Black History Month has been an ongoing presence on our campus throughout October, with a diverse array of events.
Many writers and activists and various creatives have been invited to speak on a number of panels, with topics ranging from mental health to spirituality.
The Union organised many events and talks which occurred throughout the month.
Last Friday, the ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ project was exhibited at the Union, featuring students who shared their personal stories in a photo exhibition and video, in addition to discussing the beauty of natural hair.
The well-publicised project, named after Solange Knowles’ song, is the first from the new BME Liberation Coordinators at the Union. It has provided a seminal part of events this month, with students across the university getting involved in the photo campaign, in addition to a short film for LSTV.
Coordinator Fatimah Saleem said she felt the event was important to do because the month “is about a celebration of blackness, and hair is incredibly important to Afro-Caribbean communities.” It therefore allowed a space for expression of identity, in addition to educating others.
The exhibition is still present in the Union’s Unipol room, and will remain there for the next two weeks.
Every October Leeds University Union takes part in celebrating Black History Month UK. This year we collaborated with LUU BME Liberation Network to create this powerful short film. This film shows the hair experiences that many black students have faced as a result of having hair which doesn't fit the norm; from the perspective of other students on campus.#BlackHistoryMonth
Posted by Leeds Student Television on Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Another event that took place was organised by Dr Alfonso from the Faculty of Biological Science, entitled ‘Racial Diversity in Science.’ She highlighted the importance of this panel in discussing the applications to sciences at university by BME students vs the number accepted, adding that events like these show they are “interested in finding solutions.”
PhD student Leon Willis spoke about the event, saying talks focused on “the socio-economic issues BME students encounter,” the importance of widening participation to allow BME students into STEM subjects, and what the university can do to improve student experience.
Other events during this past week included a pop-up barbershop in the Union and a Self Care Day that was held on the Roof Garden.
In addition, students interviewed Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tom Ward on the topic ‘Why Is My Curriculum Still White?’ This was based on the popular campaign launched two years ago, discussing and trying to erase the Eurocentric nature of many university courses.
The month of events concluded with a live performance of ‘Meet the Crafts,’ based on their best-selling account of escape from slavery: Running A Thousand Miles to Freedom.