Historian David Olusoga awarded President’s Medal

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  • David Olusoga
    British historian and television presenter

The writer and broadcaster has brought diverse stories from Britain’s past to a wider audience

The British Academy has awarded the historian David Olusoga the President’s Medal, its most prestigious accolade, for telling diverse stories from Britain’s past.

Olusoga, a writer, broadcaster and film-maker, best known as the author of Black and British: A Forgotten History, is the 39th person to be given the President’s Medal, which is awarded annually in recognition of services to the humanities and the social sciences.

Previous recipients of the accolade include the author Margaret Atwood, writer and historian William Dalrymple, primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and the author Dame Hilary Mantel.

The medals were first awarded in 2010. Nominations are made by fellows of the British Academy.

Olusoga, 51, is a professor of public history at the University of Manchester and received an OBE in the 2019 new year honours list for services to history and to community integration.

He is also the presenter of acclaimed documentaries, such as the Bafta-winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, Black and British: A Forgotten History, and the current A House Through Time.

Olusoga received the award for his approaches to British and international history by unearthing and telling stories from Britain’s past to a wide audience. He has previously spoken about the rapid growth of hostility to his work and why black history is British history.

On receiving the medal, Olusoga said: “It is an extraordinary and unexpected honour to be awarded the President’s Medal.

“Throughout my career, whether writing history or bringing stories from the past to television, I have believed that history and the humanities must be made available to everyone and include everyone’s stories.

“At a time when calls for inclusivity have never been louder, I’m thrilled to have my work so generously recognised by the British Academy.”

Prof Julia Black, president of the British Academy, said: “Prof David Olusoga merits the British Academy’s highest accolade for his approach to championing inclusive approaches to British and international history by presenting diverse stories from Britain’s past and engaging a wide range of people on the important issue of how we understand our collective histories.

“Across literature and television, his achievements are an inspiration to researchers in the humanities and social sciences looking to bring their research to a wider audience.

“His remarkable impact shows that there is unquestionably a huge public appetite to learn the realities of Britain’s international past.”

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