This year's BHM theme and what's going on around campus
Our Diversity and Inclusion team explains this year’s theme of Black History Month:
Saluting our Sisters and Matriarchs in Black History, its importance in the year we celebrated 75 years of Windrush and what’s going on around campus and Liverpool for Black History Month 2023.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the rich tapestry of Black people’s contributions to the world.
The conversation surrounding race is both complex and crucial. It encompasses discussions on systemic racism, social justice, inequality, and the lived experiences of individuals from diverse racial backgrounds. However, an often overlooked but essential element of this dialogue is the role of history. History is the lens through which we can better comprehend the origins and persistence of racial disparities. It serves as a mirror reflecting the triumphs and tragedies of the past, highlighting the experiences of oppressed communities, as well as the systems and policies that perpetuated racial discrimination. Without historical context, discussions on race can remain shallow and disconnected from the roots of the issues at hand. To truly understand the present and work towards a more equitable future, we must acknowledge that history is not just a passive backdrop but an active participant in shaping the racial dynamics of society.
This year’s theme: Saluting our sisters and matriarchs in Black history
It is important to emphasise the theme of this year’s Black History Month: '’Celebrating Our Sisters, Saluting Our Sisters, and Honouring Matriarchs” which underscores the pivotal role that Black women have played throughout history in advancing social justice, culture, and community.
To celebrate this year’s theme, we spoke to Black women within our staff and student community and asked what it means to them:
Shaquita Corry, JMSU Vice President: Education: "For me it’s so important to highlight the intersectionality of race and feminism and this theme does that really well as the struggles of Black women are so complex and overlooked."
Bukola Fatokun, Liverpool Business School Lecturer: “It means our sisters matter no matter their stories: those who are just budding and those making effort to grow and blossom in their life’s journey. Those who are blazing the trail, thriving in uncharted terrains, and achieving great feats despite many challenges. Those who are surviving tough seasons and working behind the scenes and are yet unseen. Many are unsung heroes and award-less icons yet beacons of hope to families and people in their communities. These are true celebrities whose lives, positive impacts, creativity, inspirations, talents, and great potentials we will continue to intentionally laud. Celebrating our sisters means showcasing our rich cultural identities with harmony and courage! Sisters, you've got my back and I've got yours.”
Moni Akinsanya, Associate Director, Diversity and Inclusion: "This Black History Month, themed 'Saluting our Sisters,' we celebrate the enduring legacy of Black women, past and present. Their courage and accomplishments illuminate the path to a brighter future for all. As we pay homage to these trailblazers, we acknowledge the journey ahead and our shared responsibility in ensuring that every voice is heard and valued."
This Black History Month emphasises the pivotal role that Black women have played throughout history in advancing social justice, culture, and community.
From civil rights activists like Rosa Parks and Audre Lorde to literary giants such as Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. Women like Mary Seacole, a Jamaican-British nurse who served on the front lines during the Crimean War. She is often referred to as "The Black Florence Nightingale" for her contributions to healthcare.
Black women have been at the forefront of transformative movements and have gifted the world with their wisdom, strength, and creativity. This month, we pay homage to the matriarchs who have not only shaped our shared history but have also continued to inspire us all, reminding us that their contributions are an essential part of the Black story.
Celebrating the Windrush Generation
As we mark Black History Month 2023, it’s also important to mark another pivotal point from earlier in the year when we celebrated 75 years of Windrush.
Eminent among the many remarkable stories of resilience and perseverance is that of the Windrush Generation, a testament to the enduring spirit of Black individuals who overcame adversity to build a brighter future.
The term "Windrush Generation" refers to the wave of Caribbean immigrants who arrived in the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1971. They were named after the ship HMT Empire Windrush, which brought the first group of Caribbean migrants to the UK in 1948. These individuals, often coming from countries like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, were brought in to help rebuild post-war Britain.
Upon arrival, life for the Windrush Generation in the UK was not without its challenges. Many faced racism, discrimination, and a lack of social support. Their struggles and challenges were immense. Despite this, they worked tirelessly to establish themselves, taking on essential jobs such as nursing, public transportation, and construction, contributing significantly to the UK's post-war recovery.
In recent years, the Windrush Generation made headlines again, this time due to the Windrush Scandal. Even though they are British citizens, some of them faced deportation threats and denied access to healthcare and social services due to immigration documentation issues. This controversy highlighted the systemic racism that persists in immigration policies and the importance of recognizing and addressing historical injustices.
The Windrush Generation played a pivotal role in shaping British culture. They brought with them their vibrant traditions, music, and cuisine, enriching the cultural tapestry of the UK. Reggae music, for example, became an integral part of British popular culture, and Caribbean food has become a popular gastronomic option in major cities throughout the nation. Obviously, the legacy of the Windrush Generation is multi-faceted. They not only contributed to the rebuilding of Britain but also paved the way for future generations of Black individuals to thrive in the UK. Their struggles and achievements are a testament to the resilience and strength of the Black community, inspiring younger generations to embrace their heritage and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
Black History Month at LJMU: events on campus and around the city
As part of Black History Month students can get involved in events with John Moores Students’ Union, including Black History Month film screenings, anti-slavery day walking tours plus workshops with the Diversity and Inclusion team. Find out more and register for the Black History Month events.
The Ebroje Azanuwha Memorial Lecture is taking place on Thursday 19 October, 5:30pm in the John Foster Buidling 1.21. The event is free and will be delivered by LJMU English graduate Ashleigh Nugent who has recently published the novel Locks with Picador. You can find out more information and register for the event here.
Staff across LJMU are also encouraged to get in touch with the Diversity and Inclusion team with any events planned.
There will be lots of activities happening across campus throughout the month, so keep an eye on the LJMU social media accounts for more information.
You can also find out event happening across Liverpool on the Culture Liverpool website.
As we celebrate Black History Month it's important to remember and honour the Windrush generation and the many Black sisters and matriarchs who have broken through double glazed glass ceilings to achieve what they have.
Their story is a reminder of the importance of recognising the contributions and sacrifices of Black individuals throughout history and let their experiences serve as a call to continue the fight for equality and justice for all.