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How Can We Create a Shared History? David Olusoga

Festival of Ideas
David Olusoga

Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building  |  Free

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Celebrating the new edition of his award-winning book Black and British: A Forgotten History, David Olusoga talks about shared history, the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean, Black Lives Matter and Bristol.

Black and British is vivid confirmation that black history can no longer be kept separate and marginalised. It is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation. Drawing on new genealogical research, original records, and expert testimony, Olusoga reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination, Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the global slave-trading empire. He brings us right up to date with the Windrush scandal and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, events which put black British history – and Bristol – at the centre of urgent national debate. 

He shows that the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery, and that black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of both World Wars. Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how the lives of black and white Britons have been entwined for centuries. Black British history is not a singular history, but one that belongs to us all.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Andrew Kelly, director of Bristol Ideas, David Olusoga talks about his work, what and who inspires him, and what comes next.

Black and British book cover

David Olusoga’s Black and British is published by Pan Macmillan. Buy a copy from our partners Waterstones online or at the event.

Supported by

David Olusoga

David Olusoga is a British-Nigerian historian, author, presenter and BAFTA winning film-maker. He is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and a columnist for The Observer. He also writes for the Guardian, New Statesman, The Voice and BBC History Magazine. He presents the long-running BBC history series A House Through Time and wrote and presented the award-winning series Black and British: A Forgotten History and Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. His other presenting credits include The World’s War and The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files. He was also one of the presenters on the BBC landmark arts series Civilizations alongside Simon Schama and Mary Beard. He is the Creative Director of Uplands Television Limited, a Bristol-based independent production company, through which he develops and exec-produces history and arts projects. His books include: Black and British: A Forgotten History; Black and British: An Illustrated History; A House Through Time (with Melanie Backe-Hansen); The Cult of Progress; The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society and sits on the Scott Trust.

This free event is now fully booked and the waiting list is also full. If you have booked a ticket and can no longer use it, please let us know so it can be offered to someone else.

Booking Information

To keep everyone safe, we have significantly reduced the number of tickets available to book for this event. We have put a limit on the number of tickets that can be booked by one person to give as many people as possible the chance to attend. Please contact us if you want to book above that limit or have specific access requirements.

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Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit latecomers. Full Terms and Conditions here.

Keeping Everyone Safe

  • We respectfully ask ticket holders to wear masks while they are in the Wills Memorial Building and follow the latest public health advice.
  • We encourage attendees to regularly test for COVID-19 in advance of events.
  • Please stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 (these are listed on the NHS website) or if you’ve recently been in contact with someone who has the virus.

Thank you for your cooperation and your efforts to keep your fellow audience and the venue staff safe.


  • The Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building has an induction loop system.
  • There is level access via double doors to the left of the main entrance and a lift to the Great Hall and Reception Room.
  • There are accessible toilets for public use on the ground floor.
  • Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.
  • There is free disabled on-street parking available on University Road.
  • More information here.

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