Malik Al Nasir - Lifting the barriers to Black academia – through positive action and decolonisation

ILAS Grand Challenges lecture series

Photo by: Braley Ormesher

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The latest in a series of Grand Challenges lectures from the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences and brought to you in partnership with the Race Equality Lecture Series.


As a black person growing up in a predominantly white society, there are often a range of intersectional barriers we face, particularly in education. Higher rates of child poverty, often institutionalised and systemic racism within the structures of the society, when added to the historic misconceptions of Black people, fostered through hundreds of years of disinformation – a legacy of enslavement and colonialism – result in a plethora of disadvantage. This often feeds into poorer academic outcomes, than even similarly disadvantaged white children, who do not have the added factors of race to contend with.

Having been taken into care in Liverpool at the age of nine, Malik Al Nasir emerged at eighteen, traumatised, uneducated, and semi-literate. Liverpool City Council released him from their care into a homeless hostel and cut all ties. Despite being totally failed by the education and the care system, Malik was fortunate to meet a poet and civil rights activist Gil Scott-Heron, who mentored him. Using poetry as a tool to become literate, Malik single- handedly reversed much of the damage. He went on to college and university and is currently reading for a PhD at Cambridge, with a full ESRC scholarship. Malik’s memoir ‘Letters to Gil’ (William Collins, 2021) tells this remarkable story.

In 2020, Malik brought together a team of Black academics from the Atlantic-World and co-convened a series of symposia entitled Barriers to Black Academia: Slavery and Colonialism and The Case for Reparative Justice’. A report from the symposia then informed a roundtable with policy makers and Parliamentarians at University of Bristol entitled; ‘Lifting the barriers to Black academia - through positive action and decolonisation. Malik will discuss how working with Universities, and the founder of the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race Equality in Education’, they are pushing for legislative and policy changes in Parliament and the HE sector in the UK.

By Malik Al Nasir


Malik Al Nasir is an author, poet and academic from Liverpool. His memoir Letters to Gil is a compelling account of his childhood experiences in a brutal UK Local Authority care system, which at eighteen, left him traumatised, semi-literate, homeless, and destitute. A chance meeting with poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron was to prove life changing, setting him on a path to success. Malik is currently reading for a PhD in history at University of Cambridge on a full ESRC scholarship, and he’s just been awarded the prestigious ‘Sydney Smith Memorial Prize’ for ‘outstanding achievement’ at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

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This lecture will be available in person as well as online via Microsoft Teams.  For those attending in person, refreshments will be available from 5.30pm onwards.  For those attending online, please register (by no later than 4.00pm on the day of the lecture) and joining instructions with further information will follow ahead of the lecture. 

This lecture is free and all are welcome to attend.

Event date
Event Time
The Salvin Room, Keele Hall and Online via MS Teams
Steve Kilner
Contact email
Contact telephone
01782 7 34449