Last year, we witnessed demonstrations around the world in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the United States. This sparked the Black Lives Matter movement which saw people come together in solidarity for justice; to stand together for equality and to end the discrimination against race. As a result, last year’s Black History Month (BHM) was one of the most significant to date.
First launched in London in the 80s, BHM was created to challenge racism and to celebrate black culture and the lives of black people who have done remarkable things for this country – and around the world.
Despite the awareness raised with #BlackLivesMatter, racism is unfortunately still ever-occurrent in our everyday lives (you only have to go back as recent as Euro 2020 for a clear example of this.)
And at Great British Speakers, we’re proud to be working alongside the most sensational line-up of inspirational black speakers from a wide variety of industries – from business, sport, media, technology, politics, culture and more – all deeply motivational, passionate and most of all ‘Proud To Be!’
Who could be prouder of her Black/African heritage than Dr. Makaziwe Mandela? The eldest daughter of Evelyn Mase and Nelson Mandela, Makaziwe herself is highly educated, with degrees in social work, sociology and anthropology, acquired all over the world. She is the director of the House of Mandela Family Foundation (2017) which was established to improve the lives of poor communities and globally advocate for social issues that affect African communities including; HIV and AIDS, education, health, agriculture, women empowerment and promoting alternate energy sectors.
Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE is the Founder and Chairman of Restoration Partners. With a career in tech spanning over 30 years and as the president of London Youth – a network of 450+ community youth organisations working across London, supporting thousands of young Londoners each year through their programmes – Sir Kenneth is a passionate speaker and engage with any inspiring entrepreneur.
He was voted #1 in the Powerlist’s Roster of the UK’s Most Influential Black People 2016.
Clive Myrie is one of the main presenters for BBC News on BBC One. He has reported on many political stories including Donald Trump’s state visit to London, the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May, and Boris Johnson’s first days as PM at Downing Street.
A legendary female British Olympian who really needs no introduction! Off the track, Kelly is passionate about helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds to lead a fulfilled life no matter their race, ethnicity or culture. In 2018, Kelly founded The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, with a vision to get young people ‘back on track’ using the unique skills she’s learnt as a world-class athlete to help engage, enable and empower the young people she works with.
Having battled with her own mental health, Kelly talks openly about this and how her background has influenced her own career and health. She is an inspirational role model, especially for young black women, proving that race and gender should be no hurdle to achieving success.
First appearing in 2007 on Dragon’s Den (BBC), Levi Roots has become a household name through his famous Reggae Reggae Sauce. The sauce, which was initially only stocked in Sainsbury’s became the stores fastest ever selling product. Before becoming a successful culinary entrepreneur, Levi was and still is, a successful musician, working with icons such as James Brown, Dennis Brown, Michael Rose and Black Uhuru. He was nominated for a MOBO award in 1998 for his ‘Free Your Mind album’ and sung ‘’Happy Birthday” to Nelson Mandela when he visited Brixton.
The philanthropist in Levi sees him giving back to the community and the young people in the UK today by visiting many schools, universities and even prisons every year. Levi is also a proud ambassador of The Prince’s Trust.
Karen Blackett OBE is a renowned and proven business leader with a track record in creating vibrant cultures, energising teams and consistently delivering business growth and success. As UK Country Manager for WPP, the global creative transformation company based in 112 countries, she oversees WPP’s second-largest market and the 14,000 people working across its operating brands in the UK. She is Chairwoman of WPP’s MediaCom, the largest media agency in the UK with billings over £1.3 billion. In the past, she’s openly discussed race and equality within the industry.
Karen was named by Vogue as one of the 25 Most Influential and Inspirational Women of 2018 and ranked top of the EMpower 100 Ethnic Minority Executive Leaders list. She was appointed the national Race Equality Business Champion in October 2018.
Trevor has spent four decades in public life, including becoming the founding chair of both the Greater London Authority (2000), and of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2007). He has also chaired several charities, amongst them the Social Mobility Foundation and is the current chair of Index on Censorship, which campaigns against censorship and promotes free expression worldwide.
He is an expert commentator and adviser on diversity, leadership and inclusion both to government and within business.
Michael came to prominence in 2004 when he became Britain’s first black Chief Constable and served as Chief Constable of Kent Police from January 2004 until March 2010. As Chief Constable, Michael successfully led the Force response to the Calais migration crisis and to the Channel Tunnel fire.
Michael has inspired and captivated audiences by giving a candid insight into his leadership journey during his distinguished police career. Having qualified as a Barrister while serving as a Chief Constable, in 2010 Michael was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service. Through his talks, he outlines how he overcame setbacks and adversity as he rose through the ranks to the very top of the police service and became Britain’s First Black Chief Constable.
Communication, Inclusive Leadership and Empathy at Work expert Shola Kaye is an award-winning diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) speaker on a mission, that is to create happy, engaged and productive workplaces.
As a response to ‘back to work’ post-pandemic uncertainty and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Shola knew workplaces wouldn’t be the same on our return. Using her expert business knowledge, Shola created the keynote LEADERSHIP, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: Inclusive leadership for the post-pandemic workplace.
During the talk, leaders are given the skill set to flourish in today’s complex work environments, managing ever more diverse and demanding teams.
Sir Lenny Henry has risen from a star of children’s television to one of the country’s most admired comedians. Over the years, he has also demonstrated his talent as a writer, singer, radio DJ. Lenny is also one of the co-creators of Comic Relief. In 2015, Lenny received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity. Lenny has also received the BAFTA Television: Special Recognition Award in 2016.
Lenny hit the headlines with a witheringly funny speech at BAFTA, taking the sector to task for its record on diversity. BAFTA Television Lecture: Lenny Henry To Address Ethnic Diversity In The Workforce | BAFTA
Lenny is a strong advocate for raising awareness of the lack of diversity in the TV industry, having spoken out during interviews and even during BAFTA acceptance speeches. In 2020, Lenny established the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, a newly established research centre, bringing together the expertise of established media professionals and academics.
June is the current Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, having been appointed in the role in 2019. June’s role is to increase representation throughout BBC programming and employment.
As one of the most familiar faces on British TV, June has used her platform to speak up on diversity and equality on a number of occasions and has written a number of books on the subject; Diversify (2017), The Power of Women (2018) and The Power of Privilege: How white people can challenge racism (2020).
In 2008 she hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park. She is the co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise).
David Lammy is an MP for Tottenham, one of London’s most diverse constituencies. A well-known advocate of social activism, diversity and multi-culturalism, David’s current position as an active MP has enabled him to engage in his passion for tackling the big issues facing society. His speaking topics cover how to challenge issues surrounding diversity in a progressive and effective manner and help to ensure that it has a positive impact on the workplace and your bottom line, and only recently did David appear on LBC radio, in response to the UK Race Report.
Emma is a social historian specialising in African Studies. She presented Is Love Racist? (Channel 4) and the radio documentary Journeys in Afrofuturism (2018). Emma’s interdisciplinary work crosses African Studies, art, sociology, history, film, literature, theatre, popular culture and music. She is currently a teaching fellow in the Africa department at SOAS.
Maggie Alphonsi is the face of international women’s rugby and arguably one of the most well-known names in the sport. Before announcing her international retirement in 2014, she represented her country an impressive 74 times, scored 28 tries, won a World Cup and helped England win a record-breaking seven consecutive Six Nations crowns.
On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Maggie spoke exclusively to Sky Sports to discuss how Rugby Union has started to tackle the war on race and discrimination.
“In rugby union, we’ve got various different diversity and inclusion working groups, and that’s about hearing the voices from people within the game, players and leaders, and what we’ve seen there is people implementing actions.
“That’s the key bit. It’s one thing talking about, but how do we make sure we start to see real progress? In rugby, I’m starting to see it, but we need to keep pushing it.”Maggie Alhonsi, Sky Sport Interview 2021
Having survived polio as a youngster, Ade Adepitan has since succeeded as an international Paralympic wheelchair basketball player and has built up a wealth of Broadcasting experience. Flashback to his early presenting days and some of you may remember him from the CBBC series X-Change and the BBC ‘dancing wheelchairs’ idents.
More recently, Ade has travelled the world for his work including the BBC’s internationally known Travel Show exploring the history and cultures behind the globe’s most enticing countries. And never one to hold back, Ade regularly goes undercover, investigating controversial and ground-breaking stories for Channel 4’s award-winning documentary series Dispatches. Recent episodes have seen him confronting the UK’s benefits system’s personal disability allowances.
Ade often engages in high profile public speaking. He works extensively in the UK giving motivational speeches to schools, charities and businesses.