Why Christian Cole?

Christian Cole (1852 – 1873)

The first Black student to graduate from the University of Oxford, Christian Cole, joined the University in 1873 as a non-collegiate student from Sierra Leone.

The racist abuse included stereotypical caricatures and cartoons like this published in the press, worsened after his graduation.

Despite facing considerable financial struggles and racial discrimination throughout his time in Oxford , Cole graduated in 1876 with a degree in Classics and was accepted into University College the following year.

Christian Cole made history again in 1883 when he was called to the bar and became the first Black African to practise law in an English Court.

“Ye white men of England
Oh tell, tell, I pray,
If the curse of your land,
Is not, day after day,
To increase your possessions
With reckless delight,
To subdue many nations,
And show them your might.”

“Reflections on the Zulu War, By a Negro”
Christian Frederick Cole, 1880

Although tragically, Cole died of Smallpox in 1885, aged just 33, he had made history twice. It was not, however, until the hard work of Pamela Roberts and her book, Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholar, that Christian Cole finally began to receive the recognition he deserves. A commemorative plaque was unveiled in Logic Lane by University College in 2017.

The Christian Cole Society is proud to honour Oxford’s first Black Classicist by taking his name to represent the students for whom he paved the way.

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