Celebrating Black History Month at the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester and the University of Leicester Students’ Union has today launched a programme of events celebrating Black History Month 2021, which commences today (Friday 1 October). 

This year’s celebrations are focused on the theme Proud to Be, with an emphasis on intersectionality, where staff and students will be encouraged to consider how other aspects of identity relate to the lived experiences of those identifying as Black.

In addition, Black History Month 2021 will continue to build upon the pledges made by the University of Leicester’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, to broaden access to higher education. 

As part of the month’s celebrations, the University has today launched the flagship Leicester Institute for Inclusion in Higher Education (LIIHE), an interdisciplinary research institute that will seek to lead a transformation in higher education through innovative research. 

The new Institute will be led by Dr Paul Campbell, an award-winning academic and lecturer in the sociology of race and inclusion at the University of Leicester, who has been appointed Director.

Professor Canagarajah said: “We are proud to be a part of a diverse community of staff and students, and this October, we are celebrating Black History Month 2021.  

“In our Centenary year and as Citizens of Change, it is important to recognise how valuable it is to have such a diverse student body; Black History Month gives us another opportunity to particularly recognise the contributions of our Black staff and students. 

“With events, activities and talks throughout this month centring on the themes of intersectionality and activism, please do get involved and find out more about Black History Month and the people who make it.”

Nic Farmer, Liberation Officer 2021/22 at the University of Leicester Students’ Union said: “Black History Month is commencing and I am so excited for everyone to get involved with the events both the University and Students’ Union have put on this year.  

“Our commitment to showcasing a variety of Black voices continues to shine through - let us remember our past whilst continuing to celebrate those making history in the present.”

As part of the events organised for 2021, there will be opportunities to highlight the achievements and contributions of our Black students and staff, both past and present, in challenging racism, and promoting the University’s commitment and work to tackle racial harassment through the theme Together Against Harassment.

Other highlights include a signature event exploring how racial inequalities have been tackled, past and present through activism in the 1960s and today. Activism against racism past, present and future with Sir Geoff Palmer, Divine Maduka, Nic Farmer will run as part of the University’s Our 100 Centenary celebrations.

In addition, a workshop with Melz Owusu, founder of the Free Black University, whose work explores decolonisation, the radical Black imagination and building transformative worlds. Called Ungendering Blackness, the workshop will explore the themes of gender, spirituality and love. 

The month-long celebrations will also be used as an opportunity for reflection, learning and looking forward to the future. Black History Month aims to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora, whilst highlighting current issues and achievements that have affected the black community.

Leicester is one of the most diverse universities in the UK. Upon joining the University of Leicester, Professor Canagarajah pledged to eliminate this ‘awarding gap’ by 2025, which sees many students missing out on top degrees. The University currently has an awarding gap of 9% compared with the national 13%.

The artwork for Black History Month was created by Ejow Ono, a talented Black artist from Leicester who specialises in specialises in digital artwork illustration.

More information about Black History Month 2021 and the upcoming events can be found at le.ac.uk/black-history-month.