Skip to content

As October came around, a global celebration of Black history began: Black History Month.

It is also a time for reflection on the colonial history of Warrington and Chester. These local places are part of a global history that is characterised by colonial legacies. In all parts of the UK, we walk past buildings, statues, and other spaces that have been built using wealth derived from colonialism.

With this in mind, I arrived for the Black History Month: Time for Change event at the University Centre Warrington. We had three speakers from different departments within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. I mingled with the speakers and a couple of attendees with tea and coffee before it began; in the meantime, online attendance was burgeoning as students and staff began to wait for the first speaker. It is clear that the University of Chester is excited for such a celebration of, and to be educated on, Black history.

For our first speaker, we had Dr Donna Jackson, from the Department of History and Archaeology. In her presentation, she covered the history of Affirmative Action throughout America up until the modern day. Jackson highlighted the importance of ensuring that all people have equality of outcomes through the equity of opportunity. In my opinion, this talk highlighted the importance of understanding that Black history is not only global but ongoing: twenty-five years from now, it will still be important to understand the legacy of the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement no matter one’s country of residence.

Second, we had Dr Joe Rigby, from the Department of Social and Political Science, who argued that the 'White working class' is a historical myth used by right-wing populists to garner support. Rigby’s insight reiterated that understanding colonial history is very important for understanding contemporary politics. He further pointed out the University’s efforts to decolonise by changing the name of another University building in Warrington to Sarah Parker Remond Building, which coincided with International Women’s Day, in 2021. Remond was an American anti-slavery campaigner who gave several lectures in Warrington throughout the Nineteenth Century.

Finally, we had Arfana Ali, a postgraduate student and former Race Advocate. Arfana covered her experiences within the minority of a small and majority-White town. She also covered her experiences as an undergraduate student and Race Advocate at the University. Although retelling her story must have been difficult, as one attendee pointed out, stories like this are extremely important for understanding Black history. Her story reveals that colonial legacies of racism are still with us to this day and that we cannot forget how much of an impact education has on combating racism in society.

The amazing academic discourse at the event highlighted the importance of the Race Advocates in ensuring that all students and staff regardless of race, gender, or ability, are treated equally.

Another Arts, Humanities and Social Science event of interest will be The BIG Debate: Faith and the Climate Crisis on the 15th November, 2022, also taking place at University Centre Warrington.

Share this content