top of page

The Dr. Louis Sterling Reading Room is a celebration of scholarly intellect

The Dr Louis Sterling Reading Room honours him and his academic contribution to sociology and education. There are around about 2 thousand volumes of books and sociology periodicals held at the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust offices in the Wesley Centre.


The aim of the reading room is to bring people together to share a common space of learning, enquiry and the acquisition of knowledge through reading and conversation, the exploration our past, and in particular the effects of slavery, colonisation, empire, independence and migration.


Contact us to visit the reading room.

Who was Dr. Louis Sterling?

Extract from talk by Judy Craven

Louis Sterling was born in January 1949 in the parish of St. Ann in Jamaica. At 14, he came to Manchester to join his mother.


His mother, Loretta Allen, was a nurse at Prestwich Hospital in north Manchester. The family lived in Victoria Park, and he went to school locally. After high school, he attended Bradford University. In 1971, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Bradford. He qualified as a teacher with a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) from the University of Manchester. He then returned to Jamaica, where he taught at Excelsior High School and lectured at the University of the West Indies (UWI). He completed a Masters in Education at UWI, Mona Campus. He was also an examiner for the Caribbean Examination Board.

In the early 90s, the University of the West Indies and the Association of Commonwealth Universities awarded Louis an academic staff scholarship. He returned to Manchester to the Faculty of Economics and Social Studies at the Victoria University of Manchester to begin his doctoral studies. In 1992, he became Dr. Louis Sterling, with his PhD entitled From St Elizabeth, Jamaica to Manchester, England - the Dynamics of Migration. It runs to 480 pages, including 21 pages of reference book titles. Just think about the hours and the effort involved in reading all that material and selecting relevant sections to support his ideas!

The dissertation covers the period 1954 to 1962. This is no dry, cerebral work - it echoes with the voices of the Windrush people - their hopes, their disappointments, their resistance in the face of the barriers they met in the so-called Mother Country and their aspirations for their children. It is Louis’s own story writ large in the experiences of the people he interviewed.

In the early 2000s, Mrs. Da-Cocodia introduced Dr. Louis to the Caroiocca Education Trust. In 2009, as part of the Manchester Conference for
Black Parents, Children and Young People, Dr. Louis led a workshop entitled Building the Culture of Success. Here, he made the case for actively working to counter the negative image of young black people as ‘failing’ and a ‘problem’ by celebrating the successes of black students and developing the strategies that lead to academic success. He emphasised the role of parents in fostering independence, self-regulation, motivation and a strong work ethic, in this way sowing the seeds of success.

After the conference, Louis was invited to become a trustee of the LDET. He served for many years until his health began to fail. During the isolation of the Covid lockdowns, members of the Trust, Diane Watt, Tom Nelson and Angela Ankeli, maintained a close link with Louis and his mother Loretta Allen.


Cut off from their other networks, the family was being wonderfully supported by their neighbour, Lesley Holden, who acted as the link with the Trust volunteers. Louis’s health was deteriorating, and sadly, he had to go into a nursing home where he now lives. Not long after, in January 2022, his mother, Loretta, passed away. I’d like to mention here Loretta’s immense pride in her son and her unstinting support for him during and after his studies and through the period of his increasingly poor
health. After her passing, while the family was preparing to pack up the contents of Louis and Loretta’s house, they discovered Louis’s will among the documents. In it was the bequest of his extensive library to the Louise
DaCocodia Education Trust.

Image by Jessica Ruscello

A selection of titles from the reading room


Carson, C (ed) Martin Luther King: The Autobiography

Stengel, S Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 Portrait of an Extraordinary Man

Gutman, H.G. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1925
Hochschild, A. Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery
Moore and Wilmot Before and After 1865 Education, Politics and Regionalism in the Caribbean
Patterson, O Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study
Rodney, W How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

The Caribbean
Beckles and Shepherd (eds) Caribbean Freedom: Economy and Society to the Present
Ellis, P Adult Education in Barbados
Figueroa, J Society Schools and Progress in the West Indies
Lewis, G.K. Grenada: The Jewel Despoiled
Sherlock and Bennett (eds) The Story of the Jamaican People
Rodney, W A History of the Guyanese Working People 1881-1905
Ryan, S(ed) Social &Occupational Stratification in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago

Migration and Immigration
Bhal, A et al Britain’s Black Population
Braithwaite, E.R Colonial West Indies Students in Britain
Cashmore and McLaughlin Out of Order? Policing Black People
Daye, S.E. Middleclass Blacks in Britain
Fryer, P Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain
Gilroy, Petal The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain
Goulbourne and Chamberlain (eds) Caribbean Families in Britain and the Trans-Atlantic World

Archer and Francis Understanding Minority Ethnic Achievements
Byfield, C Black Boys Can Make It
Evans, G Education Failure and Working Class White Children in Britain
Gillburn, D Racism Education Coincidence or Conspiracy White Success Black Failure
Modood and Acland (eds) Race in Higher Education
Troyna, B Race Inequality in Education
Wright, C et al Black Youth Matters Transition from School to Success

History and Culture
Agarwala and Singh The Economics of Underdevelopment
Barrow, C (ed) Caribbean Portraits: Essays on Gender Ideologies and


Dennis, D Black History for Beginners
Patterson,O Freedom: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture
Segal, R The Black Diaspora: A history of Black people south of the Sahara
Sistren Collective Lionheart GAL: Life stories of Jamaican Women
Torrie, J Banking on Poverty
Ulyanovsky, R Socialism and the Newly Independent Nations

bottom of page