Black History Month at Queen Mary
At Queen Mary we will be celebrating Black History Month 2021 with a programme of virtual events, initiatives and communications from 1 - 31 October.
Sheila Gupta, our Vice-Principal of People, Culture and Inclusion welcomes Black History Month 2021 at Queen Mary:
October is with us again – and it is Black History Month!
Black History Month provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the successes and achievements of Black people and recognise their outstanding contributions to British life and around the world. It was originally founded to recognise the contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to this country over many generations.
The substantial involvement of Black people is often overlooked or ignored. One such example is the many brave Black servicemen who served in the World Wars, from those grappling in the mud of the Western Front, to the valiant Caribbean pilots and aircrew in the Second World War, and the heroes who fought further afield in places such as Burma. Another is the efforts made by Black nurses, particularly those of the Windrush generation, who helped to build our National Health Service from its inception after the war; a profession that is now led by a Black woman, Professor Dame Donna Kinnair DBE, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Although progress has been made in recognising and valuing how Black people have shaped our history and society, the pursuit of race equality still faces many challenges and there is, therefore, still much to do. October is a chance to look back at our shared history, whilst also looking to the future and being open and honest about what more needs to be done.
At Queen Mary, diversity has been in our DNA from the outset. Today, we are proud to be a University that opens the doors of opportunity to anyone with the potential to succeed. Our record of success in relation to social inclusion among our undergraduate community sets us apart from other Russell Group universities. We are particularly proud of the progress we have made this year in narrowing the Black achievement gap. As The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide recently put it: “More than three quarters of students [at Queen Mary] are from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds (only four UK universities have a higher proportion) and the Black achievement gap at is among the narrowest, and therefore best, in the country.”
We are also clear on the challenges that remain as we work towards ensuring we are the most inclusive University of our kind anywhere. I am proud of the work we are doing in this area, including through our Race Equality Action Group. I look forward to sharing more with you on this in the coming months, including through our annual EDI Report.
For now, I hope that you enjoy the Black History Month programmes developed by our Students’ Union and colleagues across the University and take the opportunity to learn more about the rich and diverse experiences and contributions that has helped shaped our country and lives.
You can find out more and get involved with our programme of events and initiatives below.