The biggest achievement of 2021 was working hard to create my FutureLearn Black Tudors course, which over 4,800 people have now signed up to. If you want to learn more about Africans in Tudor and early Stuart England, explore the original documents recording their lives, hear from a range of experts, and join the debate yourself, why not enrol for FREE now? Read all about it in this blog from July. There are some other great FutureLearn Black History courses too- I would recommend the Black Curriculum's Teaching Black British History course and the new Country Houses and the British Empire course designed by my director on the Colonial Countryside Project, Professor Corinne Fowler. FutureLearn is looking to expand its coverage in this area, so do let me/them know what courses you'd like to see/who should write them!
The ‘What’s Happening in Black British History?’ series I co-organise with Michael Ohajuru and Philip Murphy at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies went virtual for WHBBH Books in April 2021. You can read more about the event here, or catch up on the recordings here. We are now reviewing proposals for #WHBBHXIV, which will be the 14th workshop since we began the series back in 2014. As I live in North Wales, I’m excited that the event will be held at Bangor University on Saturday 14th May 2022 – save the date!
I've continued to work on my Teaching Black Tudors project to get the history of Africans in Early Modern England into the classroom. In October OUP published a new 'How Can We Find Out about the lives of Black Tudors?' enquiry, which you can download via Kerboodle. I gave a History Masterclass on Africans in Tudor and Stuart Westminster for Westminster Abbey, sadly this was virtual, but the silver lining is that you can watch the lecture and the Q&A online. It was exciting to see BBC Bitesize add a learner guide to Africans and their lives in Tudor England in November. In 2022, Hodder will be publishing a more comprehensive set of Black Tudors teaching resources, so watch this space!
My interest in getting Black British History into the classroom more generally, which I blogged about at length, with a list of practical suggestions, back in late 2020, led to several invitations in 2021. Highlights, which were recorded, so you can still watch online, were discussing "Should we decolonise education?" with Professor Kehinde Andrews for the CogX festival in June, and joining a panel organised by OUP on "Diversifying Your History Curriculum" with Janice Mansel-Chan, Emily Folorunsho and Aaron Wilkes in November.
I was delighted to be one of the judges for the 100 Great Black Britons Schools Competition, and am looking forward to assessing the entries for the Gallery of Living History Schools Competition this week. The winner will be announced at the end of January, and their design for ‘an artwork/statue that celebrates and commemorates an unsung person or people, living or dead, whose heroic story has never been properly told’ will be unveiled as part of the Coventry City of Culture celebrations in May.
I’ve been trying to avoid writing articles in order to focus on my Heiresses: The Caribbean Marriage Trade book, but I did take advantage of the hullabaloo around the casting of Jodie Turner-Smith as Anne Boleyn in the Channel 5 drama in June to draw attention to the real history of Africans in Tudor England. I was interviewed by several radio stations, as well as writing a piece in The Telegraph: Yes, there were black Tudors – and they lived fascinating lives. My only other publication in 2021 was this brief article on Africans in Britain, 1500-1800 for the Oxford African American Studies Center –which I hope provides a useful summary and further reading recommendations signposting the classics plus exciting new scholarship in the field.
I was interviewed for EPOCH magazine by Sophie Merrix, who excitingly is researching Black Stuarts for her PhD at Lancaster University, and as part of An Introduction to African and Afro-Diasporic Peoples and Influences in British Literature and Culture before the Industrial Revolution, an online open textbook published by Affordable Learning Georgia, with support from Savannah State University, which also features an interview with Dr. Onyeka Nubia.
After my experiences working with the National Trust as Lead Historian on the Colonial Countryside Project since 2018, I’ve been dismayed to see the ongoing biased and negative coverage of the National Trust’s Colonialism and Slavery Report which was published in September 2020. I was happy to speak to journalist Sam Knight about it all, and he published a refreshingly accurate piece in the New Yorker in August which is the best account I’ve read of the story – recommended reading!
I’ve done a few podcast interviews you might want to listen to: I spoke to Dr. Sam Willis for the Mariner's Mirror podcast about Africans in Tudor and Stuart Port Towns, and to Ryan Latto about Peter the Moor and other Africans at the Scottish Court on his Unearthed podcast, and to Moya Lothian MacClean about Elizabethan slaver John Hawkins on her Human Resources podcast series. I also spoke with Michael Ohajuru and Gretchen Gerzina about John Blanke’s portrait in the Westminster Tournament Roll for the Black Presence in British Portraiture podcast; the network also has a Facebook page for anyone interested in portraits of Africans in British Art.
It’s only while sitting down to write this that I’ve realised how much I actually did in 2021! I’ll end with a plea not to ask me to take on any new projects in 2022- I need to put all my energies into finishing writing my Heiresses: The Caribbean Marriage Trade book, which I hope will be published in 2023.
I hope you all have a happy and fulfilling year ahead, here's some things to to look forward to in 2022:
- ‘What’s Happening in Black British History? XIV’- Saturday 14th May at Bangor University
- Unveiling of the Gallery of Living History winning artwork in Coventry – May 2022
- Launch of Hodder Black Tudors teaching resources – 2022 date tbc
- and remember, the FREE online 6-week FutureLearn Black Tudors course is available to start anytime!