Black History Month : Inspirations in the present – Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham

Black History should be celebrated all year round. As well as celebrating inspirational figures from the past we want to build on celebrating present inspirational figures connected to #Lambeth, #Southwark and #Lewisham and those in the sector. #BlackHistoryMonth.


Solomon Smith – Founder of Brixton Soup Kitchen

By Andy Thornley

Solomon started giving food to the homeless at the age of 12. On his way home from school each day he noticed that there were a number of people sleeping on the streets in his area. His mother, coming from a large Caribbean family, always cooked a little too much each day; so Solomon took the leftovers and gave them to the homeless each day. When his mother discovered what he was doing, she was so proud!

Whilst on a University placement, Solomon did a placement at a homeless shelter in Lewisham. What was supposed to be a 3 month placement, turned out to be a 7 year journey. This inspired him to set up his very own soup kitchen. It was very difficult at first to get support, but he persevered. Due to lack of funding, he used his own money and decided to go it alone. He used his own logo and telephone number, and no social media. People began to hear about what he was doing and on the first day, 30 homeless people turned up! On 1st January 2013 the soup kitchen was born!

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Dr Jacqui Dyer MBE – co-founder, and chair, of Lambeth’s Black Thrive

Jacqui Dyer is an independent health and social care consultant with a background in adult mental health commissioning as well as community and family social work. She is passionate about prevention and understanding the factors that lead to poor mental health.  Jacqui is also the President of the Mental Health Foundation.

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Omari McQueen – CEO of Dipalicious

12-year old vegan chef Omari McQueen opened his first restaurant last year and now he’s publishing his first vegan cookbook. Budding entrepreneur Omari McQueen boasts the title of the youngest award-winning vegan chef in the UK, as well as the CEO and founder of vegan restaurant Dipalicious.

Malorie Blackman – Writer

By groupthing

Malorie Blackman OBE (born 8 February 1962) is a British writer who held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She primarily writes literature and television drama for children and young adults. She has used science fiction to explore social and ethical issues. Her critically and popularly acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series uses the setting of a fictional dystopia to explore racism. Her book New Windmills Spring sold out within a week of publishing it.

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Loyle Carner – Musician

By Alexander Kellner

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner was born on 6 October 1994 in Lambeth, South London. His stage name is a spoonerism of his double-barrelled surname as well as a reference to his childhood struggle with his ADHD and dyslexia diagnoses. Loyle received a mercury prize-nomination for his debut album – “Yesterday’s Gone”.

In 2018, he appeared in a film for a project by the charity organisation Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), which aims to prevent male suicide. The following year, he curated an art exhibition and donated its proceeds to CALM.

In partnership with local music artist Loyle Carner, National Park City and Croydon Council, we started with a Community Engagement Event to gather feedback and launch the project to the local community.

He’s quoted in saying  ‘Having access to green space should be a human right’.

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Cephas Williams  – Founder of 56 black men

Cephas sat down with all 55 other men, he spoke with them all and took their head shot. He then edited all the images and released this as an artistic message to the media, a series of 56 portrait images that showcased black men in hoodies with their job roles and achievements listed.

The message was simple, “let’s change the narrative and start talking about black men in a positive light”. Cephas, launched this the day before Christmas and the campaign took off.

Cephas Williams is also a speaker, entreprenure and photographer. 

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John Boyega – Actor

By fotoyorum

A British-Nigerian actor and producer born in Peckham. He first rose to prominence in his native UK for his role as Moses in the sci-fi comedy film Attack the Block (2011) and later became best known for playing Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy films.

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Baroness Doreen Lawrence – social justice inequalities and community relations

By Chris McAndrew

Doreen is the founder and life president of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT). She set this charity up in 1998 to give bursaries to young people to study architecture, to honour her son Stephen. She was later awarded an OBE for services to community relations, the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich & The Borough of Lewisham, and received a life peerage in 2013. She took office in the House of Lords as a Labour peer in October 2013, as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon.

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Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Council have all been committed to celebrating Black History Month and have been featuring events and content on their websites.

Lambeth Council

Southwark Council

Lewisham Council

The people included in this blog are just a few names that we have included, there are many more too! Thanks for reading!