BHM events: a round-up

This year, LSE kicked off Black History Month with a host of events that discussed a diverse range of socio-economic, cultural and political issues that affect Black students.

On the first week of October, the Caribbean Society held its Meet and Greet and collaborated with student curator Francess Okia on the launch of the BHM Exhibition, displaying blackness as a global concept. On 4 October, LSE Embrace organised The Petrie Museum tour, focusing on collections of Egyptian and Sudanese material.

From 8-14 October, BHM events included a film screening and discussion of ‘Flame in the Streets’ and the Afro-Caribbean Society Wellness Day. LSE EmbRace Network hosted a Lunch and Learn with Professor Abenaa Owusu-Bempah, who gave a talk on the barriers Black defendants face in criminal proceedings, such as the formality of criminal proceedings and courtroom design, the lack of diversity among legal professionals and over-representation of Black people as defendants.

On Monday 21 October, LSE hosted Beyond Black History Month, a panel chaired by Director Minouche Shafik. The event aimed to provoke a school-wide discussion on how to expand BHM activities into the rest of the year and improve race equity at LSE. The panellist discussed ECU’s Race Equality Charter, to which LSE is preparing a submission which will establish hard targets to increase the percentage of Black staff members in LSE’s academic and professional services.

LSE Gen Sec and panellist Zulum Elumogo focused mainly on the importance of representation and making a deliberate and proactive effort for Black people in leadership positions to be seen. “It’s important that we are visible so we can encourage others,” said Elumogo when asked about his participation in the event.

Another panelist, Professor Ijeoma F. Uchegbu from UCL, presented several practical ideas on how LSE can make long-lasting systemic progress in the area of racial equity. Among LSE’s current initiatives is the Eden Centre’s Inclusive Education Plan, which contains mentoring for Black students and funding for Black PhD students. Along with that, Elumogo told The Beaver that he plans to prioritise LSE’s existing BME mentoring program. Last year, in its pilot edition, the program paired 200 students with LSE Alumni.

Elumogo commented on the panel’s attendance, which attracted about 40 people in a discussion type-format rather than a presentation. In terms of demographics, the audience was overwhelmingly Black and 80-90% comprised of women, which to him raised the question, “how can we get broad engagement at these events?”

On the other hand, Mustafa Briggs’ talk “Before Malcolm X. History of Islam in the Americas,” which attracted a full crowd, had a more diverse audience with attendees ranging from those interested in Briggs’ scholarly subject area, LSESU Islamic Society members, and staff from LSE and other universities.

On Thursday 24 October, LSE EmbRace held a Black history walk titled, “Secrets of Soho: a Black History Walk.” Despite the rain, approximately 20 students joined the walk, during which they were guided through different historical events from the local and colonial history of Black people in London.

Maryane Mwaniki, Co-Chair of LSE EmbRace and an organiser of the walk, said to the Beaver, “We really want to be able to ensure that the LSE wider community appreciate Black history in terms of past, present and also looking at the future. We want to ensure LSE is an inclusive place for everyone, from all backgrounds.”

Zahra Henry, an LSE Public Policy student from the Caribbean, told the Beaver after the tour, “I came to the tour because I wanted to get an understanding of what being Black in the UK means now and historically. There were so many Black people who have been living in Western places, like America and the UK and contributed long before the mainstream history tells us.”

The main social event of the week “Party like you’re Fresh Prince” was held at the Three Tuns on Friday 25 October, with 80 people attending at the highest point of the night. The event featured Hip Hop, RnB, Afro-beats, Dancehall, and other genres of African and Caribbean music. “It’s very rare that Black people have a space like that on campus,” commented Elumogo.

On the weekend, LSE hosted the 12th annual Black Achievement Conference. Held on Sunday 26 October, the event was attended by a number of high achieving years 10-13 students as well as LSE students. Deborah Afolabi, who spoke at the conference, told The Beaver, “It is an amazing event and one that is also incredibly inspiring for students of African and Caribbean backgrounds who are considering pursuing higher education.”


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