A ‘Black Resistance’ conference held by University of Wolverhampton Students’ Union inspired with compelling stories of overcoming prejudice.
University Vice Chancellor Ebrahim Adia opened the event, sharing his experiences of overcoming obstacles to break through preconceptions and become the University of Wolverhampton’s first VC of colour.
Professor Adia spoke about how grateful he was to be at the helm of a university with a wealth of diverse cultures which he said, aligns with his values.
Fellow speaker, award-winning PhD researcher, Ifemu Omari, recounted the story of Mary Prince, an enslaved woman who went on to have her story published, and continues to inspire. Ifemu urged attendees to reach their goals and not let challenges stand in their way.
Writer and commentator Larissa Kennedy, now renowned as a global leader on youth issues and former president of the National Union of Students, reflected on language around Black experience and praised the Students’ Union for empowering its students through the important event. “Every student has the power to be a spark and unleash change”, she said.
Podcasters Nate Israel and Malissa Lewis-Francis spoke about Post Slavery Stress Syndrome as well as ‘critical confidence’ and finding your voice when you feel like an outsider.
The event, attended by around 100 students, was a major feature of celebrations as part of the Students’ Union Black History Year, extending Black History Month celebrations to a full year’s programme reflecting an on-going commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Students’ Union Vice President Opeyemi Adeyemi, who oversees diversity campaigns, said: “This conference supported our Black History Year aims to celebrate Black excellence and resilience. We are proud to be able to have brought opportunities for our students to be involved and welcomed our speakers, including our new Vice Chancellor who is our first VC of colour.
“For me as an international student, Black resistance signifies more than a mere historical relic or a contemporary rallying cry; it embodies a dynamic force, an enduring spirit that challenges the status quo and propels us toward a more inclusive and equitable future.”
Professor Adia, added: “This event was yet another chance for us to continue to celebrate equality and diversity, extending our month-long celebrations of Black History.
“The University was at the heart of the British Black Arts Movement when the BLK Art Group was formed in 1979, with the first national Black Art Convention held at the School of Art in 1982 – over 40 years ago.
“It was a real privilege to speak at this Black Resistance Conference and to have the opportunity to share my life story.”
Nirmla Devi, MBE, CEO of the Students’ Union, added: “We strongly believe Black History should be celebrated every day. This exciting conference was a powerful and memorable feature for us this year. We are very grateful to Professor Adia and our other speakers in embracing this journey with us.”