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Black History Month 2021 talks

Updated Thursday, 17 March 2022

Explore the recorded presentations from The Open University's Black History Month event in October 2021.

Burning work until different: human rights and the Windrush fight

Open University law graduates Anthony Brown and Leonie Shaw-Brown lead a discussion on their inspirational Windrush campaign.


Experience v qualifications: reflections from an OU graduate and sports coach

Allana Francis-Ashmeil is an OU Sports and Fitness student from 2014–2016 who graduated with a BSc (Hons) Sports, Fitness and Coaching. Allana has a strong passion for sport and is currently playing for Walton Casuals Ladies F.C. Allana runs her own business, Project Ace Sports, which she started in November 2017. The company provides different sporting opportunities for children and young people to get involved in. Allana is a now a full time Diversity Lead and Sports Teacher at a prep school in South London. 


Early Ethnic Minority barristers and the Inns of Court

Dr Caroline Derry and Dr Miriam Mbah lead a session exploring the Inns of Court project researching and celebrating the histories of Ethnic Minority barristers and its importance to historians, wider audiences, and particularly students and aspiring barristers. It introduces some of the lives being researched and the exhibition featuring this work.


What works to improve inclusivity in social work education?

In this seminar Dr Claire Felix-Baptiste aims to promote best practice in supporting Black students in social work education. The findings from this study are equally relevant to health and social care professional educators supporting Black students.


Supporting Black declaration of mental health: Black staff at the OU's perspective

Higher education has increased its student and staff populations, and this means there is more strain on pastoral service and resources at universities, as they endeavour to meet the needs of their students. It is possible to assert that perhaps universities are open to diversities when it comes to increasing student population, but close their doors on diversities when it comes to pastoral care service and wellbeing. This seminar will highlight the deficiency in the current approach to mental health at universities and recommend how institutional change will enable inclusivity and ensure this deficit is addressed. With contributions by Dr Emmanuel Nartey, Grace Emiohe, Khadija Patel, Patrice Belton and Darren Gray.


Decolonising scholarship as a commitment to the racial inclusion of students and staff

The session, led by Dr Cinzia Priola, Amna Sarwer and Chinedu Nevo from the Faculty of Business and Law, will focus on approaches to decolonising scholarship (research and the curriculum) from a theoretical and practical perspective. It will also offer tools and resources for staff and research students who are committed to ensuring that people of colour are fully included in the university curriculum and the knowledge produced by OU research. 


A conversation with Rotimi Adebari: first Black mayor in Ireland

Rotimi Adebari (former Mayor of Portlaoise) and Dr Fidele Mutwarasibo will discuss leadership practices that led to Rotimi’s election to the Portlaoise Town Council in 2004 and his subsequent election to Mayor in 2007 and in 2009 to Laois County Council. Rotimi was one of the participants in Fidele’s PhD research, studying leadership and social practices of Black and Minority Ethnic socio-political entrepreneurs involved in high profile civic and political campaigns in Ireland.


Decolonising the university

Across the Higher Education sector, statements of working towards ‘decolonising the university’ are commonplace. However, approaches and understandings of what decolonisation is both in definition and practice tends to differ, due to the absence of a unanimous definition. This presentation explores what we might mean by decolonising the university through a comprehensive decolonial lens, discussing key debates in relation to the curriculum and the university as an institution. Shannon Martin, a PhD student based at The Open University, will discuss her current research project titled ‘Decolonising the University: A Case Study of the Open University’. Dr Suki Haider, Associate Lecturer, will explore current good practice to decolonisation displayed by UK universities. We conclude with suggestions of how the OU can align itself to decolonising themes. Firstly, by joining the University of Sanctuary scheme, offering scholarships to forced migrant students. Secondly, by divesting from fossil fuels.


The role of religious leaders in the Caribbean resistance to colonialism

In this talk, Hilde Capparella gives an introduction to the Maroons and the Caribbean's religious leaders that were pivotal actors in the revolts for colonial liberation. In the Caribbean context ATRs (African Traditional Religions) and the development of ACRs (African Caribbean Religions) as we know them today, have been pivotal to resist colonial slavery, and therefore in shaping Caribbean history. It can be argued that African history did not end with colonialism, but instead continued to develop in the new world. As underlined by D.M. Stewart, the misrepresentation of ACRs as devilish or fetish is the result of centuries of Western race-craft.




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