Black History Month 2021 at Trinity features a compelling exhibition of photographic portraits of students and their testimonies, alongside a new film by Sonum Sumaria.
Award-winning photographer Henry Kamara has created portraits of undergraduates and postgraduates of African and/or Caribbean heritage new to Trinity, building on last year’s creative work for Black History Month.
The theme this year is Community. President of Trinity College Students’ Union and Black History Month Steering Group lead, Serena Cole, writes in the introduction to the exhibition:
Each person’s experience is unique. The portrait series celebrates the individual’s relationship to the community and values them as an integral member. We have added the newcomers into the exhibition this year to welcome them to Trinity. This will help, we hope, to reflect a part of a student’s identity back at them and contribute towards a more congenial environment.
Modern and Medieval Languages undergraduate, Innes Adenuga, writes in her testimony that studying at Cambridge was ‘nothing less than a dream come true’ for her parents and family; and a complex experience for her personally.
To hear my parents talking to friends and family in Nigeria about how their last born now goes to Cambridge, never fails to bring me joy. My time here so far has been marked by developing an overwhelming sense of self. Feeling so seen yet so unseen at the same time. However, the amazing people I’ve encountered on my journey thus far are a sure highlight.
Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez, a Gates Cambridge Scholar studying for an MPhil in Social Anthropology, said that for her, being a member of Trinity was ‘an honour and a privilege, but it’s also a call to action for me.’
While I have worked extremely hard to be here, many other Black students are equally qualified to be in this space. To be a member of Trinity is an honour and a privilege, but it’s also a call to action for me. Black students are worthy of intentional support and space in institutions of learning like Trinity College. During my time here, I am eager to work to leave Trinity as a space where Black students can thrive.
Senior College figures including the Master, Dame Sally Davies, and the Director of Admissions, Dr Glen Rangwala, have engaged with the student-led initiative.
Dr Rangwala said that while the number of UK black students at Cambridge had increased substantially in recent years through targeted outreach, partnerships with organisations such as Target Oxbridge, the Stormzy Scholarships, and student access activities including through the African Caribbean Society, there was more work to be done.
All credit to those who gave up their time, effort and money to take part in this work. Trinity, like the rest of the University, is changing – even if the pace of change is slower than many of us would like.
Trinity students are ‘both our strongest advocates and our sternest critics,’ he writes.
I know from working with our student ambassadors who are committed to enabling students like themselves to apply to and get into Cambridge that they think carefully and cleverly about the purpose of education. They appreciate all that is on offer at Cambridge, while also considering seriously how to improve it – and their role in bringing about that change.
Watch students discussing their experiences in Community: a short film by Sonum Sumaria.
Community: an exhibition is online and in the Nevile’s Court Cloister, 25 October – 12 November 2021.