Historian Pamela Roberts details the inspiration behind 'Black Oxford Untold Stories' City Sightseeing Tours

1 month ago Mon 17th Jun 2024

Historian Pamela Roberts shares inspiration behind 'Black Oxford Untold Stories' City Sightseeing Tours

An award-winning creative producer and historian whose book uncovers the stories of prominent and lesser-known black students at the University of Oxford will provide a unique insight into her knowledge in Oxford this year.

Pamela Roberts, the author of Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University's Black Scholars, has partnered with Oxford Bus Company to launch the first-ever Black Oxford Untold Stories guided bus tours. The tours will treat passengers to previously untold stories celebrating Oxford's black presence at some of the city's most iconic locations and bring her book to life for the first time.

A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Royal Society for the Arts, Pamela's book was a family affair with Enid – her mother – contributing to some of the project's research.

Her inspiration behind the book started after she received a comment stating black people only drove buses and worked in factories and did not attend the city's world-famous university.

The remark ignited Pamela's desire to uncover the untold history of Oxford University's black scholars. To her surprise, she discovered that many colleges were unaware of these scholars' existence, which only fuelled her determination.

"I'm proud to partner with City Sightseeing's world-renowned Oxford bus tour" to share my work, said Pamela.  The tours build on my extensive work on profiling black scholars, from the achievement of a plaque for Christian Frederick Cole, the university's first black scholar at University College, to the unveiling of a photograph of Kofoworola Moore at St Hugh's College.  

"It is also essential we understand and acknowledge the impact of black people and celebrate the value of what has been achieved. Visibility and representation are essential as they help engage and educate a wider audience.

The tours will take place on three Saturdays during the summer – July 27, August 10, and September 14 – plus two weekends in October to mark Black History Month.

Passengers can expect to discover a never-before-seen history of Oxford's black scholars, including details of James Arthur Harley, the first black scholar at the Pitt Rivers Museum. It will also detail critical locations in the city, such as the Oxford University Students' Union, which hosted civil rights activist Malcolm X.

Pamela explained translating her book into a tour meant adapting its contents to provide a curated bespoke commentary. "  

"Every generation consumes history differently. We want people to interact and participate in history by encouraging those listening to think critically about sources of historical information, including who produced them, for what purpose, and from what perspective. Ultimately, we want people to enjoy the city's sights while learning.

The Black Oxford Untold Stories Guided Bus & Walking Tour launches on Saturday, July 27, at 1 p.m. Each tour lasts 90 minutes and costs £20 for adults and £11 for children, with senior and student tickets available for £15.

The tour departs from City Sightseeing Oxford's Stop 15 on Broad Street and includes a 60-minute bus tour and a 30-minute guided walking tour with Pamela.

Further ticket information can be found here: https://www.citysightseeingoxford.com/black-oxford/

To learn more about Pamela and her work, you can visit her website here: www.blackoxford.net