Skip to main content

Black History Month: Reflecting and Reacting

23 November 2021

Writing for the Humanities Research Institute, postgraduate student Tiana Stewart reflects on Black History Month at Newcastle University in 2021. 

The importance of Black History extends beyond the sole month intended to highlight the struggles, triumphs, and culture of Black people throughout history. This article serves as a reference for what took place at Newcastle University during Black History Month and as a guide for how to get involved. This year, Newcastle University’s “Our Black History” campaign was largely organized and run by NUSU Welfare and Equality Officer Briana Gordhan. The campaign included various events and workshops, held both on campus and virtually.  

To recap, one of the many events that took place was the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Blood Drive. The NUSU partnered with We are Donors and the Racial Equality in Medicine Society to run the Blood Drive aimed at highlighting disparities in medicine and the need for BAME communities to donate blood. In another project, the NUSU produced a mini-series titled “Being Actively Anti- Racist", which attempted to persuade listeners that it is not enough to simply be ‘not racist’ and instead make the effort to actively stand against racism. The replay of the mini-series can be found here. The Decolonizing NCL x BHM Panel Discussion sought to provide insight into the Decolonise NCL campaign that was launched last year by the NUSU. The campaign set out to define the meaning of decolonising Newcastle with relation to race. Lastly, the opening of “Claiming Your Space” took place on campus in October. This event is an ongoing art competition aimed at raising awareness of the experiences of BAME students by showcasing their talents through their unique perspectives. Dami Fawehinmi, the lead project curator, spoke to me on the influence of such a competition here on campus;  

“Claiming Your Space is an important part of the new university experience for students of colour, we have the opportunity to act and make a change, to let students express themselves through art and connect with others with similar passions to them. With Black History Month, we have the chance to champion Black voices, not just for one month but continuously. I want CYS to be a safe space, where what we create has an impact and inspires others. We also cannot be the only one like it, we need more exhibitions, competitions and spaces set up for marginalised communities, we need more institutions not just speaking about how bad things are but actually supporting and making a physical difference. The time for change is now and we have the chance to make it happen.”  

Submissions are open until 4 March 2022 and more on the competition can be found here. 

Moving forward, for anyone curious about race, Black History, and ways to get involved, there are many societies around campus ready to accept new members. In addition to the Newcastle University Race Equality Network, other societies include, but are not limited to, the Afro-Caribbean Society, The BAME Union, and the Racial Equality in Medicine Society. All of these societies function with the central objective of sparking conversation, eliminating racial bias, and continuing to learn and educate others on the relevance of Black history, culture, and racial equity in today’s society. More on the NU-REN and how to become a member can be found here 

Tiana Stewart is a postgraduate student from Maryland, USA. She recently graduated with her BA in Global Studies, specializing in Social Entrepreneurship, and holding a minor in Spanish. Presently, she is studying in the International Politics (Globalization, Poverty and Development) MA program. Tiana is passionate about enhancing intercultural competency, assessing global issues, and analyzing international relations. She currently plays on the Women's Basketball 1st team here at Newcastle and in her free time loves to read and travel.

Student Journalist Tiana Stewart

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences