‘Pamela Roberts is a force of nature. An amazing woman. Last year she arranged to speak to me about celebrating the life of Kofoworola Ademola Moore, MBE a student at St Hugh’s College and the first black African woman to graduate from Oxford University. Pamela’s energy and drive to ensure appropriate recognition for Lady Ademola’s life resulted in an invitation to her to deliver a keynote talk at St Hugh’s College about the life and work of Lady Ademola. Pamela gave a fascinating and thoroughly well- researched talk which was very well received. As a result of the inspiration and impetus Pamela gave us, the College also announced the launch of a fund to provide finance for African scholars and academics to study and research at Oxford, to be known as the Kofoworola Moore Fund’.
The Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC
Principal, St Hugh’s College, the University of Oxford
Few research fellows could secure the Old Bailey and command the presence of a busy High Court Judge for a film premiere of Christian Frederick Cole, The story of England’s first Black Barrister presented by Black Oxford Untold Stories or arrange for the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor to unveil a photograph of the late graduate Lady Ademola (nee Miss. Kofoworola Moore) It is testament to Ms Roberts’ considerable interpersonal, communication skills and collaboration, essential qualities for a modern historian, that she was able to do just that for the research she featured and presented in London and Oxford on both African graduates.
Her audiences were suitably impressed, as I was having seen both presentations of Cole’s undergraduate life at London’s Africa centre‘s event - How would you re-imagine Cole’. Pamela gave an overview of her research about Cole before the performance piece. At the Old Bailey film screening on 13th February 2020 presided over by the former Recorder of London, The Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard. Pamela opened the premiere with a scholarly exposition of Cole’s professional life.
Both Ms Roberts’ presentations displayed cultural empathy, attention to detail and historical accuracy, which also was the case in her Oxford address on 10th March, 2020 before the unveiling of the 1937 photograph of Lady Ademola on the occasion of the Oba’s visit ( her father - in- law ) to St. Hugh’s.
Miss. Kofoworola Moore, the future Lady Ademola was the first black woman to study at Oxford ( St. Hugh’s College, English, 1932). Dame Elish Angioni, St. Hugh’s Principal hosted the occasion which started with a short reception. Ms. Roberts ‘ pictorial address to an audience which included current and past undergraduates, dons and fellows chronicled the then Miss Moore’s journey from Lagos to Oxford and after marriage her decorations as a Nigerian educationist.
Ms Roberts’ work is testimony to how rigorous research is the foundation of meaningful scholarship which can be a catalyst for change. I highly recommend her research and presentations as worthy examples of amongst Oxford and History’s best ’Untold stories’ that deserve to be told.
President, British Federation of Women Graduates
Pamela Roberts was the key moving figure behind the installation of a plaque commemorating Christian Cole, as she has been of various other hidden stories of Black Oxford. Pamela has gone on to tell the moving story of Christian's life, achievements as the first black man to be called to the London bar in the 1880s, and tragically early death, using her skills as a director to create a compelling film. I was privileged to attend the premiere, which was in the unusual but entirely appropriate setting of the Old Bailey, whose courts Cole had adorned. In her continuing work on uncovering the contributions of eminent black graduates of Oxford, Pamela has been reminding these prominent British institutions that Black Lives have always mattered, are woven into their own histories, and deserve to be acknowledged. In the process, she has also challenged the historical amnesia and structural racism that occludes the achievements of Cole, Moore and the other eminent black figures Pamela has rescued from the enormous condescension of posterity.
Professor of History and Policy
University of Westminster
"The Bodleian Libraries are grateful to Pamela Roberts for convening a symposium full of ideas, debate, and drama.
These scholarly Exchanges bring archives to life."
Dr Alexandra Franklin, Coordinator of the Centre for the Study of the Book, the Bodleian Library, the University of Oxford
I recommend Black Oxford Untold Stories remain as a mouthpiece or advocate for black artists and authors who will not otherwise get the opportunity to tell their stories and showcase their talents. I will never forget my experience with Pamela Roberts who gave me the opportunity to appreciate what I do as a storyteller. Because of her inspiration, I still produce films in the Caribbean.
Managing Director/Film Producer at Iyanola Pictures
I have just completed Pamela Roberts’ three-part course on the Life of James Arthur Harley. The course is a fascinating in-depth study of Antiguan academic James Arthur Harley whom we first encountered in Pamela’s acclaimed Black Oxford: Untold Stories.
Although the focus was on Harley, we also learned about his links with some of his contemporaries such as Alain Locke, T E Lawrence and Cecil Rhodes. We also discussed social, economic, and historical issues during the Victorian and Edwardian periods including the position of women within these societies. Whilst learning about Harley’s life, I was extremely happy that we were able to consider the relevancy of his story and the many parallels that may be drawn with today’s issues.
As well as being highly informative, the course was also a poignant reminder of the incessant hurdles, prejudices and rejection black people often faced whilst trying to navigate their way through life. The course was thoroughly engaging, and the surprise guest added another dimension to the already overwhelming body of evidence that chronicled the life of a man that history had reduced to a little brown suitcase.
On a personal level, I was also inspired to reflect on my own experiences growing up in Oxford, spending my summer holidays at my uncle’s house in Leicester, having four generations of our family in both cities, my Antiguan heritage and how the first time I travelled to Antigua as an eight-year-old changed my life forever.
There were so many other things that I thought about that were triggered by the course and the discussions we had, so thank you, Pamela Roberts, for all the hard work you put into researching and presenting the course.
Through her exceptional work, Pamela has a skill in unearthing and bringing to life Black role models and introducing them to a wide audience in a very engaging and accessible way. This gift is clearly demonstrated when she unravels and reveals a hidden history of Black icons, such as Christian Frederick Cole, Britain’s first African Black Barrister. Furthermore, Roberts’ pioneering work to reveal a new narrative about Black students. Her work has great importance as it will permanently reshape and redefine the historical landscape, educating and celebrating the wealth of talent and helping to provide a platform to inspire a new generation of Black leaders.
Most importantly, Roberts’ work is key in ensuring Black contributions will not be airbrushed from history.
Operation Black Vote