Imperial College London

Imperial celebrates Black History Month

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Staff and students have marked Black History Month with a series of events to celebrate the impact and presence of the Black community at Imperial.

A special video called ‘Black Voices of Imperial’ (see above), produced by Imperial College London and Imperial College Union’s African Caribbean Society (ACS), has featured students talking frankly about their experience of being a Black person at Imperial.

The students discussed what makes them feel part of Imperial, what the challenges they have faced and reflected on who their role models are.

One of the students interviewed for the video, Jessica Powell (MEng Design Engineering), said: “The Black Community at Imperial is very friendly, bubbly and full of life.”

President of the ACS, Sean Bazanye-Lutu, explained that he had faced some challenges while trying to fit into life at Imperial: “I have faced some challenges being Black at Imperial, I think the main thing is to do with fitting in. I think it is very easy for other people to come and find people they click with, they look like, and who they can really identify with.”

I would say Imperial has very different sides to it, there are some very different communities but everyone can still say that they are a part of Imperial Sean Bazanye-Lutu President of ACS

The students also shared what they are doing to help change the culture at Imperial, and Kitan Oyeleke, Vice President of the ACS, talked about the work she is doing to launch a mentorship programme for low-income Black students who are interested in STEM.

The calendar of events for Black History Month kicked off with a portrait exhibition, of Black People at Imperial, which was organised by Imperial College Union and the ACS. Several trips were also organised, including an art tour exploring the Black heritage collections of the V&A.

Black History Month celebrations at Imperial saw guest speakers such as Angela Saini, author of Superior: The Return of Race Science, and MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, visit Campus to discuss topics such as racism in science and the Black Attainment Gap.

Angela Saini gives lecture
Angela Saini delivered a fascinating lecture on race and science

A collaborative project between the Union and ACS saw the creation of Black People of Imperial, an Instagram account which showcased the stories of Black members of the Imperial community. Similarly, the College’s Imperial People campaign celebrated the work of Black students and staff throughout October.

Images for the project were taken by photographer John Almando. Here is a selection:

  • Debbie, a black Imperial student

    Debbie

  • Seth, a black Imperial student

    Seth

  • Elizabeth, a black Imperial staff member

    Elizabeth

The College recently announced a five-year widening participation plan which included an aim of launching an outreach programme specifically for Black students. This strategy was brought about as a response to data released by the Office for Students which showed a gap in the number of Black students gaining places at the College.


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Rhys Purtill

Rhys Purtill
Human Resources Division

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