Succession is one component of Trinity’s first UK Black History Month celebrations. Black History Month was first celebrated in the UK in October 1987, organised by Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. This exhibition documents the students of African and/or Caribbean heritage at Trinity, represented how they wish.
We chose the title Succession for several reasons. First, in biology, succession describes the ecological development of a landscape as it flourishes over time. This, in many ways, describes Trinity’s journey. As more black students arrive and pass through its great gates, the College is changing culturally, and growing and adapting to understand our experiences. Its first Black History Month exhibition is evidence of this.
Second, the word succession connotes the handing over of a title, or the passing down of a tradition. A couple of years ago, Trinity had only six black undergraduates in total; this year there are more than a dozen.
This might seem like a modest increase, but it is significant to those of us who understand the power of representation and community. One reason for this increase is simple: prospective students can see black students in their second and third years here, thus inspiring a new generation of applicants. Succession signifies us sharing our experiences and handing over our voices to the new black students, in the hope that they will flourish and inspire more students next year.
Finally, succession is about moving forward. Black History Month is all about reflecting, celebrating, and mourning the Black Britons of the past. However, amidst this reflection on the past, we want to encourage people to look forward and envision a better society that we can all work towards, one in which we all feel comfortable and accepted.
We hope that you enjoy the exhibition, seek to understand each person’s story, and celebrate the achievements of all the black students of Trinity, past and present.
Serena Cole and Wanipa Ndhlovu