Celebrating Black History Month at Trinity

Black History Month at Trinity will feature an exhibition of students’ portraits by Henry Kamara and a film by Sonum Sumaria charting the students’ journeys to the College and their plans for the future.

On 15 October Trinity will host two leading writers in conversation via Zoom and on 27 October the award-winning African Apocalypse, will be screened online, followed by a Q&A with the principal actor, Femi Nylander. The film charts the formation of the Nigeria-Niger border during the French colonial era.

Henry Kamara taking Wanipa Ndhlovu’s portrait in the Antechapel

Trinity students, Wanipa Ndhlovu and Serena Cole, were galvanized by the murder of George Floyd and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to organise the Black History Month programme at Trinity. Wanipa, a third-year Law student, was President of Cambridge’s African Caribbean Society (ACS) for 2019-20, and Serena, a second-year Medical student, is BME Officer of Trinity College Students’ Union.

Trinity Freshers, Michelle Acheampong, who is studying Land Economy, and Bijou Kaye, who is studying Law, welcomed the opportunity to participate in Black History Month at the College.

Michelle said:

I am so excited to be part of such a crucial campaign, giving black people like myself the opportunity and platform to celebrate and share our stories. Cambridge Uni & Trinity are amazing, I’ve already met lots of lovely and inspiring people. I hope any prospective black student will see this and feel that they too would be welcomed and appreciated at Cambridge University.

Bijou said:

I am proud to be able to demonstrate the diversity of experiences at Trinity by taking part in the Black History Month celebrations. I never imagined being part of such a monumental event would be possible at Cambridge and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of everyone’s hard work at the exhibition.

This week Cambridge released undergraduate admissions statistics showing a doubling in the number of UK-based black undergraduates admitted to Cambridge this academic year. In total 137 black students were admitted to Cambridge, an increase of just over 50% on 2019/2020, and follows similar growth last year.

Wanipa at an ACS event last academic year

There are now more than 300 black British undergraduates at Cambridge. As ACS President Wanipa introduced a raft of new access events:

It’s honestly incredible to see the growth of the black student intake from when I started til now. At first, to see another black person at your faculty seemed like a luxury, and ACS seemed to be our only home. But now I see more and more black students just being themselves and thriving and it fills me with such pride.

This increase means a lot to me especially given the access initiatives I spearheaded as ACS president last year. Seeing familiar faces among the Freshers from our access initiatives is really an indescribable feeling. I feel blessed knowing that I have left a mark on the University.

With a student body of more than 1200 from many cultures and countries, Trinity is a diverse community. Senior Tutor, Professor Catherine Barnard, acknowledged that more needed to be done to show black students they can and do thrive at the College. ‘Trinity welcomes students from all backgrounds with the potential to do well here.  With two outreach professionals we are engaging with more diverse students from a broader range of schools and Colleges,’ she said.

Former school improvement director, Jon Datta, is Trinity’s new Outreach Coordinator and Lizzie Bowes, who studied English at Newnham College, is the Schools Liaison Officer.

Jon Datta has forged new partnerships with World Class Schools, Target Oxbridge, the Brilliant Club and Parent Power, while strengthening existing collaborations with Villiers Park Educational Trust, Maths Inspiration, NRICH and the Seren Network. He said:

Through our targeted Access and Outreach programmes that engage with young people in underrepresented groups, we demonstrate that a Trinity education is open to all and is based on academic potential and not ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, school-type or any other non-academic characteristic. We will seek to understand the barriers faced by prospective students from BAME backgrounds, and make a concerted effort to help anyone interested in studying at Trinity overcome them.

More details of Trinity’s Black History Month programme will be available soon.

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