Black History Month
Black History Month (BHM) is an annual observance, originating in the United States, and now officially observed in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. For the month of October, community groups, organisations and industry bodies utilise the opportunity to honour the contributions made to society by people of Black heritage and their communities. As a prominent cultural celebration, Black History Month further provides an opportunity for collective action to tackle racism.
As a historic institution we have evolved over the centuries, retaining tradition but accepting challenges and instigating change as the world and its attitudes have changed. We are proud that we have produced Members who, where necessary, challenge the status quo and ensure the law is applied without fear or favour.
In January 2021 we published our Equality and Diversity Statement. We affirmed that we are committed as an institution, a professional and membership association and an employer which not only opposes racism and all forms of discrimination, but actively challenges itself and others to create a fair and just society for all.
We looked inwardly and inter alia changed the methodology for how we award scholarships. We became a signatory of the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions. We changed our election process for Masters of the Bench.
In this Black History Month we want to highlight the achievements and talents of our Black Membership. Across our digital channels, we will be sharing their stories about coming to the Bar and their careers. We will also be highlighting resources and initiatives external to the Inn which seek to raise the profile of and support our Black Members.
There are a host of events scheduled throughout October, where discussions and talks will provide Members with the opportunity to raise our collective consciousness around issues of equality.
Members will share their experiences with the next generation of barristers in outreach events. Professor Satvinder Juss will detail how the law has historically played a role in supporting systemic racism. Black Crime Writers will join a panel discussion on Black crime fiction.
I wish to extend my thanks to all those who are participating in events during this Black History Month and supporting the social media campaign we will be hosting to recognise the wealth of talent we have within the Inn.
Black History Month Events
Professor Satvinder Juss on ‘How the Law Came to Support Slavery’
A GIBC History Society lecture.
Thursday 6 October, 6pm | £5
Open to all. Book now via GIOS.
Pathways in to Law – Diverse Perspectives
Wednesday 12 October, 6.15pm | Free
An online event Designed to give students interested in in pursuing a career in the legal sector the opportunity to hear from legal practitioners about the various pathways in to law and their perspectives on promoting diversity in the legal profession.
For A-Level and undergraduate students. Register your interest.
Black Crime Fiction in a Modern World
Monday 17 October, 6.30pm | Free
A panel discussion on Black crime fiction with authors Leye Adenle, Amen Alonge, Dorothy Koomson, Nadine Matheson, Dreda Say Mitchell and critic Ayo Onatade.
Open to all. Book now via GIOS.
This list of resources and external initiatives has been created in collaboration with the Association of Gray’s Inn Students (AGIS).
From Gray’s Inn Library
- Benedicto Kiwanuka: The man and his politics, by Albert Bade
- The Past Remembered: A Bahamian’s long journey home in pursuit of knowledge, by Livingston Basil Johnson
- Ambedkar: Life and mission, Dhananjay Keer
- Black History is All Our History: A book celebrating 31 days of Black History Month, by Master Sally Penni MBE
- Returned Exile: A biographical memoir of George James Christian, by Margaret Rouse-Jones
- Reaching for the stars: The autobiography of ‘Folake Solanke, by ‘Folake Solanke
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination : a commentary, by Patrick Thornberry
- The Law in 60 Seconds: A pocket guide to your rights, by Christian Weaver
- In Black and White: A young barrister’s story of race and class in a broken justice system, by Alexandra Wilson
Discover these books and more from our Library via our catalogue.
External initiatives, resources and organisations
- 10,000 Black Interns
- AllAboutLaw Diversity
- Birmingham Black Lawyers
- The Black Barristers’ Network
- BME Legal
- Bridging the Bar
- Guru Nanak Social Mobility Scholarship
- Inns of Court Women’s Alliance
- InterLaw Diversity Forum
- The Kalisher Trust
- Better Human Podcast: Racial Injustice after George Floyd
- The Hearing: Episode 87 – I. Stephanie Boyce (Law Society of England & Wales)
- LawPod UK: Episode 155 – Interview with Nazir Afzal OBE
- Talking Law with Sally Penni MBE
- You’ll Be Hearing from My Lawyer, by Jessica van der Meer. Listen to recent episodes from Nneka Akudolu QC and Gray’s Inn Member Fitzrene Headley.
- You’re Dead to Me: Black Georgian England