As we enter October, it’s important to remember that it’s also Black History Month, a month in which we “celebrate the achievements and contributions of the black community within our society.” At Christ Church, we run the Black History 365 (BH365) campaign, Closing Our Gap, to ensure we celebrate and acknowledge Black history and achievements all year round, rather than just once a year.
In recent years, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought attention to the difficulties and systemic injustices that the Black community faces daily. They are then also given the extra burden of being expected to fix it, as if this isn’t a weight for us all to share and solve together. Due to this, this year’s Black History Month theme is Time for Change: Action Not Words. Reminiscent of the famous motto “deeds not words” chanted by the suffragettes while campaigning for women’s rights, the title is a clear and concise mission: do not simply talk about change, make change happen.
What you do is far more important than what you say, and it’s time to stop being a passive bystander – step forward, do something about what you are seeing, and practice what you preach.
While it is a great time to be supporting and commemorating Black culture, history and heritage, this month is also a reminder that we all have a part to play in calling out racism and discrimination, in whatever context and institution it appears in, and that allyship isn’t a flimsy thing – it’s something to practice, to improve, and to hold true to when the moment arrives.
While we will be putting that extra focus on Black History Month across our social media channels and within the university, with a number of BH365 events running, here’s just a few of the many accomplishments that hav come out of the Black community within the UK this year:
- In July, Kemi Badenoch, a woman of Nigerian descent, a member of Parliament and the previous Minister for State of Local Government, Faith and Communities and Minister of State for Equalities, made it to the top five in the race to be the new Conservative Prime Minister.
- In June, a monument honouring the Windrush Generation (the half-million Caribbeans who arrived in Britain from 1948 – 1971 to start new lives) was unveiled in Waterloo Station. The sculpture, by artist Basil Watson, depicts a man, woman and child in their “Sunday best” atop a mountain of suitcases, holding hands and representing the “hope and aspirations of their generation” as they came to the UK.
- Also in June, the first black female Bishop was approved by Her Majesty The Queen. Dr Rosemarie Mallet, who was consecrated on the 24th of June, is now the second Barbadian Bishop of Croydon, the first being Rt Revd Wilfred Wood, who served as Bishop from 1985 to 2003. Dr Mallet served as Equalities Commissioner in Lambeth for five years, and now focuses on reducing serious youth violence through her role as an adviser to a Croydon community action project.
- South-East London Museum, the Horniman Museum and Garden, has returned 72 stolen treasures back to Nigeria. The chair of the museum said in a statement that it was “moral and appropriate” to return the objects to their rightful owners.
And here’s a brief overview of events – both BH365 and not – that Christ Church will be running this month:
- Thursday, 6October, 3pm: Veg Box Meeting – have your say in the campus veg box project; Laud Lg20, Canterbury Campus
- Until Friday, 7 October: MA Exhibition; Daphne Oram, Canterbury Campus
- Tuesday, 11 October, 7 – 8pm: ‘Kent’s Black Edwardian Priest – the story of James Arthur Harley 1873 – 1943’; St Paul’s Church, Canterbury
- Tuesday, 11 October, 2:30 – 4:30pm, via Zoom: Climate Justice, Criminal Justice – academic seminar
- Saturday 15th onwards: Canterbury Festival – Kent’s art festival
- Saturday 15th onwards: Ancient Lives: Archaeological Finds exhibition; Verena Holmes Building, Canterbury Campus
- Tuesday, 18 October, 9am – 5pm: Social and Environmental Justice for a Sustainable Future Conference; Verena Holmes, Canterbury Campus
- Thursdays 20 and 27 October, 10am – 1pm: Carbon Literacy Training sessions, parts 1 and 2, follow the link to book; Canterbury Campus
- Friday, 21 – Saturday 22 October: Festival of Heritage, Creativity and Culture; across Canterbury Campus
- Friday, 21 October, 9am – 4pm: First Encounters: Kent Modern Slavery Conference; St Mary Bredin Church, Canterbury
- Monday, 24 October, 7:30pm: Songs from my Soul – charting the story of Jamaican immigrant Aretha and her 2nd generation daughter, Ginger, through song and spoken word; Canterbury Festival, The Malthouse Theatre, Canterbury
- Thursday, 27 October 12 – 3pm: Refillable van – zero-waste pop-up shop; Verena Holmes Plaza, Canterbury Campus
- Every Tuesday, 5 – 7pm: Chooseday Chill – student wellbeing drop-in; Augustine House
- Every Wednesday, 12 – 4pm: Potter and Prune – gardening and relaxing in Johnson Wellbeing Garden; Canterbury Campus
- Every Wednesday, 4:30 – 6pm: Creative Connections – gentle, no pressure arts and crafts; Augustine House AH3.21
- Every Friday, 2 – 3pm: Lego Connect – student wellbeing activity; Chapel, Canterbury Campus
Have a happy and safe Black History Month, and we hope to see you at some of our excellent talks and events this month!
Getting Involved with Black History at CCCU
By Bethany Climpson, Sustainability Engagement Assistant