Your local guide to Black History Month 2022

From theatre and dance to talks, concerts and docudramas, we bring you the best of Black History month in the East End.

Black History Month is back this October, with the theme: ‘Time for change: Action not words.’

Though Black history should be celebrated every month of the year, the festival gives us a chance to think deeply, learn, and share the histories, stories, and experiences of our Black British community in East London. 

And what better way to do so than through literature, poetry, music, and theatre? 

With a rich variety of local activities to get involved in, read on for some of our top picks.


Born of good intentions: Black Victorian children in a Barnado’s home


Thomas Barnado is well known for his ragged schools, but did you know that they were the first charities in the UK to take Black children in during Victorian times? Come and learn about the experiences of these children. Who were they? What happened to them? How did they come to England? All your questions will be answered at an online talk hosted by Avril’s Walks and Talks. Book a £5 ticket here.

This is an online event. 

Black History & Mental Health in Tower Hamlets at the Library & Archives


Tower Hamlets African and Caribbean Mental Health Organisation (THACMHO) are hosting an all-day workshop exploring the connections between Black history and mental health, including pop-up exhibitions and highlights from Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives on display. The event will include a Caribbean buffet lunch, with guest speakers and panel discussions about local community development work in the 1980s and mental health. Register for this free workshop. 

Address: 277 Bancroft Rd, Bethnal Green, E1 4DQ

The Poets’ Corner at Canary Wharf


A new speakers’ corner is launching for Black History Month at Canary Wharf featuring four performances by spoken word artists and poets. Each poem has been chosen to encourage listeners to share their own stories and experiences in the spirit of Speakers’ Corner, and members of the audience are encouraged to take to the stage and perform. See a list of performers here.

Address: Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf, E14


The Three Dumas docudrama at Brady Arts Centre


A docudrama about the life of Alexandre Dumas, French author of ‘The Three Musketeers,’ his father whom Napoleon Bonaparte sought to erase from history and his grandfather. Ever wanted to meet your heroes? The screening will be followed by a discussion of what might be if young minds had known of them and other ‘giants’ of Black African descent. Both viewings are free to attend. Find out more.

Address: Brady Arts & Community Centre, 192-196, Hanbury St, London E1 5HU

Black Girl at Genesis Cinema


Genesis Cinema’s extensive programme for Black History (Every) Month does not disappoint. Coming to your screens on the 29 October is Black Girl, a 1996 film about a Senegalese woman aspiring for a better life who takes a job as a governess for a French family. And guess what? Free tickets are available for Tower Hamlets residents – find out more info & how to claim yours. 

Address: 93-95 Mile End Rd, Bethnal Green, E1 4UJ

Workshops & Masterclasses

Songwriting masterclasses with Jordan O at Poplar Union


Join East London singer-songwriter, Jordon O, for a series of songwriting masterclasses to unlock your inner lyricist and create your own unique sound in a celebration of Black History Month. After three sessions of learning the art of songwriting, you will be invited to showcase your work to family and friends at Poplar Union. See more details and booking info here. 

Address: 2 Cotall St, London E14 6TL 

Song of Africa BHM programme at Grand Union Orchestra


Led by Grand Union artists born or brought up in countries across Africa, Song of Africa begins with informal evenings of music and conversations, where audiences can bring along their own music and stories, and learn about the continent’s postcolonial history. Half term workshops follow, also exploring African musical traditions, and participants in both programmes will be invited to join professional musicians in a final performance at St John on Bethnal Green Church. Check their website for more info. 

Song of Africa workshops will be held at St John on Bethnal Green Church, 200 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA.

Half term workshops will be held at The Tramshed, Globe Town, E2 0LS.

Power & Glory photography exhibition at Brady Arts Centre 


Alternative Arts presents a collection of dynamic and diverse contemporary black photographers exploring history and identity. The free exhibition, running for the majority of the month, demonstrates new perspectives in photography and is inspired by topics such as gender equality, climate change, carnival and courage. See the full list of photographers.

Address: Brady Arts & Community Centre, 192-196, Hanbury St, London E1 5HU

Arawelo’s Women of Culture at Mayfield House


Run by the Women’s Inclusive Team, this event features an exhibition showcasing a six-month Somali youth-led project focusing on crime. The exhibition shares and explores the culture and history of the Somali community, complete with Somali food, refreshments, dancing and poetry. It promises to be quite the celebration. Entry is free but be sure to book your space. 

Address: Mayfield House 202 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9LJ

Arts & Culture

Somali Books festival at Oxford House


As part of the Somali Week Festival, discover new books from across the continent at this gathering of Somali authors to showcase their work and discuss it with visitors, giving the audience unrivalled access to the latest publications. All Somali writers who have published books are welcome to set up a stall at this lively annual book launch, including novels, books of critical thinking, memoirs and everything in between. Buy your tickets here.  

Address: Derbyshire St, Bethnal Green, E2 6HG

Black History Month Celebration at St Pauls Old Ford


Learn how to make bath products, decorate your own tote bag, have a head massage with a Reiki Master and hear tips and tricks on budgeting this winter. You can do all that and more at St Paul Old Ford on Saturday 29 October, rounding off Black History Month in style. Not to mention a sing along Karaoke session with all the best tunes, past and present. Full details are listed here. 

Address: St Paul Old Ford, St Stephen’s Road Bow, E3 5JL

Music & Theatre

Essentially Black at Poplar Union


Purple Moon Drama youth arts organisation brings you Essentially Black, a new play from Naomi Denny. Following the experiences of two students struggling to survive in a system not created for them, Essentially Black asks what happens when race and elite universities collide. Followed by a post-show workshop, audience members are invited to unpack the themes of authenticity and representation explored by the play. This one will be popular so book it while you can. 

Address: 2 Cotall St, London E14 6TL 

Duugsi at Rich Mix


Following on from their former success, Kayd Somali Arts and Culture and Side eYe come together again to bring you Duugsi, a brand new play for 2022. This comedy is based on a group of teens who, upon discovering their Islamic studies teacher is missing, entertain themselves by telling famous Somali urban legends with their own modern twist. Buy your tickets now. 

Address: 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA


African dance workshops at Tower Hamlets’ Carers Centre


This African ART of dance workshop is designed to give respite to unpaid carers to energise and enlighten them this October. Delivered by award winning African dance troupe ADANTA, sessions will take place every Wednesday of the month with the last workshop showing the dance routines and drumming they learnt to the community. Find out more on the Tower Hamlets website

Location: 21 Bayford Square Commercial Road E1 0SG, The Carers Centre

ACTing Up! The Dancers Takeover at Rich Mix


BBC’s Sir Ashley J returns to host the improvised comedy game show: ACTing Up. This time,  dance company Boy Blue is bringing two teams of dancers to battle it out at Rich Mix, creating themed routines, scenes, and songs based on audience suggestions with no rehearsal. All judged by you. Tickets include afterparty entry – find them here. 

Address: 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA

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One thought on “Your local guide to Black History Month 2022

  • Excellent initiative. Keeping the stories local make them effective and relatable. This should work out as an exciting journey of discovery adding even more layers to our rich and complex (hisotrpy) history. Sorry the back key isnt working since I sprayed the keyboard with cleaning fluid.


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