Black History Month

Every year, Brookes Union runs Black History Month as part of our commitment to representing black students at Brookes, decolonising the curriculum, promoting black history, culture and role models.

Events

30 days of Activism and Allyship

We have put together 30 days of activism and education content for you to engage with. This ranges from podcasts and reading lists, to online workshops and events!

Head over to our Instagram to check them out

Get involved

The Black Students' Network and the BIPOC Network have been set up specifically to get black and indigenous voices heard across the University. We are your union and we want to empower you by providing support and championing the issues you face, challenging the University wherever injustice exists.

Black Excellence - Historical Figures

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde

Lorde was a prominent civil rights activist, feminist. She had a huge contributions to the feminist theory, and had a hand in expanding the meaning to include black women, and women of colour. Lorde was a talented writer, using her talents as a poet, novelist and essayist to speak out against sexism, racism and homophobia, all of which she had to face in her lifetime.

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights. Rustin was a gay man, who had been arrested, early in his career, for engaging in public sex. Due to criticism over his sexuality, he usually acted as an influential adviser behind the scenes to civil-rights leaders. In the 1980s, he became a public advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ causes, speaking at events as an activist and supporter of human rights. Earlier in life Rustin was highly active in the civil rights movement with a number of organisations that he had helped lead. Rustin even helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen Martin Luther King Jr.'s leadership and teaching King about nonviolence; he later served as an organizer for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott

Abbott is a British politician who has been a Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987 being re-elected in every general election since. She served as the Labour party's Shadow Home Secretary from 2016 to 2020. The first black woman elected to Parliament, she is the longest-serving black MP in the House of Commons. She has faced disproportionate sexism and racism as a public figure, individually receiving almost half of all abusive tweets directed at women MPs during the 2017 election campaign.

Ernestine Eckstein

Ernestine Eckstein

Ernestine Eckstein was a trailblazer within the LGBTQ+ movement. At the age of 24 Eckstein was serving as VP of the NY chapter of the Daughter of Billitis, a lesbian rights organization. Her influence helped the DOB move away from negotiating with medical professionals and towards tactics of public demonstrations. Her understanding of, and work in, the Civil Rights Movement lent valuable experience on public protest to the lesbian and gay movement.

Fredrick Douglass

Fredrick Douglass

Douglass was an escaped slave turned civil rights activities, and globally recognised abolitionist. He fought for racial equality, even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, right until he died in 1865. Despite the limited education that was provided to him, he wrote 5 autobiographies detailing his life in captivity, which helped garner sympathy for the abolitionist and their cause.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender black woman, and one of the greatest activists for the LGBTQ+ community by being one of the leading figures in the Stonewall Riots in 1969. She was imperative to the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community as she was one of the first people to fight back by throwing bricks at the cops, along with Sylvia Rivera, and encouraged people to fight the injustice that was happening to them. She was imperative to the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community, as if it wasn’t for her and her contribution to Stonewall, pride as we know it might not exist.

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

Since the age of 12 Seacole has dedicated her life to helping the sick and the wounded. She travelled the world and used her traditional medicine, as well as western medicine, to help victims of war and disease. During the Crimean War, where she set up The British Hotel, a place where sick and wounded soldiers could seek help, and she travelled to the Carribean and South America to help victims during the Cholera and Yellow Fever epidemics in 1850. She was praised heavily during her time for her skills, and her influence was equal to that of Florence Nightingale.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, writer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. Her words have left an imprint on the minds of generations. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Her most notable publication ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ challenges the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing and expanding the genre. Her status as a black female writer at the time made the work so unique as she was one of the first to o publicly discuss her personal life.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Ali was an exceptional athlete, often describing himself as ‘the greatest boxer of all time’ and rightfully so. He was also a influential civil rights activist, receiving praise and recognition even from Martin Luther King, and he also spoke out against the Vietnam War. He believed the war was wrong, and refused to go when he was drafted and encouraged other men to do the same.

Nina Simone

Nina Simone

Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles. She advocated for not only civil rights but also feminism. She exposed the eurocentric appearance standards imposed on black women in America through her music. For example her song ‘I Put a Spell on You’ that the purpose of the song was to inspire black women to define beauty and identity for themselves without the influence of societal impositions.

Phill Wilson

Phill Wilson

Phill Wilson is an American activist who founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999, and served as its CEO, and is a prominent African-American HIV/AIDS activist. The majority of the United States believed that AIDS was a gay disease, and outreach was primarily focused in white, gay communities, when Wilson believed that AIDS affected the black community much more.When his partner died of an HIV-related illness in 1989,Wilson channeled his grief into activism.

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges

She was the first African American to go to an all white school. This was a major advancement for the civil rights movement as it lead to integration being normalised, and with that better access to good education for African American students. That was only 60 years ago, and Ruby is still alive today.

Sir Learie Constantine

Sir Learie Constantine

A West Indiancricketer, lawyer and politician who served as Trinidad's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and became the UK's first black pee in 1969. An advocate against racial discrimination, in later life he was influential in the passing of the 1965 Race Relations Act in Britain. He was knighted in 1962 .