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Best Black History Month Speakers

With Black History Month set to return to the UK in 2023, Evolve has taken a look at some of the most inspirational and captivating black figures from the worlds of sport, business and entertainment who are the perfect keynote speakers. We’ve put together a list of our top talent for any Black History Month event.

Benny Lawrence
24 May 2023
Awareness Days

Best Black History Month Speakers

With Black History Month set to return to the UK in October 2023, Evolve has taken a look at some of the most inspirational and captivating black figures from the worlds of sport, business and entertainment who are the perfect keynote speakers. We’ve put together a list of our top talent for any Black History Month event.

October marks the return of Black History Month in the UK, a month-long celebration of the country’s vibrant black culture.

While the event acts as a celebration of the black community, it also reminds us all that there is still work to do when it comes to combating racism in society.

During Black History Month, a whole host of inspirational keynote speaking events will take place with some of the country’s most prominent black personalities.

At Evolve Talent and Speakers, we have access to a variety of some of the most popular black keynote speakers in the world. Having reached the top of their careers in sport, business and more, we’ve put together a blog outlining the best keynote speakers who will be ideal for any Black History Month event.

What is Black History Month?

With origins dating back as early as the 1920s in the USA, Black History Month is a celebration of black culture around the world while also shining a light on many of the inequalities and prejudices that black people still suffer from today.

The first-ever official Black History Month was launched in 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio. Six years later, the event gained popularity and was celebrated nationwide. It soon began to stretch beyond the United States, with Black History Month now also celebrated in Canada, the UK, Ireland and Germany.

In the United Kingdom, the inaugural Black History Month event took place in 1987 and has surged in popularity ever since, remaining one of the country’s cultural touchpoints to this day. The 2023 edition of the event will focus on the theme of ‘Celebrating our Sisters / Saluting our Sisters/ Matriarchs of Movements’. It will focus on the fundamental part black women have, and continue to, play in shaping history, driving change, and improving communities.  

Best Black History Month Speakers

The best speakers for Black History Month include:

John Barnes MBE

John Barnes Headshot

One of the greatest footballers of his generation, John Barnes is best known for his career with Liverpool and England. An incredibly skilful winger, at Anfield he won two league titles and two FA Cups, playing more than 400 games for the Reds. He also earned 79 England caps.

Despite his status as a football hero, John was the recipient of years of abhorrent racist abuse from supporters on the terraces. This even included a section of England fans voicing their disapproval of having a black player in the team and subjecting him to racist abuse despite playing for the country they supported.

Since retirement, John has been a vocal activist for racial equality, appearing on news programmes and debates to discuss his personal experiences and opinions on the issue.

Dame Kelly Holmes

Dame Kelly Holmes Headshot

A British Olympic champion, Kelly Holmes wrote her name into athletics legend when she won two gold medals at the 2004 Games in Athens. Despite her huge success, throughout her life, Kelly has suffered with her mental health and wellbeing. Having suffered injuries in the buildup to the Olympics, she self-harmed and was diagnosed with depression.

On top of all this, she was struggling with her sexuality, and it took her until 2022 to publicly come out as a lesbian despite knowing she was gay since the 1980s. With this year’s Black History Month having a focus on wellbeing, who better to book for your event than Kelly Holmes?

Maki Mandela

Maki Mandela Headshot

Maki Mandela is both the daughter of Nelson Mandela, and a businesswoman, activist and popular diversity and inclusion speaker.

Pumla Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah was born in Johannesburg to one of the world’s most famous figures and equality activists, Nelson Mandela, and his first wife, Evelyn Mase. Growing up in one of South Africa’s most famous families, Maki saw the remarkable impact her father had on the world and was determined to follow in his footsteps. She studied in South Africa, Swaziland and the USA to ensure she was educated to the best of her ability. Maki has held directorships at major companies around the world and is now a popular speaker, having worked for some of the world’s biggest companies. Examples of these include Nestle SA, as well as institutions like the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Spoornet. 

Maki has always had a passion for equality and female empowerment and has authored a number of academic papers on women in South Africa. She has also worked closely with Nozala, championing women in business and funding to uplift them throughout the nation. In 2017, she became the director of the newly founded House of Mandela family foundation. Through this, she helps to raise awareness and funds for a number of issues affecting African communities, including HIV and AIDS, education, health, agriculture, women empowerment and promoting alternate energy sectors.

Being both the daughter of one of the most influential black people in history and as a diversity and inclusion activist herself, Maki Mandela is one of our most popular Black History Month speakers. Her story is like no other and she never fails to captivate audiences with her experiences. 

Frank Bruno MBE

Frank Bruno Headshot

Frank Bruno is one of the UK’s greatest boxers of the 80’s and 90’s and of one of Britain’s best-loved sporting personalities and diversity speakers.

Frank began boxing from a young age and by 21 had turned professional. He quickly became a fan-favourite and regularly sold out Wembley Arena and won 40 of his 45 bouts. His first high-profile win came in 1985 when he defeated Swedish fighter Anders Eklund to claim the European heavyweight title. From this moment, he went onto fight some of the most formidable fighters in the world, including facing the legendary Mike Tyson twice. Frank’s greatest achievement however came when he defeated Oliver McCall to win the WBC heavyweight title in 1995. 

He is now a popular TV personality and has appeared on programmes such as Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and The Weakest Link. Throughout Frank’s career however he also suffered from a number of mental health conditions and was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. As a result of this, he now also regularly takes part in national mental health campaigns to raise awareness for several related issues.

Having been in the public eye and experienced a number of struggles mentally, Frank makes for an excellent speaker. He can share his experiences and how he overcame such mental battles to continue to thrive today.

Kanya King MBE

Kanya King Headshot

Kanya King is one of the most influential black women in Britain today; the CEO and founder of MOBO Group; and an experienced and accomplished public speaker.

Kanya founded and is now the CEO of the MOBO organisation. This is globally recognised as a leading entertainment and culture company and celebrates black excellence and culture. Kanya founded the well-known MOBO Awards – an annual celebration which recognises and honours the artistic and technical achievements of black British and international talent in music. 

In 1999, she was awarded an MBE and voted by the Evening Standard as one of London’s Most Entrepreneurial Women. She now uses her platform to give inspirational addresses to everyone from the British Library and Universities to Morgan Stanley and the Scottish Institute For Enterprise. She speaks on diversity, inclusion, and society as a whole. 

As a huge advocate for racial equality in society, Kanya is an extremely sought-after speaker for Black History Month events. Her actions have inspired many worldwide and she sets a remarkable standard in society. 

Anita Asante

Anita Asante Headshot

Anita Asante is a former English footballer and passionate advocate for leadership, diversity and equality.

Anita began her footballing career playing for Arsenal as a teenager. She remained with the club and went onto become part of the historic quadruple-winning Arsenal team who were crowned champions in the Champions League, Premier League, Premier League Cup and FA Cup all in one season. This then also resulted in the team becoming the only English team to ever win the Champions League. Anita has earned 71 international caps and competed for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics. Here, she made history as she kicked off the first-ever women’s Olympic Football match for Team GB at the London Olympics in 2012. Anita is also a passionate ambassador for Show Racism the Red Card, an anti-racism charity in the UK, and a leading advocate for gender and racial equality. She frequently works for the BBC, ITV, and Sky Sports, and is a columnist for the Guardian newspaper.

Having played the sport to a high level in recent times, and still being very much involved with it in the media, Anita is perfect for discussing the status of racial equality in current times. 

Tim Campbell MBE

Tim Campbell Headshot

Tim Campbell is an entrepreneur and recognised passionate inclusion advocate.

Tim is arguably best known for both winning The Apprentice in 2005 and then coming full circle and becoming the latest advisor to Lord Alan Sugar for the newest series of the show. Following his success on the programme, Tim went onto have an incredibly successful career and in 2012 was awarded an MBE for his services to Enterprise Culture. He now divides his time between advising a global talent acquisition business’s strategic diversity and inclusion efforts; his own consultancy; business mentoring; and investments in the leisure and A.I. sector. More recently, he has also prioritised his work in the education sector and has joined the City of London Corporation’s Education Board and championing apprenticeships.

With experience in the real-life business world, Tim is exceptional for providing insights into what it is truly like in the corporate world. 

Luther Burrell

Luther Burrell Headshot

Luther Burrell is a professional rugby union footballer.

Domestically, Luther was a crucial player for Leeds Carnegie (2006-11), Sale Sharks (2011-12), and Northampton Saints (2012-19). He has most recently played centre for the Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Rugby season from 2021-22. Throughout his career, he has also won 15 caps for England, between 2014-16, and scored 4 tries’, one of which was on his debut. Since his retirement, Luther has become an advocate for mental health, diversity & inclusion. Having recently spoken out regarding racism claims against the Newcastle Falcons, he can go into depth in his speaking about his experiences of racial inequality throughout his career.

Luther is an incredibly popular rugby, mental health and diversity and inclusion speaker. He is a very popular choice for many black history month events as he can expand on the difficulties, he faced due to his race, and how these impacted him mentally. 

This list is just a small example of the type of speakers we can provide you with for your Black History Month event. To make a booking, receive bespoke recommendations or discuss your requirements, contact Evolve Talent & Speakers today.

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