Campaign Bootcamp celebrates Black History Month by shining a light on the campaigns, projects, and work of community members

This month we’re celebrating the work of our Black graduates, from community-led campaigns to creative projects.

This Summer the majority of Bootcamp staff team were furloughed, in an effort to save the vital work that our organisation does. We’re happy to say that we’re back in the (virtual) office now and in full swing. We have some exciting updates on the horizon for our community members and supporters… So stay tuned!

Whilst we were away, our graduates were working hard to campaign as usual. So in honour of Black History Month, we are going to celebrate and shine a light on some of the recent work of our Black graduates and community members. Read on below to find out what our community of activists has been up to…

Alex sets out a vision for Black liberation in the UK

‘We are in a time of great change. As solutions and visions are being drawn, it is time for us to be bold and offer up our most expansive visions for the kind of world we want to live in.’

Bootcamp trainer and facilitator Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert kicked off Black History Month by writing a piece on Black liberation for Skin Deep, a magazine for Black creatives and creatives of colour to write about and explore working towards justice. 

Angela and Southall residents call on the government to urgently investigate air pollution

Angela, a Black woman with short hair and a black floral dress, stands in front of a building site with building machinery in the background. The photo has the Guardian logo in the bottom right hand corner.
Bootcamp Alumni Angela for The Guardian

Angela Fonso was featured in a Guardian video, speaking about a campaign being led by herself and fellow Southall residents. Campaigners are calling on the government to investigate the health impact of the redevelopment of an old gasworks, which area populated by majority Black, Asian and working-class residents. ‘I don’t believe this environmental injustice would happen in a more affluent white area’, Angela told the Guardian. 

Angela and fellow activists founded Gaswords Communities United, a new alliance including residents near former gasworks in Southall, Hornsey, Lea Bridge, and East Brighton. Read more about the coalition and campaign here

Rhianna explores hidden histories

This August, the Bootcamp staff team said goodbye to our Community Coordinator, Rhianna Ilube. Many blog readers will recognise her name, as our newsletter and blog editor for the past year. We will miss Rhianna a lot, but are excited by the work she’s moved on to do with the Advocacy Academy!

Over the Summer, Rhianna started a podcast called ‘A History of Everyone Else’. You can watch their video about the Maroons of Jamaica here, and check out their other videos and content on their Facebook page. They also wrote an article about why Rober Clive’s Statue here.

Tobi released a new single with their band Wastwmxn and plays UK Black Pride

Bootcamp graduate Tobi Adebajo, along with fellow band members Adedamola Bajomo and Kyoko Takenaka make up Wastewomxn, a trans-continental Queer band who’s music is fueled by their cultural heritages and ‘diasporic existences’. 

Wastewomxn released their second single, ‘Natural Ones’ earlier this year and played at UK Black Pride’s first virtual festival. You can watch the video for their single here, and listen to their music at their website.

Ian tells Peak District visitors to ‘Pick It Up!’

Founder of May Project Gardens Ian Solomon-Kawall visited the Peak District to record his ‘L.I.T.T.E.R’ rap. Ian and Peak District locals and visitors spent a day recording a video to support a campaign to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of littering. 

This month Ian also wrote a piece for the Bootcamp blog, about his fight to get the May Project Gardens a secure and permanent home. You can read his piece here, and donate to the crowdfund here.

Lady Phyll featured in British Vogue (twice!)

Lady Phyll, a Black woman with short quiffed hair, stands side on, looking directly into the camera. She has a sleeveless checked dress on. The photo is black and white. In the top right hand corner is the Vogue symbol.
Bootcamp Alumni Lady Phyll for British Vogue

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll, had a busy summer promoting UK Black Pride’s 15th birthday. To promote the festival, Phyll made a number of media appearances, including British Vogue, twice! You can check out the two interviews here and here

She was also named among ‘100 Great Black Britons’ in a book and campaign launched by Patrick Vernon, an honorary Bootcamp community member, due to his appearances at our residential training as a guest speaker.

Lade leads mental health discussions 

Throughout the Summer, Lade Hephzibah Olugbemi led a series of online workshops and talks exploring mental health and wellbeing. Lade combines her faith, lived experience, and mental health expertise to educate and mentor people around a range of topics, from sleep deprivation to anxiety attacks and depression. You can find out more about the organisation Lade convenes, the Nous, here.

Josh releases his debut book ‘How To Change It’

Josh, a Black man with short black hair and a beard, sits in front of a book holder. He is wearing a black zipped sweatshirt and has a ring on and a pierced nose.

This month marks the release of Bootcamp facilitator Joshua Virasami’s debut book, How To Change It. Published by Stormzy’s #Merky Books, How To Change It is an introduction to social activism, written from Josh’s personal experiences of being involved in movements including Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Josh spoke to Penguin about some of his favourite things in this interview here. You can buy the book here

Olivia says asks for action in her ‘Dear White Gays’ open letter

Over the summer, Bootcamp’s newest Fundraising Team recruit, Olivia Andrews, was busy holding the LGBTQ+ community to account. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, she wrote an open letter entitled ‘Dear White Gays’, which called for more accountability for racism from white LGBTQ+ people. She also spoke on ‘A Big Mouthful‘ and ‘the Dorothy‘ podcasts, and wrote a piece for Huffpost, all of which centred on the experiences of Black people existing and moving in LGBTQ+ spaces and communities.

Tara and the Oriana choir perform ‘In Lak’ech’

Last but not least, our Head of UK Programmes, Tara Mack, premiered ‘In Lak’ech’, a piece she composed earlier this year. Tara started composing last year, inspired by the choir’s Five15 project showcasing women composers. Tara sings soprano with the Oriana choir, who joined her in performing the piece for an online concert. You can watch a recording of the piece here.

This is just a small glimpse into what our Black community members have been up to since June. So many people in our community do work which is hidden, so we also wanted to give a shoutout to those in our community who are doing vital work but who were not mentioned here. Our Black community members are at the forefront of radical change in the UK and beyond, often at extraordinary emotional and personal cost. We acknowledge and thank the Black activists, thinkers, writers, carers, facilitators, trainers and organisers who make up our community.

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