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Westagte Oxford: Trailblazers

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Chineke String Quartet fl51xe

As a tribute to excellence, during October’s Black History Month, Black Oxford Untold Stories in partnership with Westgate Oxford will be hosting ‘Trailblazers’, a programme of events which celebrate black scholars, history and heritage. 

Curated by award-winning creative producer, historian, theatre-maker, author and Founder and Director of Black Oxford Untold Stories, Pamela Roberts, Trailblazers will showcase a range of free exhibitions, talks, screenings, workshops and book signings.  

Each event aims to inspire others to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black scholars and individuals who have impacted society whilst encouraging others to follow their lead. 

The Trailblazers programme launches with a free classical concert, supported by Arts Council England and Chineke! Foundation, on Wednesday October 4th, in Leiden Square, Westgate Oxford.  The show, performed by Chineke!, String Quartet (pictured above), will feature an original composition by  composer, Des Oliver and Libretto by Pamela Roberts, reflecting the life of Trailblazer James Arthur Harley, 1873 – 1945. It will also include pieces from historical composers Samuel Coleridge Taylor and Florence Price. 

Following the concert, there will be the official opening of the Trailblazers unit - the central hub for the programme. Audiences will be able to view the space, coordinated and supported with furniture and fittings from John Lewis & Partners to create a warm, welcoming, inviting environment and zones for the screenings, talks and workshops. 

Brendan Hattam, Centre Director at Westgate Oxford, commented: “Here at Westgate Oxford, we strive to create spaces that make a positive contribution to the local community, and enhance the lives of our guests. Partnering with Black Oxford to bring ‘Trailblazers’ to the centre is a great example of the work we do with those already leading the charge to make a positive change. We encourage our guests to come down and learn about the rich history of the black scholars within our community.” 

Pamela Roberts, Founder and Director of Black Oxford, added: “We are shining a spotlight on the incredible contributions of black individuals throughout history. The event is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who have paved the way for progress, and inspired generations with their wisdom, creativity and resilience.” 

Jayson Dorman, Branch Manager, John Lewis and Partners, commented: “I am delighted to support this impactful Black History Month event, which celebrates the rich contributions of Black scholars. It is essential that we recognise the diversity of voices that have shaped our world and continue to inspire generations. Through our support of Black Oxford Untold Stories, we hope to create a welcoming and inspiring environment where attendees can engage in meaningful discussions and learn from one another.” 

During the three weeks, the public can view an array of exhibits showcasing the works and achievements of black scholars, participate in engaging discussions, thought-provoking presentations, and workshops about archival materials hosted by the Bodleian Libraries, network and connect with fellow enthusiasts and individuals interested in promoting diversity and knowledge sharing.  Highlights of the event programme include: 

  • Wednesday 4th October: Free classical concert performed by Chineke! String Quartet in Leiden Square. 
  • Saturday 7th October between 2pm – 3pm:  Down’s Syndrome Oxford Singing and Signing Choir will perform a repertoire of contemporary uplifting signed songs, featuring a solo performance by Ms Serenna Spencer. The performance will take place in Leiden Square.  
  • Thursday 12th October: The Bodleian Library will host a drop-in session to highlight their collections pertaining to history from the African and Caribbean Diaspora. 
  • Sunday 15th October: Black authors day showcase with Q&A’s, readings and signings taking place. 
  • Thursday 19th October between 6pm-7pm: Rev Canon Dr Chigor Chike, will be attending to discuss his time as a Black Oxford scholar at Mansfield College as well as his role as Chaplain to King Charles III. 

Trailblazers will take place at Westgate Oxford between 4th-22nd October - the exhibits will be located on the Lower Ground level, between & Other Stories and Seasalt, as well as Leiden Square.

For more information on the programme of events, please visit www.westgateoxford.co.uk | www.blackoxford.net 

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