As part of this year’s Black History Month, Edinburgh University Students’ Association has planned a series of events to recognise the contributions made by African and Afro-Caribbean communities to Britain and countries around the world.
Throughout the month of October, the University hopes to shed light on the often overlooked history and heritage of ethnic minority communities within the United Kingdom.
As a member of the Equality Challenge Unit Race Equality Charter, the University of Edinburgh has previously vowed that it will commit itself to raising awareness of issues concerning race equality during Black History Month and beyond.
In recent years, the University of Edinburgh has been praised for hosting a wide range of events that celebrate the diversity of the student population. Equally, this year a varied program of activities has been scheduled throughout the entirety of October.
In particular, Herstory: A photo-Biographic Exhibition, which was displayed in the Potterow Dome between 11-14 October, has received attention for its portraits of Black and Minority Ethnic women students at the University of Edinburgh.
The series of events celebrating Black History Month will culminate with ‘An Evening of Black Excellence’ on October 21 in Teviot Underground. A showcase of Black British performers, poets and musicians will be celebrating the influences of Afro-Caribbean communities in modern British culture.
Nevertheless, the University has received some criticism for not effectively publicising the October Black History Month campaign around University campus buildings.
On Thursday, October 13, the University had planned a student forum to be spearheaded by black and minority ethnic (BME) students from within the university. However, the Race Equality Forum was cancelled due to lack of interest. The Students’ Association has stated that it plans to reorganise the forum and will announce the new date on social media.
Esme Allman, the Black Minority and Ethnic (BME) liberation group convener at the University of Edinburgh, expressed her hopes that Edinburgh University’s Black History Month will enable a “more open and multifaceted conversation” regarding the experiences of ethnic minority students on campus and around the city.
Speaking to The Student, Allman also urged students to attend BME hosted events as “they aim to educate and inspire staff and students across the university”.
With a rise in hate crimes across the country in recent months, many have stressed the importance of maintaining a dialogue with minority communities during this current period.
In a letter written to the UK Black History Month 360 organisation, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It is a time when we can be thankful for the huge progress made in the UK over recent decades in tackling racist attitudes.” May also clarified that “we still have much further to go.”
Image: John Gomez