The University of Cumbria in collaboration with AWAZ Cumbria and UCSU hosting a themed conference “Celebrating BAME Heritage in Cumbria” to celebrate Black History Month on Wednesday 30th October 5pm-9pm in the Learning Gateway at the Fusehill Street campus. The conference is due to feature High Sheriff of Cumbria, Mrs Marcia Reid-Fortheringham, Professor Sally Elton-Chalcraft, Peter Foley MBE, Aftab Khan, Philip Hewitson alongside others, closing with a screening of This Place, a 75 minute interview based documentary featuring people from outside the UK and their experience of relocating to Cumbria.
The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Mrs Marcia Reid-Fortheringham said: “I’m really pleased to participate in Cumbria’s Black History Month event. As Cumbria’s first High Sheriff who happens to be black, it is important to acknowledge Cumbria’s positive changes and diversity. Celebrating influential people of difference in and around Cumbria benefits all of us – no matter what our cultural, racial or religious background. Having conferences like this breaks down barriers and increases our tolerances of each other. It can only be considered a good thing!”
Aftab Khan of AWAZ Cumbria highlights the importance of the event by saying, “We are delighted to be involved and are grateful to our partners at the University of Cumbria for hosting this Black History Month event. It is important that we highlight and celebrate the contribution made by Black and Minority Ethnic people to Cumbria’s heritage. Events such as this are important as they help to tackle the root causes of prejudice and hate in our society.”
Lequane Johnson from UCSU explains how this event has impacted his personal journey and the wider student cohort, “The journey I have been on up to this point has been great. From starting the campaign KINSHIP, which inspired so many student to get involved in making the university more diverse has been challenging. To see the work from setting up the African Caribbean Society to establishing external networks to improve engagement, it is amazing to see what we have achieved in organizing the first Black History Month conference here at the University of Cumbria. It has been a great journey and I know it will get better in years to come.”
This conference forms part of the University schedule of EDI events, whereby the University highlights, celebrates and commemorates key diversity dates, with a view to raising awareness of diversity and fostering good relations.
The photography exhibition, produced by M-Unit, which will run from 28th October to 1st November is summarised by Niall McNulty, “We are pleased to be part of this celebration of Carlisle’s BAME culture, organized by the University. As a project, M-Unit has been working to highlight the positive role that people of colour have played in the development and growth of the city and Black History Month is the perfect time to showcase our new portraits project”.
Lee McDermott, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Officer at UoC states, “I am delighted to collaborate with AWAZ Cumbria and UCSU to bring together esteemed guest speakers to highlight key themes under the Black History Month mantle. It is of great importance that areas of underrepresentation are supported in order to drive positive change and this is something that the university aims to achieve through different avenues. As an institution we value diversity and take pride in being a community of equals, where colleagues and students support and learn from one another, creating an enriching environment. We recognise, embrace and value difference, with the view that this will lead to improvements to everyone and invite people to attend this conference as an extension of this”.