09 February 2018

Guest Speaker David Olusoga

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Sevenoaks School had the honour of hosting acclaimed historian David Olusoga at The Space last night, in association with Sevenoaks Bookshop. He gave a fascinating lecture to students, staff, parents and members of the public about The People History Forgets.

While focussing on individual historical figures, such as the black sailor depicted at the foot of Nelson’s column, he urged the audience to reconsider the marginalised history of black British people in the light of the global nature of British trade and empire building, and reassess the perceived differences between black British history and mainstream British history. A broader examination of the tea and cotton industries, for example, would recognise the role played by enslaved black Americans and Africans, transforming a limited view of British domestic history into an understanding of a more holistic, interconnected and shared past.

The talk covered a wide spectrum of black British history; not just the economic and moral factors involved in the abhorrent British slave trade, but also looking far further back to the Napoleonic wars and even further to Tudor times. A particular audience favourite was David’s description of one John Blanke, a trumpeter in Henry VIII’s court, who had the audacity to ask Henry VIII for a pay rise during the early 16th century. Examples such as this show the depth and breadth of information that David’s talk offered, often in niche areas that we in Britain rarely hear about. We were truly lucky to have him to speak.

David took a wide variety of questions after the lecture, which was followed by a reception and booksigning organised by Sevenoaks Bookshop.

Finn Tyndall, Lower Sixth

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