The discussion around racial inequality and discrimination has come into sharp focus over the past year. As Black History Month begins, it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on, learn and celebrate what makes Leicester such a rich, diverse and vibrant city.

With a programme of exhibitions, discussions, films, workshops and performances running across the city, this year also marks a number of anniversaries for the black community. It has been 230 years since the Haitian Revolution and 95 years since the first history week looking at black people in the USA, not to mention 50 years since the debut of the Blaxploitation genre (but more on that later).

Exhibitions and launch event

Held at the Chapel Gallery, Black History Month organisers Serendipity hold a private view of their new exhibition AfroManifesto, with works by black artists. You can also pick up their BlackInk magazine, which focuses n black arts, heritage and cultural politics. On Sunday 3 October pop along to the Corah Courtyard for Hip Hip And We Don’t Stop, a family event where you can learn about the five pillars of hip hop, try out breakdancing, and get your T shirt and trainers customised and enjoy live DJs and MCs.

This isn’t the only exhibition to enjoy during October. At the Y, from 4-29 October, the free Black Lives Matter Too! exhibition features local people sharing the effect that discrimination has had on their lives and aims to open a dialogue about racism and issues around the Black Lives Matter movement.

Blaxploitation and black cinema

It is also 50 years since the invention of the Blaxploitation genre and Phoenix cinema is hosting a special season showing some of the classics. Shaft, Foxy Brown, Cleopatra Jones and Blacula were some of the first feature films made by black directors and crews and to have strong black lead characters.

Leicester Cathedral are also joining in with Black History Month with a screening of Marvel’s Black Panther and the Black Lives Leicester film fest in association with DMU is showing Summer of Soul and Karen in drive-in style at Corah Works on 2 October.

On 19 October Serendipity are celebrating the life and legacy of director Menelik Shabazz including a screening of her film Burning an Illusion. This was only the second British feature film made by a black woman and blazed a trail for other filmmakers.

On stage

On Thursday 14 October, 2Funky Arts invites you to the premiere of their LC Hip-Hop History documentary and FREE showcase event, featuring live performances from local artists! This documentary explores Leicester’s Hip-Hop scene from the early 80s onwards and includes footage from their LC Hip-Hop History; a four week project exploring the vibrant heritage of Black arts in Leicester through DJing, MCing, Dance and Graffiti.

On 23 October the Comedy of Black Origin Shutdown comes to the Y Theatre, featuring acts including Kane Brown, Annette Fagon and Kat B. This is a Black History Month special that comes with a bang! The brand new Big Difference venue is also holding a night of Black Comedy on 22 October featuring Aurie Styla and President Obonjo.

Talks and more

Beloved by generations of children, Baroness Floella Benjamin will be at Leicester African Caribbean Centre on 8 October to talk about the positive impact of the Windrush generation in the city and unveiling special commemorative panels alongside community members. Then on 26 October at Curve Blackchat explores the important role that playwrights have taken in sharing stored of Black lived experiences. This discussion will be sure to fascinate and open your eyes.

Throughout Black History Month there will be online readings of children’s books written by some of the most talented Black authors in the UK. These ‘Bedtime Stories’ will be going out every Sunday at 6pm with guests including Michael Lewis and Vanessa Francis.

There’s loads more happening throughout the month, so why not take a look at the Serendipity Black History Month page or their online brochure to find out more and get involved.

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