Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars (2014)

Book Review Written by Marina Davis

This book chronicles the lives and history of Black Oxford students throughout the university’s existence. The author was driven to undertake this research after she was told that there hadn’t been any Black students at the institution until very recently. She ended up uncovering an historical presence that was overlooked.

This book is a very short read but a comprehensive look at the iconic school’s lesser-known students and their academic careers. The text goes over possible ways students would have gotten into Oxford and other basic administrative information, like scholarships available to them. Then, it goes on to briefly summarize the lives of Black academics whose academic careers brought them to Oxford for different reasons.

The sections are grouped: Oxford Pioneers (where the first black students are discussed), Female Rhodes Scholars (Black women who attended Oxford on the Rhodes scholarship), Prime Ministers and Presidents (people who went on to have political careers), Legal Eagles (law students), Educationalists (became general academics), Creativity and Literature (became creatives), and Other Notable Graduates (a catch-all for those who could not be placed in one professional or characteristic group). The institutional history of elite spaces often ignores or diminishes the presence of people of African descent. This book serves as a correction for the record, which reverberates across all of the United Kingdom and throughout Europe’s higher education systems.