Black History Month is officially underway and this year the national theme is ‘Saluting our Sisters’ to pay homage to black women who have had their contributions ignored or voices silenced. You can read more about the theme this year on the Black History Month website.
The University of Reading is hosting a number of events this year to honour Black History Month. The flagship event will be on the 19th October, In Conversation with Dr Deborah Husbands. Dr Husbands will be joining us from the University of Westminster to share her expert insights and lived experiences, the impact of the BME Network she founded and its impacts on colleagues, as well as covering PhD research and the focus on BME students and their sense of belonging. This event is open to all – public, staff, and students.
Black History Month is more than just a month. The stories, experiences, and achievements of Black women are numerous and long in their history and the resonances of the impact are felt today. I hope to introduce some of them to you.
Olive Morris passed away at the age of just 27, but during her short life, she campaigned for the rights of Black people across England in Manchester and South London.
Olive was a founding member of groups like the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and the Brixton Black Women’s Group and is known as an important civil rights figure.
We remember her.
Another event we are excited to deliver is our Saluting our Sisters event. This is a collaborative event between Women@Reading and the B.A.M.E. and Allies Network. In order to honour the National Black History Month theme this year, we are learning from the experiences and celebrating the accomplishments of our Black female community members here at Reading. This event takes place on the 26th October and is open to all. We hope to see you there.
Take the story of Phillis Wheatley, a young girl born in West Africa in 1753. She was sold into slavery to work for a family called the Wheatleys and was put onto a ship – the Phillis – that she was named after.
Her name was erased, but still she used words to give shape to her power. She was taught to read and write and, by the age of 14, she wrote her first poem.
At 21, she published her first book which made her the first African-American poet to be published, with her first volume of poetry in 1773.
We remember her.
Artistry, in a variety of forms – music, art, poetry – is abundant and permeates Black cultures. We want to be able to showcase this talent. As part of Black History Month, the Reading Students’ Union will be hosting a Black Arts Showcase. This Showcase will host artistic works from our Black students and local community members in Reading. This event will take place on the 19th October at 16:00 – 23:00 in the 3Sixty room in the Reading Students’ Union building. Email Gabe James, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kayleigh Fryer, email@example.com, for more information. The event is open to all – public, staff, and students.
If you are a staff member or a student and want more music in your life this BHM, you can also join the Limpopo Groove Drumming Workshop taking place on the 10th October from 12:00 – 13:00 in the SU. Spaces are limited so make sure to contact firstname.lastname@example.org first! You can also join us for many different screenings on at the Reading Biscuit Factory.
We wish you a fantastic Black History Month, where we remember our history, we acknowledge it, and celebrate the successes of Black women across the world.
As ever, best and be well,
— Your Diversity and Inclusion Advisor.