Written by Owen Lewis (Business Team Entrepreneurship Student and BGSU Campaign Officer)
Black History Month commemorates the difficulties and discrimination thousands have faced throughout history, along with celebrating the individuals who challenged society and helped to change the world.
It is important that as a society we acknowledge atrocities that have taken place along with how we have treated others and make it the mission of all people, no matter their race, to promote equality.
University campuses offer a unique place to accomplish this. While the world outside of university is not always inclusive, student communities are often incredibly welcoming and open, with members focusing on shared experiences rather than physical or personal differences. Students at BGU also have an additional opportunity to promote positive values. With many of them training for a future in education they have the chance to guide the next generation to create a fairer society.
That is why Black History Month is especially important to students at BGU. Since it was first celebrated here in 1987 it has reminded both educators and students of the impact of what we teach and how we influence other people.
In the city of Lincoln, the majority of people are able to access nearly all the facilities they require but there are still people around the world who don’t have such luxuries. Some people can only access such luxuries due to the sacrifices and determination of strong hearted individuals.
The sacrifices, determination, celebration and looking to the future is why it’s important for Student Unions to take part in Black History Month. To stand with our students and show them that we will always support students no matter they’re race or where they’ve come from.
One of our students at BGU summed up what Black History Month meant to her: “For me it means not judging anyone for the colour of their skin but for the person they are, too many people judge on first impressions. We are lucky to live in a society where most people don’t judge because of your ethnicity but unfortunately some people still do. I think the most important lesson in life is, it’s nice to be nice…no matter what ethnicity you are this rule should always apply.”
At BGU our Student Advice team are always there for students to share their experiences and talk about any issues that they may be facing with both Bishop Grosseteste Students’ Union (BGSU) and Chaplaincy both offering advocacy services for all students. CELT, BGSU and Student Advice are all working to encourage student participation and engagement from our BAME community at BGU.
Throughout the month we talked about a range of influential individuals on our social media and hosted a Black History Month quiz at the end of the month. Alongside our work, the library set up a BAME book stand and space for people to talk about Black History Month and, on the 16th of October, Just Lincolnshire visited campus with a bus that provided BGU students with a space to talk about their own experiences.
Black History Month is more than just remembering what has happened but reflecting on it. In recent decades we’ve made big strides with race being a protected characteristic and making racism illegal but we’re still far from being an equal society. Whether it’s under the breath comments, subtle actions at work or internet comments daily we’re reminded how much work there is still to be done.
To keep to date with what BGSU is working on then follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. You can also find out more information on the BGSU website.