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Black History Lewisham 365

Find out about our year-round commitment to supporting Lewisham's Black communities through our Black History Lewisham 365 programme.

Black History Month runs nationally every October to commemorate the history, achievements and contributions of Black communities in the UK. This year’s theme is Time for Change: Action Not Words.

What is Black History Lewisham 365?

While it’s important we acknowledge the national campaign each October, in Lewisham we believe in action 365 days a year. Over the past twelve months, we’ve been busy championing Black creators and trailblazers as part of our We Are Lewisham programme. And driving conversations to help us better understand how we can support our Black communities - from tackling healthcare inequalities, to addressing disparities among our high street businesses. And that’s just the start.

Black History Lewisham 365 is our commitment to offering a platform for Black voices and understanding Black lived experiences in October and beyond.

Black History Lewisham 365

We have joined together with partners and local community groups to offer a broad programme of events to celebrate the contributions of the borough’s Black communities all-year round. 

Upcoming events 

Making Things Happen: Sybil Phoenix in Lewisham, 1985

Various locations | Until January 2023 | Free

Making Things Happen is a celebration of Lewisham legend Sybil Phoenix MBE, OBE. The exhibition provides a snapshot of Sybil’s inspirational life and work with a stunning collection of photos taken by artist Geraldine Walsh in the year, 1985. After a successful run at Unit 17 in Lewisham Shopping Centre over the summer, it is now at Downham Library until 13 October, before moving on to Deptford Green school on 20 October.

  • Downham Library: 20 September - 13 October
  • Deptford Green School: 20 October – 21 November
  • Continues its Lewisham libraries tour from 28 November

Head to Lewisham Shopping Centre to see a giant mural of Sybil Phoenix, created as part of our Lewisham Legends project

Art Encounters at the Library - Places exhibition

Crofton Park Library | Until 5 November | Free

Holistic Well Women Presents: History of African Prints and Fabrics   

Saturday 10 December

Grand Christmas Cultural Market

Unit 17 Lewisham Shopping Centre | 10am - 5pm | Free

Come and visit our pop up shop opposite TK Maxx and H&M inside Lewisham Shopping Centre. We will have over 20+ fantastic vendors showcasing their Afrocentric products - including everything from bespoke fashion and accessories, to hair and skin products, to homewares and food. 

Whether you're looking for Christmas gifts or a treat for yourself - join us and support these fantastic, Black-owned, local businesses.  

Book your FREE ticket via this Eventbrite link.

Past events

1 October

Africa Puzzle Day Drop-in

Crofton Park Community Library  | 11am - 1pm | Free

Fun for all the family with Very Puzzled and their giant puzzle maps of Africa. For more information.

Pembe the African Princess

Deptford Lounge, SE8 4RJ | 11am, 1pm or 3pm | Free

Come and meet this golden princess who has travelled all the way from The Kingdom of Kongo in Africa! One hour long, for ages 4+. Reserve tickets.

Making Things Happen: Sybil Phoenix in Lewisham, 1985

Dowham Library, BR1 5EP | Until 13 October, then various other locations | Free

Making Things Happen is a celebration of Lewisham legend Sybil Phoenix MBE, OBE. The exhibition provides a snapshot of Sybil’s inspirational life and work with a stunning collection of photos taken by artist Geraldine Walsh in the year, 1985. After a successful run at Unit 17 in Lewisham Shopping Centre over the summer, it is now at Downham Library until 13 October, before moving on to Deptford Green school on 20 October. Please check Downham Library opening times.

2 October

Rapunzel by Spontaneous Productions 

The Sydenham Centre, SE26 5QX | Saturdays and Sundays, until 16 October | 3.00pm and 4.30pm

Let down your hair with the latest all-singing, all-dancing version of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel!

Present day south London: our heroine Rapunzel finds herself dreaming of becoming a hairdresser during the day, and locked in a tower block at night… Can a passing African prince rescue her from her predicament and show her the world that has always been kept from her?

Shows last 45 minutes and are for all ages. Tickets: £10 adults, £5 children (under-3s go free). 

Booking and more information here. 

8 October

Enomwoyi Damali - Nzingha and Identity

Crofton Park Library | 11.00 - 11.45am | Free

More details to follow.

The Story of the Windrush – Children’s Workshop

Migration Museum | Lewisham Shopping Centre | 1pm and 3pm 

Join Kandace Chimbiri, author of The Story of the Windrush, for a book reading and art workshop for children of all ages.  An opportunity to meet the author, who will give a short talk on the history behind the book. Then, create your own collage inspired by legacy of the Windrush generation. There will also be a book signing at the end of the event.

Kandace will be hosting two sessions – at 1pm and at 3pm, with each session lasting approximately an hour. This event is for children of all ages, with the book particularly recommended for ages 7 to 11 years. Every adult must be accompanied by a child!

Bookings and more information here.

First Love Community Radio

Listen live via MixCloud | 8-23 October, Saturdays and Sundays | 12 noon - Midnight 

Launched in 1999, First Love Community Radio focuses on uplifting the Black community, highlights the importance of Black culture and addresses the systemic challenges that Black people face. Supported by Lewisham Homes. Livestream the show on Mixcloud from 12pm-12am on Saturdays and Sundays throughout October.

8-9 October: The History of Pirate Radio - Conversations with Lewisham’s original pirate radio DJs and those who were tasked to shut the stations down.

15-16 October: Music Food, Wellness and Wellbeing - Learn how music and certain foods can contribute to your overall wellness and wellbeing.

13 October

A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham: Panel Discussion

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre| 6pm – 8pm | Free

Join us for an intergenerational panel discussion exploring the textile legacies of Lewisham's Caribbean community.

The event marks the launch of A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham, a heritage exhibition inspired by the stories of Caribbean women who produced made-to-measure, couture gowns alongside their day jobs in Lewisham.

The discussion will feature first, second and third generation Caribbean makers and designers sharing their experiences of life before and after moving to Britain, the impact it had on their work and how their professional journeys have been influenced their heritage. The panel will be moderated by local comedy duo, Jefferson and Whitfield. Tickets available through Eventbrite

Art Encounters at the Library - Places exhibition

Crofton Park Library | Until 5 November | Free

Holistic Well Women Presents: History of African Prints and Fabrics 

Design and create your own African print jewellery

Honor Oak Community Centre, SE4 2JD | 10am - 12pm

Jewellery making session followed by a black history quiz from 12:30pm – 2pm.

14 October

A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham: The textile legacies of the women of the Windrush Generation

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre (opposite H & M) | 14-28 October, Tuesdays to Saturdays | 11am - 6pm | Free

Step into Sylvia’s space, an interactive installation recreating the 1960s room where Caribbean couturier Sylvia Prime, lived, worked and raised her children.

Lovingly curated by her daughter, Joy, the installation draws on memory, oral histories and family photographs from the Hummingbird Senior Citizen’s Club and the wider Caribbean community to tell the story of the Caribbean women who produced made-to-measure, couture gowns alongside their day jobs in Lewisham.

The exhibition launches on the evening of 13 October with an intergenerational panel discussion exploring the textile legacies of the Caribbean community in Lewisham.

For more information visit We Are Lewisham

Caribbean Doll Display by Pauline Straker Rodgers

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre (opposite H & M) | 14-28 October, Tuesdays to Saturdays | 11am - 6pm | Free

Pauline was born in Kingston Jamaica and is a long term Lewisham resident.  In 1997 Pauline came to international attention when she was invited by the Global Doll Society to become one of its speciality teachers – this made her the only GDS teacher recognised in the world of African wigs and costumes and she has since gone on to win prizes for her work. She also volunteers at Lee Seniors Club.

This is a rare opportunity to see some of Pauline’s porcelain dolls made with authentic African hair in her home borough.

15 October

Lewisham Black History Walks: Lee

Queens Walking Group invite you to join this short walking tour, highlighting the lives of people of African-Caribbean origin in Lee before 1981.

This walk between Lee Manor House and St Margaret's church introduces us to the beginnings of England's involvement in the trade in human lives and the role residents of Lee played in it. It will also feature the lives of a range of Black men and women who found themselves in this part of Lewisham in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s. It is suitable for all ages and levels of mobility, and should last 1.5 hours. Tickets are free but must be booked here in advance.

Queens of Black History

The New Generation, SE26 6AD | 6pm – 10pm | Free

Soul Purpose 360 Lewisham will host a social networking event that will feature Black women poets, a Black History exhibition, stalls by Lewisham based Black women-owned businesses - everything from fashion to literature.  The event will also feature, talks, music and food of different African and Caribbean cultures.

19 October

Creative workshop led by Pauline Straker Rodger 

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre (opposite H & M)| 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm | Free

This free workshop will provide an opportunity to create beautiful artistic projects/card using unique lamination stamps and stencils – producing a professional result every time even as a beginner.  You may also like to make a Halloween tea light castle.  All materials provided.

Taste of Jamaica

Eliot Bank Children and Family Centre, SE26 4BU | 11am – 2pm

Explore the tastes of Jamaica through our Black History culinary experience. Our tasting experiences will delight your palate and introduce you to a range of treats. Book your ticket through Eventbrite here. 

20 October

Holistic Well Women Presents: CocoShea Workshop

Honor Oak Community Centre, SE4 2JD | 10am – 12pm

Learn how to make your own body products using shea butter and coconut. Followed by a black history quiz 12:30pm – 2pm.

22 October

Author Talk: Jody Burton

Catford Library | 3pm – 4pm | Free

Author of Black London, Jody Burton will visit Catford Library for an afternoon of conversation.

First Love Community Radio

Listen live via MixCloud | 8-23 October, Saturdays and Sundays | 12 noon - Midnight 

Launched in 1999, First Love Community Radio focuses on uplifting the Black community, highlights the importance of Black culture and addresses the systemic challenges that Black people face. Supported by Lewisham Homes. Livestream the show on Mixcloud from 12pm-12am on Saturdays and Sundays throughout October.

22-23 October: Family - talking about family, in its many different forms, and the role it plays in society.

West Indians:The Panama Canal

Manor House Library, SE13 5SY | 11am - 5pm | Free

Organised by 360 Lifestyle Support Network CIC. More details to follow.

Deptford Green School Cultural Evening

We will have various events happening in school during October, culminating in an evening of Art, Music, Spoken Word and food. We will have a Catwalk event where our students will celebrate wearing their own cultural dress and will host the photography exhibition Making things Happen: Sybil Phoenix in Lewisham, 1985. More details to follow.

Lewisham Black History Walks: Blackheath

Queens Walking Group invite you to discover how some of Britain's families made fortunes through enslavement and why Blackheath was central to it. This tour also introduces some of the earliest African writers to be published in English as well as a host of 18th century Black activists, 'princes', scholars and others who defied all the limitations placed against them.

This walk around Blackheath finishes inside Greenwich Park close to the Rose Garden. It is suitable for all ages and levels of mobility, and should last 1.5 hours. Tickets are free but must be booked here in advance.

23 October

Deptford Dub Club: Prince Fatty Black History Month Special

Fox and Firkin, Lewisham High Street | 6pm - midnight | £3

In addition to our guest star, all of the usual D.D.C. massive will be along for this one. We are thrilled that early on we’ll be introducing, up and coming, young lion Sugar Downbeat, selecting for us for the first time. Resident Soft Wax will also be spinning on the wheels of steel, with a fresh selection.  He’ll joined by the mighty Doc Murdoch, our resident Singjay, live and direct. They’ll be joined by our great, 4 piece, house horn section, led by Tom Mossop. Plus, the prodigious Prince Fatty will be mixing live on the desk, when he’s not actually selecting, ensuring a full and rich sound from the mighty rig. For more information and to book tickets.

24 October

Doing it for love: An audience with Dr Julius Garvey

Civic Suite, Catford Road, SE6 4RU | 6.45 - 9.30pm | Free

An audience with Dr Julius Garvey – a renowned vascular surgeon and the son of Jamaican civil rights activist, the Rt Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

Dr Garvey is visiting the borough, for the first time in nine years, as part of the Black History Lewisham 365 programme. Join us for what will be a memorable evening, full of lively discussion, with some live entertainment – chaired by former Young Mayor of Lewisham, Jacob Sakil.

Tickets have now sold out. However you can watch the event live via this link from 7.30pm on Monday (24 October)

A young audience with Dr Garvey takes place earlier the same day. This is an event for under-18s. Please note that children of 12 and under will need to be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited so please register now.  

A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham: The textile legacies of the women of the Windrush Generation

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre (opposite H & M) | Until 28 October, Tuesdays to Saturdays | 11am - 6pm | Free

Step into Sylvia’s space, an interactive installation recreating the 1960s room where Caribbean couturier Sylvia Prime, lived, worked and raised her children.

Lovingly curated by her daughter, Joy, the installation draws on memory, oral histories and family photographs from the Hummingbird Senior Citizen’s Club and the wider Caribbean community to tell the story of the Caribbean women who produced made-to-measure, couture gowns alongside their day jobs in Lewisham.

The exhibition launches on the evening of 13 October with an intergenerational panel discussion exploring the textile legacies of the Caribbean community in Lewisham.

For more information visit We Are Lewisham.  

25 October

Phoenix Community Housing Celebrates Black History Month

The Green Man | 5pm - 7pm | Free

Join us for an evening to celebrate Black History Month with talks, a film screening, activities and more. This year’s theme is Health and Wellbeing and we will be looking at why Black and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately disadvantaged in the healthcare system and experience unfair treatment.  We’ll have a screening of Racial Inequalities in Health by the Open University where Dr. Jenny Douglas explores why Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the UK were at greater risk of death from the coronavirus.  We’ll also have free massages, an African Drumming performance, fun for all exercise to Caribbean music class, information stalls and more! For more information and to reserve tickets.

26 October

Pioneers and Protest: Seeking Change - Film Screening

Richard Hoggart Building Cinema, Goldsmiths, University of London | 6:30pm – 8:30pm | Free

IRIE! dance theatre presents Pioneers and Protest: Seeking Change, a film about the Black People’s Day of Action, 1981. The film is part of our Pioneers and Protest project with Goldsmiths In Living Memory programme for Borough of Culture 2022. The film combines oral history interviews with people who took part in the 1981 demonstration and archive photographs. The screening will be followed by a Q&A. Free entry, book you place on Eventbrite here. 

27 October

A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham: People's Fashion Show

Unit 17, Lewisham Shopping Centre (opposite H & M) | 6pm - 8pm | Free

A People's Fashion Show to showcase the made-to-measure, couture gowns and dresses of Lewisham's Caribbean community.

This marks the grand finale of A Caribbean Couturier in Lewisham, a heritage exhibition inspired by the stories of the Caribbean women who produced made-to-measure, couture gowns alongside their day jobs in Lewisham.

Caribbean elders and younger generations are invited to attend wearing cherished garments from yesteryear alongside contemporary items created by local makers. For more information and to reserve tickets.

Okoye, Ramonda, and Shuri: Revolutionary Sisterhood in Black Panther

Civic Suite Catford Road London SE6 9SS | 5pm - 6pm | Free

Lewisham Archives present a talk by Dr Yewande, who takes us on a journey of exploration to examine the Black Panther film through an Afrocentric lens.Dr. Okuleye will employ film analysis, autobiography, and poetry to weave narratives of meanings that highlight concepts of home, belonging, ethics and historiography. Reserve your free ticket.

29 October

Black Health and Wellness

The Lewington Community Centre, SE16 2RU | Free | More details to follow

Hosted by Parentskills2go CIC - this is a multigenerational community celebration for families and young people, exploring Black health and wellness through creative writing, poetry and music. Also taking place at the event, the third edition of a Black comic book by young people will be launched to celebrate parents and young volunteers. Food and refreshments provided.

Lewisham Black History Walks: Deptford

Join Queens Walking Group for this final walking tour which takes you from the living memories of the New Cross Fire, through the area's earliest post-Windrush race riots. a selection of 18th and 19th century Black locals to 1501 and the beginnings of the Black presence in Tudor London. This walk has a special focus on themes of family life and 'repatriation'.

The walk finishes by the Thames at Deptford Steps, Watergate Street. It is suitable for all ages and levels of mobility, and should last 1.5 hours. Tickets are free but must be booked here in advance