the black cantabs database

Launching in September 2019

Our inaugural year in 2015 saw the society unearth the records of over 40 eminent black alumni, many of whom went on to play prominent roles in the sciences, law and politics all over the world and most commonly in Africa, the United States and the West Indies. In addition to Diane Abbott and Thandie Newton, some notable figures include: Gloria Claire Carpenter from Jamaica studied Law at Girton in 1945 becoming the first black woman to study law at Cambridge. Felicia Banjo Ogunsheye from Nigeria studied Geography at Newhnam in 1949. She later became the first woman professor in Nigeria and is still involved in promoting education at 90 years. Efua Sutherland (1950) who played a central role in Ghana literary and African theatrical movement with her award winning plays. Others include Archie Mafeje (1966), a foremost Social Anthropologist of the 20th century from South Africa, Thomas Odhiambo, a Kenyan visionary who studied natural sciences at Queens’ College from 1959.


Our objective is for ‘current and former students of the University of Cambridge to write the black students of this institution back into its history’ and publish these findings online. This serves two purposes; celebrating and normalising diversity; and a means for current, prospective, and past members of University, the contemporary Black Cantabs, to form a strong and connected community - ‘a global Black Cantab network’ of alumni, stretching from one of the recorded first, Alexander Crummell, to the present. Our Database of prominent Black Cantabs, which will be launched in September 2019, will help us achieve this objective.