From Presidents to Fresh Prince: Sheffield alumni to celebrate this Black History Month

There’s a lot to honour

Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK every October for over 30 years. It commemorates the achievements of Black people around the world, remembers their contributions to society, and celebrates the past.

The Sheffield Tab wanted to bring attention to and celebrate the city’s own Black history. From politicians to sports stars, Sheffield’s alumni have a lot of Black history to honour.

Dr. Nicholas Liverpool 

University of Sheffield, 1965, PHD in Law.

Dr Liverpool is famous for his two successful terms as the president of Dominica. As the sixth president, he was so well-liked he was asked to stay for a second term.

After earning a PhD in Law from Sheffield in 1965, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2009. His presidency ended in 2012 and unfortunately died in 2015. 

Kadi Sesay

University of Sheffield, 1974, MA in African Literature.

Sesay first earnt a BA in English Language and Literature from Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone in 1973. A year later, she graduated with an MA in African Literature from the University of Sheffield before a PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of London.

After spending 20 years as a lecturer at Fourah Bay College, she became Sierra Leone’s first female head of a national commission.

In 2012 she became the first woman to run for the vice-presidency in Sierra Leone beside Julius Madda Bio. Throughout her career, Sesay has advocated for and encouraged women’s participation in politics and is at the forefront of Sierra Leone’s feminist movement.

Joseph Marcell

University of Sheffield, BA Theatre and Science.

After graduating, Marcell became a successful actor, most notably starring as Geoffrey Butler in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

He has also taken part in numerous Shakespeare productions and many other British TV shows including Eastenders and The Bill. Most recently he appeared in the Netflix series, Ratched, a psychological thriller from the creators of American Horror Story.

Brian Lara 

In 2007, the celebrated batsmen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Sheffield in a ceremony where 40 local students earnt education degrees. The former Trinidadian cricketer is one of the greatest batsmen of all time, achieving the highest individual score in first-class cricket. 

After retiring in 2007, he returned to cricket in 2010, and since 2016 has played with Newcastle’s Bennet Hotel Centurions. He also established a charitable organisation that addresses health and social issues in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ayo Akinwolere

Sheffield Hallam University, 2004, Media Studies.

After graduating in 2004, Akinwolere became a well-known TV personality, notably presenting Blue Peter. Since leaving Blue Peter he has been in a number of competitive TV shows including The Great British Bake Off and Master Chef.

In 2015 he created The Swim Challenge to encourage swimming amongst Black youth and he is one of four people of colour with a swimming world record. Most recently he has presented the Rugby Champions Cup and writes for numerous publications. 

Jessica Ennis-Hill 

Arguably the most famous Sheffield graduate, Jessica Ennis was born and raised in Sheffield by her Jamaican father and English mother.

During her career, Ennis was the three-time world heptathlon champion and won an Olympic gold medal amongst numerous other records. Since then, Ennis has commentated for the BBC and started her own health and fitness app, ‘Jennis’. 

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