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The events of 2020 have seen an explosion of interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and forced us to reflect more openly and honestly on the contribution of Black people to British society. 

With that in mind, academics and researchers from the University of Sunderland, led by Professor Angela Smith and Professor Donna Chambers, have recently worked with Sunderland Council in commemorating and celebrating the life and work of Dominican Samuel Jules Celestine Edwards, a pioneering lecturer, writer, editor and anti-colonial campaigner who lived and worked in Sunderland in the late 19th Century and found a receptive aufience for his impassioned anti-racism speeches and eloquent, engaging public debates.

Celestine Edwards' memory and contribution to life and culture in Sunderland is now being commemorated with a heritage blue plaque in the heart of the city. 


The day is coming when Africans will speak for themselves. The day is breaking, and the despised African, whose only crime is his colour, will yet give an account of himself. We think it no crime for Africans to look with suspicion upon the European, who has stolen a part of their country, and deluged it with rum and powder, under the cover of civilisation."

Listen to the first in a series of podcasts on Black Lives, presented by the University of Sunderland's RaCE (Race, Class and Ethnicity) and SunGen (Sunderland Gender) interdisciplinary research networks.

To celebrate the unveiling of the Celestine Edwards blue plaque, Professor Angela Smith and Professor Donna Chambers, joined by University Chaplain Reverend Chris Howson, sat down with fellow staff members, students, and guests from across the region to talk about the importance of Celestine Edwards' work and the background to how the blue plaque came to be.

University of Sunderland staff celebrating the life of Celestine Edwards on Zoom

University of Sunderland staff, students and guests from around the region and
beyond celebrate the life of anti-racism activist Celestine Edwards


The Sunderland Heritage Blue Plaque commemorating Celestine Edwards

The heritage blue plaque commemorating the life and work of Celestine Edwards

University of Sunderland MA Journalism students recently wrote a piece covering the commemoration of Celestine Edwards and the heritage blue plaque.

Watch the video of the blue plaque unveiling: 

Published: 1 October 2020

Celestine Edwards

Join Professor Angela Smith, Professor Donna Chambers and University Chaplain Reverend Chris Howson as they celebrate the unveiling of the new blue plaque for Celestine Edwards, and talk about his life and work in Sunderland.

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