Black History Month

Black History Month 2022


 Time for Change: Action not Words

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This October we celebrated Black History Month, one of the core months in our College's new EDI Calendar. Black History Month is an opportunity to honour and celebrate the accompishments of Black Britons, including unsung heroes and champions who have influenced every area of endeavour throughout our history, changing the political, cultural and social landscape. 

The purpose of Black History Month is to celebrate and expand our understanding of history, through questioning dominant representations and providing platforms for marginalised voices. However, Black History Month also provides an opportunity to further highlight the continued effects of cultural and systemic racism, and what we can all do within our sphere of influence to challenge, intervene, and change our practices to become actively anti-racist.  

The theme of this year's Black History Month was Time for Change: Action Not Words. As a College we are committed to looking closer, thinking bigger and taking meaningful action that will lead to genuine and sustained change. 

Please see below for more information about the College's Black History Month events and initiatives around race.

 

The Life of Sarah Parker Remond - Tuesday 25 October

The Department of Psychology welcomed colleagues and students to celebrate Black History Month by discovering the extraordinary story of Sarah Parker Remond: traveller, abolitionist, lecturer, nurse, doctor, and more.

Sarah Parker Remond (1826-1894) left the free black community of Salem, Massachusetts, where she was born, to become one of the first women to travel on extensive lecture tours across the United Kingdom. She studied at what are now known as Royal Holloway University of London and University College London. She joined in the suffrage movement, fighting for women's right to vote. Remond eventually moved to Florence, Italy, where she earned a degree at one of Europe's most prestigious medical schools. Her language skills enabled her to join elite salons in Florence and Rome, where she entertained high society with musical soirees even while maintaining connections to European emancipation movements.

Professor Sirpa Salenius, author of An Abolitionist Abroad, Sarah Parker Remond in Cosmopolitan Europe, outlined her story and the international range of her impact and achievements, including becoming one of the first women doctors in Italy.

An audience with I. Stephanie Boyce - Wednesday 5 October

For our keynote Black History Month event, Royal Holloway's Black and Global Majority Staff Network invited our students, colleagues and the public to take part in a virtual conversation with I. Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society of England and Wales. The Law Society was formed in 1825, and in March 2021 Stephanie made history by becoming the 177th president, the sixth female and the first black (and first person of colour) to take the role.

The event took place on Wednesday 5 October and was co-chaired by Dr Rita D’Alton-Harrison (School of Law and Social Science) and Chris Howorth (School of Business and Management). After the event, one participant said: "I felt proud of Stephanie’s achievements and inspired as I have had a tough time in my legal journey. I have always had the mindset to keep going and I have been affirmed by her inspirational words. Thank you and what a positive way to start Black History Month!"

We invite colleagues to re-watch the celebration of Stephanie's tenure and the discussion about the future of the legal profession. You can access the recording of the event on YouTube or by clicking the image below (subtitles and transcript available on the link).

I Stephanie Boyce cover

Launch of Introduction to Race Equity training

At Royal Holloway we recognise that there is inequality and racism around us and within our community, and that we need to do more to combat it and its consequences. Therefore, this Black History Month we launched our new Introduction to Race Equity course for colleagues.

Developed by Advance HE, this course is part of our approach to improving understanding our community's understanding of racism, and encouraging every member to commit to further actions which will tackle racial inequality. It uses video testimonies from students and staff, who describe their experiences.

The course consists of two units. The first covers race, racism and inequity in Higher Education, describing overt and covert racism and the issues of whiteness, privilege and belonging. The second goes on to explore the importance of inclusion and belonging, and what we can do to build this within our communities.

The course asks you to reflect on your own learning as you explore the issues that it presents through the video testimonies. We encourage you to download the reflective journal and the action plan – for your own use only – to help you to do this.

You can access the course on Moodle here

Celebrating Black History Month in the Archives and Library

To celebrate Black History Month, the Culture Team and the Library decided to explore the interesting theatre collections stored in Royal Holloway Archives and Special Collections. We have the records of several radical and progressive theatre companies from the 1970s and 1980s, including the Half Moon Theatre Company and Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company. These companies staged plays by Black writers and featured Black performers, attempting to address some of the racist and homophobic issues which were prevalent at the time. Each week during October they shared some highlights from the collections which includes photos, flyers and posters from the performances. See here for more information about our archives.

The Library entrance also featured a Black Literature Timeline. This was created by Royal Holloway alumnus Gaverne Bennett for the British Library and explores the history of Black literature in Britain. During October the Library also showcased some of the books featured in the timeline. 

Follow the Gallery and Library on Twitter and Instagram (@RHUL_Gallery and @RHUL_Library) for more.

Royal Holloway Black History Month logo

The Marketing and Communications Team designed a College logo using the official colours of Black History Month, which are black, red, yellow and green (also known as the Pan African colours). The meanings of these colours are as follows:

  • Black: Represents the melanated skin colour of African people or people of African descent.
  • Yellow: Represents optimism, justice, and equality for all people.
  • Green: Symbolises Africa's rich greenery and other God-given natural resources.
  • Red: Symbolises the excruciating bloodshed of Black and global majority people during the battle against slavery, racism, and colonialism.

The logo can be downloaded here. Staff are welcome to use this in their email signatures throughout all of October, and you can access guidance on how to update your email signature here. Staff are also welcome to use this on any presentations they are delivering during October.

Students' Union Events

The Students' Union teamed up with the student African-Caribbean Society (ACS) to organise a range of events for Black History Month. On Monday 24 October, they organised an evening for staff and students with anti-racism activist Maia Thomas. She talked about her experience as a young black woman in the South West, touching on the barriers she faced and how she became a leading equality, diversity and inclusion expert and anti-racism activist.

Other events they organised included Union club nights, a workshop on juggling full time work with a side hustle, and an ACS student showcase. Please see more information about these other events on the Students' Union Black History Month campaign website.

Widening Access Initiatives

The Widening Access Team in Marketing and Communications have developed the Black Creatives Award, a competition for Black & Mixed Black heritage secondary school students from London and the South East. The competition asks students to submit original pieces of creative work relating to this year's Black History Month theme 'Time for Change: Action Not Words'. Applications close on 31 December 2022, and more information is available on the website above. 

The team have also been working on a virtual interactive map resource depicting a variety of Black heritage 'hotspots' in Egham and the surrounding areas, so that school students and teachers can learn more about their local history. Watch this space for more information on its development.

Time For Change: Action Not Words

'Action' is at the core of our new EDI governance structure, which was implemented in the last academic year. The College is starting to see tangible outcomes from this work; for example, an external review of our recruitment process has identified new practices we can adopt to ensure we reach a diverse applicant pool, and offer an inclusive and fair recruitment experience to all applicants. 

We have also launched a new suite of EDI training which is mandatory for all colleagues: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, Unconscious Bias, Allyship, and Bullying and Harassment. These courses are designed to provide a fundamental basis for understanding issues around inequity and inclusion in an intersectional way. This includes the legislative context and microaggressions, with specific examples about race.

These courses offer opportunities for us to reflect on the impact of our practices, and how we can play a key role in promoting a fair and inclusive culture. They provide practical tools to have the confidence to interact in an inclusive and supportive way, and challenge discriminatory practices if we come across them, moving from theory to action.

A current focus is also on empowering our managers and leaders to be inclusive through investing in upcoming Inclusive Leadership training. We have also offered Race Awareness and Race Inclusion training to our Senior Leaders, to enhance both learning and practice. 

However, we know that training alone is not enough without implementation of action. We are working hard to remove individual, cultural and systemic barriers to inclusion and development, and ensuring that all work relating to promoting awareness around equality and inclusion, including race inequality, are acknowledged, valued and considered in College processes. 

Additionally, our upcoming Conversations About Race sessions are designed to create safe spaces for our community of students and colleagues to engage in meaningful, honest, and at times challenging discussions about their experiences of race, regardless of their background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Further links

Black History Month 2021

Black History Month 2020

Black History Month 2019

Black History Month 2018

Black and Global Majority Staff Network