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Black Futures: Innovation & Generation at Trinity

Black History Month 2022 at Trinity features an exhibition of photographic portraits of Black students and their reflections related to the theme ‘Black Futures.’

Award-winning photographer Henry Kamara has built on the body of work created since the first Black History Month celebrations at Trinity in 2020 to document undergraduates and postgraduates of African descent.

This year’s curators and Co-Chairs of the Black History Month Committee, Myesha Jemison and Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez, conceived the theme ‘Black Futures: Innovation & Generation at Trinity’, in which ‘generation’ has dual meanings of ‘creation’ and ‘descendancy/legacy.’

In the introduction to the exhibition, which is on public display in the Nevile’s Court Cloister, they write of the power and potential of the African diaspora to shape the world’s advancement:

In our quest to understand our place in the world and how to best use our talents, we have found ourselves repeatedly and radically inspired by the potential the African Diaspora has in shaping our world’s advancement.

Black people have a long and robust history of using creativity and experimentation as a means of resistance, which inspires progress in science & technology, music, philosophy, community building, and many other areas.

Our theme strives to celebrate the presence and potential of Black members of Trinity College and of Black people generally at the University and beyond.

Drawing on the concepts of ‘sankofa’ – remembering and honouring the past to make positive progress in future – and ‘ubuntu’ – common humanity or ‘oneness’ – the curators invited Black students at the College to respond to the questions: What does ‘Black Futures’ mean to you? What do you hope ‘Black Futures’ can look like at Trinity? What would you like Trinity College and the University of Cambridge to think about as they consider ‘Black Futures’?

First-year English student, India Thornhill, writes in her response:

‘Black Futures’ at Trinity should involve changes to the teaching staff and faculty reflecting the changes happening in the student body. As the numbers of black students at Cambridge increases, the numbers of staff members in the College that we can identify with and relate to should also be increasing.

Languages student, Keziah Justine Reanne Prescod, also in their first year, writes:

In a place like Trinity, I hope that in showcasing ‘Black Futures’, we can recognise the beauty that comes with intersectionality. Although my journey has just begun, I know that within my own ‘Black Future’, I want to make a lasting impact here. My hope is that students and staff of Black heritage can represent themselves during their time here, rather than existing as an admissions statistic.’

Ms Jemison and Ms Hudgins-Lopez said they were excited to open dialogue about ‘Black Futures’ centring ideas and hopes shared by Black students at Trinity.

The Co-Chairs encouraged successive generations of Trinity College students of all backgrounds to get involved in conversation about ‘Black Futures’ via a month-long array of events on the topic.

They thanked the members of this year’s Black History Month Committee for supporting these events: Isuri Ratnayake, Aprajit Mahajan, and Cameron Zhang.

The Co-Chairs plan to continue this work in a forthcoming Trinity Black History Month Society.

Black History Month 2022 ‘Black Futures: Innovation & Generation’, can be viewed in the Nevile’s Court Cloister until 14 November. Members of the public can visit weekdays 12pm-2pm and on Saturdays 10.30am – 12.30pm. Access is via the Backs.   

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