students in the U.K. about anti-racist work within the university. A Bath Spa reading list on Race, Racism, and Protest is available and a SUNY Geneseo Center for Integrative Learning reading list on Decolonizing Academic Success is also available.

Zoom links for all livestreamed events will follow closer to event date. For past events, see the IBHM YouTube playlist.

10/1 4-5pm EST (9pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Dr. Nicholas Buccola, "The Great Debate: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr. and the Struggle for the American Soul"

Nicholas Buccola, Elizabeth & Morris Glicksman Chair in Political Science at Linfield College, will be giving a lecture entitled "The Great Debate: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Struggle for the American Soul."  The lecture will be based on his book The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, about the 1965 Cambridge debate between these two writers.  Further information and additional details on The Great Debate: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Struggle for the American Soul. This event is supported by the Jack Miller Center.

10/2 7-8am EST (12pm GMT): Prerecorded Talk: Manoel Akure - Ordinary Black people doing extraordinary things 

Watch the Prerecorded Talk: Manoel Akure - Ordinary Black people doing extraordinary things.

Also known as 'The Guy with the Red Hat', Manoel Akure was the person pictured stood atop the Colston statue's plinth in Bristol after it was brought down. Manoel and Jermaine discuss what the toppling of the statue means, and the international reverberations the act has had. Manoel also discusses why he decided to say a prayer to the gathered masses on top of the plinth, what Black Lives Matter means to him, and many other things in between.

10/8 1-2.30pm EST (6pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Chante Joseph: Race & Black Lives Matter

Chante Joseph is a presenter (most recently of Channel 4's How Not To Be Racist), social media creative, and journalist. This question and answer session will focus on race in Chante's work in the media, journalism and TV, and in particular what improvements need to be made to support a greater diversity of talent coming through these occupations. Chante will discuss Black Lives Matter as a concept, its strengths and controversies, and the intersection between race and class...among many other topics.

10/9 7-8am EST (12pm GMT): Prerecorded Talk: Kai Phillip - Ordinary Black people doing extraordinary things

Watch the Prerecorded Talk: Kai Phillip - Ordinary Black people doing extraordinary things from 10/9.

Kai Phillip is co-founder of Fix8 Rollerdisco. Fix8 was started by a group of passionate skaters and has turned into a hub for the growing underground roller skating community in London and beyond. Providing a safe and fun environment for people of all ages, races and backgrounds to share their passion and develop friendships and keep fit. Roller skating is a great form of exercise and social activity but to those who skate its much more than that. When we put our skates on and the music is playing, we really feel free to express ourselves through our movement. It’s so therapeutic.

10/12 1-2.30pm EST (6pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Shingi Mararike

Shingi Mararike is a News Reporter for The Sunday Times. His talk will cover his journey from a single-parent home in inner city London, to becoming the first ever apprentice at one of Britain's most prestigious newspapers. He'll also share advice on making it into journalism, as well as exploring the importance of having a truly representative national media.

10/13 1-2.30pm EST (6pm GMT): GALA-wide Book Club: Angela Saini's Superior: The Return of Race Science

This event welcomes students and staff from Bath Spa University, and our GALA partner institutions Claremont Graduate University and SUNY Geneseo to discuss Angela Saini's book Superior: The Return of Race Science. The international book club event will start virtually at 6pm GMT / 1pm EST on October 13th, with a live author event on the 15th). Fill out the Book Club Sign Up Form.

10/14 1-2pm EST (6pm GMT): Dr. Enenge A'Bodjedi, guide and interpreter
Dr. A'Bodjedi will talk about his role as guide and interpreter for NYĒTĒTI (the artist/actor formerly known as Samuel L. Jackson) during the actor/activist's work on a six-part Enslaved docuseries on human trafficking. Dr. A'Bodjedi served during the UKEHANO (Welcoming Home Celebration) and UPAPO (Death-Rebirth and Purification Ceremony) among the BENGA people in EBENJE YA BOKUDA BWA NGWALO, IKUMEMBONGO (Cap Esterias, Gabon). Dr. A'Bodjedi will be introduced by Dr. Susana Castillo-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of Spanish at SUNY Geneseo. Watch a recording of the event: Dr. Enenge A'Bodjedi, guide and interpreter.
10/15 1-2.30pm EST (6pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Angela Saini: Science, Race and Power

Racial categories feel tangible, but as we know from genetics, they are no more rooted in biology than they were hundreds of years ago when they were arbitrarily invented by European scientists who were affected by the politics of their time. Yet scientific myths about human difference live on today in disturbing ways. As ethnic nationalism rises around the world, race science is experiencing a revival on the far-right, fueled by the abuse of data and facts by politically-motivated groups. Even well-intentioned scientists, through their lazy use of old-fashioned categories, inappropriately imply that race has some innate basis. We forget to our cost that race was never about biology but always about power.

10/16 1-2pm EST (6pm GMT): Virtual Walk-and-Talk: Dr. Shawn Sobers

Dr Shawn Sobers is an academic from the University of West England (Bristol) and a trustee of Fairfield House in Bath. In this video, Shawn will give a walk-and-talk around Fairfield House, in Bath. Fairfield House is a listed building in Bath, UK, and was the home for Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, during his years in exile.

10/21 1-2.30pm EST (6pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Dr. Sado Jirde: Black Futures: An Uncomfortable Truth

Differences in power manifest in asymmetrical access – a privilege which continues to run along racial lines. Under its cosmopolitan surface, our society remains racialized in its structure and its power dynamics. Much like its historic form, it has a heart of Whiteness. It is an emulation of a template that already existed and was established by the oppressors who now seek ‘inclusion’ of the oppressed using the systems established by the former dominator. How do you develop community organizations using these same processes? The values that these organizations extol and espouse are the values of the oppressor and working within these templates does not create equitable outcomes for Black people. Black futures must therefore involve the creation of alternative solutions and spaces. Spaces which do not seek to privilege certain groups over others but seek to center Black voices, change the template, and create alternative spaces for Black people to thrive. 

10/21 2.30-3.45pm EST (7.30pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Rachel DeGuzman, "The Urgency of Centering Blackness in Arts and Culture"

Rachel DeGuzman will share her journey to foster equity, confront racism in arts and culture; and center Black voices and perspectives - through her collaborative work at the intersection of art and social justice. She is driven by the urgency to work in alignment with other Black people who are unapologetically focused on disrupting anti-Blackness in our community.

Rachel Y. DeGuzman is the award-winning founder and executive director of 21st Century Arts, Inc., as well as the founder of WOC ART COLLABORATIVE. The focus of her work is decentering whiteness in arts/culture by centering the art, narratives, and voices of people of color. In fulfillment of that vision, Rachel established The Black House arts and culture space and “At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art” and Justice, an initiative presented by 21st Century Arts. Since it launched , “At the Crossroads” has produced over 44 Long Table Conversations and Installations. Her current work culminated from a traditional career in professional arts with the intent to produce work more rooted in both art and community - that values experimentation, innovation, creativity in all its forms, social justice, and equity.

10/22 1.30-2.30pm EST (6.30pm GMT): David Olusoga: Making Black History Accessible for All Ages

Supported by the Writing for Young People Research Group (and/or MA in Writing for Young People), David Olusoga OBE will talk about making black history accessible for all. David has a long and distinguished career as a producer, writer and broadcaster, and has been awarded several BAFTAs. As well as presenting landmark BBC television shows including Civilisations and A House through Time, David has written a number of best-selling books and has recently adapted Black and British for middle grade and YA audiences. He has also consulted on fiction projects for young people, including the recent TV adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. In this conversation with Deep Sehgal, writer/executive producer and current MA WFYP student, David will discuss the specific challenges of bringing black history to life, both for young people and mainstream audiences.

10/23 1-2pm EST (6pm GMT): Prerecorded Talk: Wayne Reid - Ordinary Black people doing extraordinary things

Wayne Reid is a Professional Officer for the British Association of Social Workers England and lives in Sheffield. Wayne qualified as a social worker in 2010, but the entirety of his social care experience spans nearly 20 years. He has worked in: private fostering; the Probation Service; youth offending; adult mental health; child protection and with care leavers. As a black male social worker, Wayne understands some of the challenges that service-users and practitioners from different ethnic minority groups can face. From his experience, Wayne believes academic and ‘life education’ are essential to improve an individual’s quality of life and life chances. Wayne and Jermaine are joined by Diana Katoto, a social work student at the University of Birmingham. Together they discuss racism in the UK in general (for example, Google Wayne's work on the KCMG medal) and in social work as a profession. They discuss Black History Month (should this even be a thing...?), Black Lives Matter (shouldn't it be 'all lives matter'?) and how to ensure equality for all across the UK.

10/23 4-5.15pm EST (9pm-10.15pm GMT): Documentary and Talkback: Clarissa Uprooted: Youth and Elders Uncover the Story of Black Rochester

Teen Empowerment and the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee present their documentary, produced by RCTV, Clarissa Uprooted: Youth and Elders Uncover the Story of Black Rochester. Clarissa Uprooted depicts the Third Ward as a microcosm of Rochester’s, and many northern US cities’, history – from neighborhood comradery, international jazz music and thriving black-owned businesses, to redlining, urban renewal, and other racist policies. “Clarissa St. was the foundation of Afro-Rochester,” says Dr. David Anderson, founding member of Blackstorytelling League, and of Akwaaba: the Heritage Associates, which shares African American lore across the United States and Ghana. The talkback will feature some of the elders who lived this history and the youth who are living with the consequences today, including members of Teen Empowerment's Youth History Ambassadors Project.

10/26 2-3pm EST (6pm GMT): Livestream Talk: Kelechi Okafor: Blackness, Anger & Social Change

In this talk Kelechi Okafor will explore the Angry Black Woman narrative and why it is a trope that can be dismantled by reclaiming anger. "While there are people who are fearful of the anger that has led people out into the streets to protest, I welcome it. For centuries, black people have been stereotyped by society as ‘angry’, leaving little room for us to truly be honest about why, of all adjectives, ‘angry’ was one that was placed upon us. The anger we are seeing today is a valid expression of hurt that’s resulted from centuries of slavery, colonisation and systemic and institutional oppression. In 2020, it took the UK government’s (mis)handling of a pandemic, plus another case of police brutality to get us all to decide that enough is in fact enough.” - Kelechi Okafor (British Vogue 2020)

10/28 2-3.30pm EST (6pm GMT): Gloria Willingham-Touré: Growing up in a segregated America, and the Civil Rights movement

Dr. Willingham-Touré (ne’ Nelson) was born during the Jim Crow Era of legalized racial segregation in the United States. Subsequently she grew up in all Black communities and rarely had any contact with White persons, nor with any other races. At the age of 14 she was selected as one of four Black students to enter the newly desegregated and history-making Little Rock Central High School(LRCHS). Black students entering LRCHS after the nationally televised historic entrance of The Little Rock Nine, entered without the protections of the national guard or the watchful eyes of the media. She and the three other Black students who entered LRCHS in 1960 as tenth graders became the first cohort group of Black students to remain at this “White” school for three consecutive years to graduation. Dr. Willingham-Toure’s Life story is archived at The Center For Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton. as a part of the 2018 Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project. She is currently the Executive Director- Afram Global Organization Inc and Founder of The “Village P.r.o.j.e.c.t.s.” Her presentations are consistent with the Village P.r.o.j.e.c.t.s. Mission:“To create environments in which persons from diverse circumstances and experiences can come together and co-learn with each other in a way that bridges the opportunity gaps, retains the respective cultures, and ultimately benefits society.” ( will discuss her life growing up in a segregated United States, her work with the Civil Rights movement, and her current work, followed by questions and discussions with the audience.

You can subscribe to the GALA International Black History Month Google Calendar. For wider information about SUNY Geneseo's "Becoming an Anti-Racist College" project, please click this link.