Celebrating our Black Lionesses: A BHM Bookmark Project

Staplehurst Library

I mentioned in a previous post about a side project idea I was working on. This idea was developed at a summer Black Design Guild retreat. 

 I am pleased to announce that the idea is now a product available from October at all Kent Libraries to celebrate Black History Month (BHM). 

I wanted to combine my love for books and libraries with football for a Black History Month project based on this year’s theme: ‘Saluting Our Sisters.’

This summer’s Women’s World Cup was my creative inspiration. I thought of the England national team known as the ‘Lionesses’ and wondered about the identities of all the Black Lionesses that have ever played for the team.

I had the BHM bookmark idea in June, went to two nearby local libraries to discuss it with their librarians and got positive feedback. 

One librarian encouraged me to contact a Kent Libraries’ Service Development Officer with the idea; she was receptive and passed it on to senior leadership who commissioned it.

I approached a few designers for bookmark design advice. One of them said: 

“Don’t try to overthink a bookmark. These things are generally very simple designs.” 

This became my design philosophy for the rest of the project.

The first task was to research the names of all the Black Lionesses. I had to trawl through this Wikipedia page containing all England’s national female players to identify those with Black ancestry. 

This involved clicking each listed name to be directed to the player’s Wikipedia page but not all players had a Wikipedia page. I found 21 players who met my criteria. 

I then discovered a blog post on the JJHeritage website that had the names of all the Black female players from 1972 until 2021. The Football Association (FA) only started to assign official appearance caps to female national players in 1972. The blog post revealed two additional players that needed to be added to my list of 21. 

I collated these 23 Black Lionesses in a spreadsheet but was keen to ensure that I didn’t accidentally exclude anyone. This led to contacting The Football Association (FA) to verify my data. The FA team confirmed that only these 23 Black Lionesses have played for the national team so far. 

Kent Libraries had some requirements before they would be willing to issue the free bookmarks to their patrons. The inclusion of the Kent Libraries’ logo, the logo of the Black History Month charity, a QR code to a curated list of Black-authored books, a link for patrons who couldn’t access the QR code and a short text. 

I had to incorporate all these requirements with the names of the 23 Black Lionesses and a Black Stories, Black History image in a 51 x 152 mm bookmark. 

I presented the 23 players’ names as a word cloud. The biggest names in the cloud were the first players to play for England because I wanted to emphasise their pioneering legacy. 

I sent the final design version to the Kent Libraries’ team and they gave me the sign-off. I then ordered a sample of 5 printed copies from VistaPrint to see what the prototype looked like.

I shared the printed prototypes with the Kent Libraries’ team and they were still happy with it. 4900 copies are on their way to 99 Kent Libraries. 

Visit your local library in October If you live in the Kent area to get the BHM bookmark. I will suggest you do it as soon as you can because the libraries have limited copies.  

I have three goals for this bookmark:

  • It creates an awareness of the 23 Black female players who have played for the England national team.
  • It serves as a commemorative Black History Month product that lasts beyond October. 
  • It inspires some football-loving Black girls who see this bookmark to one day join this list. 

This has been a fun project to work on. I want to thank the Kent Libraries’ team and everyone who provided support throughout the project. 


I have written about some highlights and impact since the bookmarks went live in October in this post here

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One reply on “Celebrating our Black Lionesses: A BHM Bookmark Project”

[…] I collaborated with Kent Libraries, and 4900 Black Lionesses bookmarks were designed and distributed across its 99 libraries. I also created a customised bookmark version for Knowsley Town Council. Kerry Davies, the first Black female to play for the England national team, contacted me to provide positive feedback about the bookmarks. Read more about the project here. […]

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