British Library - Love Camden

British Library Black Teachers: Jeffrey Boakye and Beryl Gilroy

Windrush History Talk
Black and white photos of Black British from the past

A look at the life and times of two black teachers.

This event will take place at the British Library. It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person (physical), or to watch on British Library’s platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up.  Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.
The online version of this event will be live captioned.

Join us for an evening of conversation and celebration as author Jeffrey Boakye talks about his new book, I Heard What You Said, and we mark the British Library acquisition of the Beryl Gilroy archive. Two black teachers working decades apart, but how different were their experiences of the education system?

Beryl Gilroy (1924–2001) was a writer, teacher and ethno-psychotherapist, who is best known for her innovative autobiography, Black Teacher (1976). Beryl was born in Guyana (then British Guiana) and emigrated to Britain in 1952. Her work explores the lives of families, particularly of women and children, and the impact of 20th-century migration and societal change that came as a result. These themes run throughout Gilroy’s archive, which was acquired by the British Library in 2020. Her life and work has been an inspiration for former teacher Jeffrey Boakye.

Jeffrey Boakye is an author, broadcaster and educator with a particular interest in issues surrounding race, masculinity, education and popular culture. In his book - I Heard What You Said - Jeffrey recounts how it feels to be on the margins of the British education system.  As a black, male – an English teacher who has had to teach problematic texts – his existence is a provocation to the status quo, giving him a unique perspective on the UK’s classroom.

Professor Darla-Jane Gilroy is a Reader in Knowledge Exchange and Programme Director in the School of Design Technology at London College of Fashion. She has a career that spans design, consultancy, and education. Darla has built a successful fashion label, worked as a brand strategist and cultural analyst, and has contributed to fashion exhibitions at the V&A. Darla is the daughter of Beryl Gilroy.

Beryl Gilroy’s book, Black Teacher, is described by the Guardian as “a vital story of survival doused in fury, humour and love.” It provides an insight into the Windrush Generation and the trial and tribulations people like Beryl were often forced to endure. Jeffrey Boakye's I Heard What You Said is described by SchoolsWeek as “an impassioned, articulate, and irresistible call to arms."

Jeffrey Boakye will be interviewed by Professor Darla-Jane Gilroy, Reader and Associate Dean of Knowledge Exchange at the Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and daughter of Beryl Gilroy.  Professor Gilroy will also be in conversation with Jeffrey about the life and work of her mother.  They will be joined by Eleanor Dickens, Curator of Contemporary Literary Archives and Manuscripts at the British Library, to explore Beryl Gilroy’s legacy including the addition of her archive to the British Library collections last year.

Jeffrey Boakye(D.Litt) taught English to secondary school students for fifteen years before becoming a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Manchester. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Leicester in January 2023. Jeffrey’s other books are Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime; Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored; What is Masculinity? Why Does it Matter? And Other Big Questions; Musical Truth: A Musical Journey Through Modern Black Britain and Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer. He is also the co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s double award-winning Add to Playlist. 

Pigott Theatre The Knowledge Centre The British Library 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB


Thursday 1 June

7pm to 8:30pm

From £3.25 – £12 Concessions available

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