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Making History: Christian Cole Lecture, University College, Oxford.   Wednesday 12 June 2019 6.00 pm


Christian Frederick Cole (1852–1885) was the first Black African to be awarded a degree by the University of Oxford and to practise law in an English court. He was made a member of University College, Oxford in 1877.


Join author Pamela Roberts for this special lecture exploring Christian Cole's life and times. Born in Sierra Leone in the 19th century, Cole was a ground-breaking student and a remarkable man. This lecture explores how he was viewed by his Victorian contemporaries at Oxford. Come hear about Cole's anti-colonial writings and learn about rare archival materials that shed light on his achievements.


The lecture will be followed by a reception. This event is free and open to the public.

Attendance free, registration required:


This event is part of Making History: Christian Cole, Alain Locke, and Oscar Wilde at Oxford, an exhibition running from May-October 2019 in the Library of Magdalen College, Oxford.


Making History: Christian Cole, Alain Locke and Oscar Wilde at Oxford tells the story of Oxford University's first Black African undergraduate (Christian Cole), first African-American Rhodes scholar and midwife to the Harlem Renaissance (Alain Locke), and greatest Irish wit and dandy (Oscar Wilde). These 3 were undergraduates at University, Hertford and Magdalen College, respectively. By drawing these exceptional men together, the exhibition highlights the surprising shared histories of Oxford's Queer, Black and First-Generation undergraduates. The exhibition showcases rare archives to allow the public a unique glimpse at the documents and drawings that bear witness to these remarkable young men’s lives and times.


Curated by Elizabeth Adams (University College, Oxford) and Michèle Mendelssohn (Mansfield College, Oxford) in collaboration with Daryl Green (Magdalen College, Oxford). Based on Making Oscar Wilde by Michèle Mendelssohn, a semi-finalist for the PEN America Biography Prize and a finalist for the Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize.


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Recognising Cole within the canon of Oxford University’s Black Scholars


Wednesday 7th February 2018

University College, University of Oxford

5pm – 7pm


Pamela Roberts FRSA, Director of Black Oxford Untold Stories in conversation with Professor Wade Adebanwi, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations.

The event is hosted by University College, Oxford University Africa Society and African Studies Centre.

On October 14 2017, University College and Black Oxford Untold Stories unveiled a plaque celebrating the first black African to achieve a degree at Oxford in 1879. The plaque came after and because of the efforts by Pamela Roberts, Director of Black Oxford Untold Stories to raise the profile of pioneering Black scholars.


This lecture will document the catalyst which led to the creation of 'Black Oxford Untold Stories' and the writing of her book Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars (Signal Books 2013). It will focus on the University’s first Black scholar – Christian Frederick Cole, and illustrate how Cole’s life intersected the complex intertwining of education, politics and race in the early twentieth-century exploring and examining the difficulties and barriers he encountered as a student at the illustrious university; and also provide an insight into his time as a barrister. The lecture will also explore the route taken to achieve the historic unveiling of the first plaque to honour Cole.

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