Welcome to our Black History Month roundup. This post is a snapshot of a month filled with celebration, enlightenment, and inspiration. From illuminating conversations to important events, we’ve embraced the opportunity to hear from our community and created spaces to bring people together both online and offline.
We started the month by discussing the history of Black History Month in the UK, tracing its origins and growth, underlining its role in promoting diversity and unity. This was the foundation for a number of events planned throughout the month including Growhampton’s ‘Racial Justice in the Food Sector’ event at the Hive Cafe. It featured food grower and writer Claire Ratinon, who engaged in a conversation with RSU’s Vice President Community & Welfare, Sharon Azams, and Growhampton’s Ellie Paganini. The ‘Seeding Reparations’ team also joined to address how white supremacy influences our food system. The event encouraged discussions on racial justice in the food sector and provided a platform for audience questions.
Alongside this, a lecture was delivered by Professor Anthony Reddie. Anthony is director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture and Professor of Black Theology at Regent’s Park College and a prolific author. The title of this year’s lecture was ‘From Sam Sharpe to Black Lives Matter: The Continued Struggle for Black Agency and Self-Determination’.
Voices from Our Community
We aimed to place the voices of our community at the very heart of our ideas. This emphasis on community participation is of paramount importance as it allows us to foster an inclusive and authentic understanding of the experiences, contributions, and narratives of our own University community. Voices like Sharon, the Vice President of Community and Welfare at the Student’s Union, and Laura Peters, the Pro Vice Chancellor of Academic Development and Sustainability, have helped us highlight the richness and complexity of Black history and culture. Speaking to us on video, their stories showcase the invaluable perspectives that shape our institution and society at large. We were also able to hear from Dr Jennifer Ofori, Lead Clinician from our counselling team. Through these voices, we aim to inspire dialogue, awareness, and a deeper appreciation of Black history, not only during BHM.
Knowledge and Inspiration
Our University library was proud to present a special book display in honour of Black History Month. This initiative underscored the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and representation within our academic community. By curating a selection of books that celebrate Black history, culture, and achievements, the aim was to provide an accessible platform for learning and understanding. The showcase was not only a tribute to Black heritage but also a powerful reminder of the importance of continually expanding our knowledge and perspectives.
The University also had the pleasure of celebrating the literary heritage of Black British poets with a captivating event at Wimbledon Bookfest. George the Poet, a talented London-based artist, shared poems from his latest collection, “Part of a Story That Started Before Me.” His work, which explores diverse Black British history, demonstrates how poetry can connect people and educate them about untold stories. George’s advice to students to “write for you” and “find your voice” highlights the power of creative expression.
On the final day of Black History Month, the University of Roehampton is delighted to share a special episode of The Roehampton Podcast hosted by Laura Johnson, the Roehampton Students’ Union VP for Education, and Sharon Azams, the Roehampton Students’ Union VP for Community and Welfare. This episode, titled “Celebrating Our Sisters,” not only serves as a fitting conclusion to a month of commemoration but also underscores the importance of Black History Month itself. The hosts delve into their personal Black female role models, offering a platform to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of Black women to history, culture, and society. Additionally, they recap various events that have taken place at the University of Roehampton London throughout October, providing a comprehensive view of our commitment to honouring and engaging with Black history and heritage.