Black History Month Heroes

Black History Month is a chance to recognise and celebrate the incredible contributions of Black people across all spheres of our lives.

These past few weeks we’ve been gathering heroes from across LUU, so read on to find out who inspires you.

Audre Lorde

My Hero is Audre Lorde. An incredible black feminist/womanist. Loved for her poetry, activism and refusal to be silenced at any table. She inspires me to find freedom within my own words, identities and skin.

Naomi, Help & Support

John Lewis

Read about the legacy of John Lewis, US civil rights hero and Democratic congressman, here.

Sue, SLT

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams - a shining example of breaking down barriers. Nicola is an inspiring, warm and authentic sports personality who grew up just down the road from LUU in Ebor Gardens, Leeds. Nicola was aspiring to be an Olympic champion long before women were allowed to box at the Olympics. She went on to be the first woman to hold Commonwealth, European AND Olympic boxing titles. She won gold in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and is such a charming lass that she thought she could pop down to Asda after the 2012 victory and was surprised fans recognised her! She was also the first openly LGBT+ person to win an Olympic medal (boxing gold) and was voted most influential sports person by the Independent. This is particularly inspiring to me as being LGBT+ is still such a huge taboo in most sports and many sporty kids think they have to hide their sexuality to succeed. There still has not been an out mens footballer in top flight football since the sad story of how the media treated Justin Fashanu. The same can be said for professionals in most other mainstream sports - Basketball, Cricket, etc.

Nicola remains unbeaten in her professional career and for her work outside the ring. She continues to break boundaries and as the first woman-woman dancing duo in this year's Strictly - could success on the glittery tiles be coming her way?

Amrita, Help & Support

Derek Redmond

He incurred an injury at the 1992 Olympic finals but was determined to finish the race despite being hurt. With the help of his father he crossed the line knowing he'd be disqualified but proud that he finished. Very moving and always reminds me to never give up.

Watch; Derek Redmond Barcelona 1992 Olympics


Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua for being a humble and grounded boxer, turning his life around and being an inspiration to young people to work hard to achieve their goals and never give up. There would be no now if you stopped at the first failure, his message is to stay true to yourself, keep going and come back stronger when life gets you down. Stay Hungry, Stay Humble.

Watch; The Comeback King.


Nina Simone

Nina Simone is an icon, a legend, but a hero would be a label even she wouldn't accept lightly. Miss Simone was an incredible musician who trained as a classical pianist. Her dream was to be the first black female artist to play Carnegie Hall in New York City. However her music career would flourish as a singer firstly, and a pianist second. Her works are not only beautiful, but often very political. Nina Simone wasn't afraid to make her voice heard at a time when the Civil Rights Movement was on the march and opposition to it was fierce and often violent. Nina Simone never shrank in the face of opposition; instead she sang louder and more passionately than any one else could.

Nina's life would become shrouded by her struggles with mental health. Her own demons would famously affect her temperament during performances. But through music, she would find levity in her life albeit fleetingly. Nina Simone led a complicated and fascinating life leaving behind a cultural legacy like no other. In her eyes she was a failed pianist, and wouldn't lightly accept the title of hero. But to me, Nina Simone poured pain and passion into art and never backed down from speaking the truth.

Watch: What happened, Miss Simone?


Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu is a lawyer in both England and the US, the founder of 'Women in Leadership' publication and a political and women's rights activist. She works with female refugees and asylum seekers and empowers young women who seek a leadership position by participating at certain events and reaching out on social media. She also scrutinizes government policies from a gender and inclusion perspective.

She is an inspiration to women from all across the world!

Visit her website here; Dr Shola

Antonia, ART

Austin Walker

Austin seems like the type of person that I aspire to become: inquisitive, entertaining, and fiercely principled. His sense of wit and energy as a podcast host for actual play podcast Friends at the Table and video game news and commentary podcast Waypoint Radio make those shows an absolute highlight of my week. His outspoken presence as a black, bisexual man in fields lacking prominent diversity has shed much-needed insight onto a broad range of issues. As a voice on subcultures I love, an entertainer, a storyteller, and a scholar of progressive politics, Austin is an easy pick for my hero.

Watch; He Will Not Divide Us. Soon after the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Shia LaBeouf staged a protest with notable celebrities and culture commentators (including, prominently, Jaden Smith) standing on the streets of New York repeating the phrase, "He will not divide us". By chance, Austin came across the live streamed demonstration and, off the cuff, speaks directly to the camera in a monologue outlining his issue with the demonstration. Austin's ability to tackle a difficult, nuanced subject in this way is nothing short of incredible to me."

Matt, LGS

Barbara Thompson

I have been fortunate to attend a few events now where Barbara has been speaking and she is not only a creative and engaging presenter she is an inspirational L&D professional. Dedicated to human centred design and User experience she is a breath of fresh air in the world of L&D! A regular speaker on the L&D conference circuit and often found sharing her experience on Learning Now TV (yep that's a thing!), she must have inspired and helped thousands of L&D professionals like myself.

Follow Barbara; LinkedIn - Barbara Thompson, Learning Transformation Specialist

Rachel, People Team

Claudia Jones

The Notting Hill Carnival attracts millions each year as a celebration of multiculturalism and the Caribbean Community. Claudia Jones is remembered as it’s founder, setting up the carnival following the Notting Hill race riots as a way to ‘wash the taste out of our mouths’. The slogan for the early events; A people's art is the genesis of their freedom.

She also founded and edited the anti-imperialist, anti-racist paper West Indian Gazette, determined to give a voice to the Black community, believing that ‘people without a voice were as lambs to the slaughter’. Anon.

Read; Marxist, Feminist, Revolutionary: Remembering Notting Hill Carnival Founder Claudia Jones