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TV presenter and historian honoured by Northumbria University

5th December 2018

Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, who was brought up in Gateshead, has been honoured by Northumbria University, Newcastle.

David has produced and presented documentaries for more than 20 years, including Black & British: A Forgotten History, The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire, and the BAFTA award-winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. He also co-presented the new series remake of Kenneth Clark's 1969 programme Civilisations, alongside historians Mary Beard and Simon Schama, the most significant BBC cultural programme this decade.

Most recently David presented two series of A House Through Time on BBC 2, exploring 180 years of British life by focusing on the varied inhabitants of two terraced houses, one in Liverpool the other in Newcastle.

David is also a celebrated author; his 2016 book Black & British was awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. He writes regularly for The Guardian, The Observer and the BBC History Magazine.

Born in Nigeria David spent his childhood growing up in Gateshead.

“I was brought up on Tyneside, so to be honoured by Northumbria University is special,” said David. “This University is helping Newcastle tell its story, in a more global and dynamic way than we sometimes remember. This is a port city and we often convince ourselves that we are somehow isolated, but this is a global-facing city that has always been diverse and uniquely creative. Northumbria is successfully telling the bigger story of Newcastle.

“We have just finished filming the second series of A House Through Time here in Newcastle, which will be aired on BBC 2 in the spring next year. When the show’s producers asked me where I wanted to film, I immediately said Newcastle because I wanted to go home and tell the story of the city that matters to me the most.”

After graduating from the University of Liverpool, David became a radio and television producer. After this he became a television presenter. David’s other books include The World’s War, which won First World War Book of the Year in 2015, and The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism.

The TV presenter and executive producer gave support for a major Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) bid offering his time to create a documentary around the 19th century abolitionist Richardson family from Summerfield Grove, in Newcastle.

Quakers Henry and Anna Richardson devoted their time to the anti-slavery fight. They supported civil rights campaigner Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery on an American plantation and became famous in the 19th Century in the fight for civil rights, opening up their home to him. The forward-thinking pair also supported the boycotting of goods produced as a result of slave labour. Anna, who died in March 1892 and was buried in nearby Elswick cemetery, fund-raised with her sister-in-law Ellen to legally free Frederick Douglas from slavery on December 5, 1846.

Frederick Douglass was one of the most famous African Americans of the 19th century and with the support of Northumbria Professors David Gleeson and Brian Ward, there is now an effort to erect a statue to him in Newcastle.

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