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Black Oxford, the Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars, delves into the University’s long and illustrious history of attracting many Black scholars from Africa, the Caribbean, America, and the Commonwealth, from the matriculation of Christian Fredrick Cole, grandson of a slave in 1873, who became the first African to practice in an English court. 


He was followed by other outstanding personalities: Alain Locke, the ‘Father of the Harlem Renaissance was the first Black scholar to be awarded the Rhodes Scholarship in 1907; Grantley Adams, a student of St. Catherine’s, went on to become the first Premier of Barbados.

Uncovering the stories of prominent and lesser-known historical and contemporary Black students at Oxford, Pamela Roberts reveals a hitherto unknown strand in the university’s history and its relationship with the wider world.


This book skillfully highlights the depth and breadth of connections that Black people have had with the University of Oxford. Long may this continue. By revealing these hidden stories, Pamela Roberts has provided both inspiration for potential students from black  communities and a reminder to Oxford and other universities of the value of ethnic diversity in the  academy’”


Dr Rob Berkeley, Former Director, Runnymede Trust.

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Alain Locke.jpg
Alain Locke.jpg

Hidden treasure and a pot of gold only begin to describe Roberts’ compilation of essays that navigate the reader through history’s hallowed hall of fame. This must-read account about Black pioneers, from across the African diaspora, will instil hope in those who aspire to greatness.

Roberts never loses sight of the warranted respect and dignified pride that a first-class Oxford education offers to those who have earned their seat at the table among the intellectuals. At the same time, she does not sugarcoat some of the histories of hardships faced by Black scholars at the university due to the ignorant neglect or the illogical nature of racism imposed by others. “Do not try to fight a lion if you are not one yourself,” says one African proverb. Each profile in courage proved that they were a lion or lioness in their own right.

Her book was a confirmation, for this Oxonian, that the bar has been set high for those who have entered the university’s ranks and “whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” However, Black Oxford is an inspiration about determination for students of any age and any ethnicity entering or matriculating at institutions of higher education everywhere.

The lion’s share of Roberts’ book reminds us that sometimes the brave thing of showing up, unapologetically black and clever, is its own form of Socratic discussion as well as protest against negative stereotypes.

Melvita Chisholm, M.S.M.

Management Strategist, Writer, Actor


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