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Why Black History Month Matters

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Our University was founded in 1946 to ‘win the peace through education’, this has guided our values and mission to the present day. At the heart these values is our commitment to social inclusion and equality.

Worcester’s approach to inclusion has led to many awards, including in this year being shortlisted for University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards, for the second year running, and shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to Equality and Diversity and Inclusion as well as Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2020.

In the same year as the foundation of the University, the U.S. Supreme Court came to a decision in Morgan v. Virginia that found segregated bus seating was unconstitutional. The following year, sixteen men, eight black and eight white, set out from Washington DC on the ‘First Freedom Ride’. Their journey was to challenge the unconstitutional segregation rules between black and white passengers on interstate buses. The men were from a diverse range of backgrounds, including a lecturer and university student, were united in their commitment to challenge inequality through nonviolent direct action. They faced many threats, including the prospect of physical violence and for some, arrest. This moment in history was pivotal to inspire others within America and across the globe to challenge inequality and seek inclusion. In 1961 Freedom Riders, modelled on the events in 1947, challenged segregation in bus terminals in the American South. They encountered brutality and arrest when they tried to use ‘whites-only’ toilets and cafes, their bravery brought international attention to the civil rights movement. Their actions inspired other Freedom Riders and later that year the political pressure forced the ending of segregation in interstate transport terminals. 

Seventy-three years later, there has been much progress and legal reforms both in the US and here in the UK. However, the events of the past twelve months challenge us to learn further from history and seek long-lasting progress in race equality. 

Education & Celebration

Black History month plays a key role in improving knowledge of black history, culture and heritage. 

It provides an opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the accomplishments of black individuals throughout history. This includes celebrating and elevating the works of black authors, musicians and actors as well as black academics. 

This time is also taken to celebrate our local black history. We have been working with partners in the community to celebrate local black history. 

Beyond Black History Month

There are lots of activities, workshops and campaigns to get involved with over the coming month. However, it is important that we continue to celebrate and remember black history beyond the end of October. 

As a partnership we want to commit to continue to work towards the integration of black history into the activities of both the Students’ Union and the University. Throughout October we will be sharing our commitments to talk about race, address racial inequalities and make and facilitate positive change, both within the University and the community, to support and celebrate the black community. 

We all have a duty to learn from the past, challenge the present and create a more just future. Sixteen people inspired a generation. What will you do? 

Meg Price (Students' Union President) and Ross Renton (Pro Vice-Chancellor Students)

Keep up to date with everything going on throughout Black History Month here: www.worcsu.com/blackhistorymonth


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