Reflections on Black History Month Professor Tim Soutphommasane, Chief Diversity Officer
Reflections on Black History Month Professor Tim Soutphommasane, Chief Diversity Officer

Reflections on Black History Month, from the University's Chief Diversity Officer

As Black History Month this year draws to a close, the University’s Chief Diversity Officer, Tim Soutphommasane reflects on how Oxford’s community has marked the event, the growing diversity of our students, and developments as part of the University’s Race Equality Strategy. 

Black History Month at Oxford  

Black History Month is an occasion to honour the contributions of Black people throughout history – to British society, and indeed at our own University.

It has been wonderful to see the range of events and activities that have taken place across Oxford this past month, many organised by students. Each has presented a compelling glimpse into untold Black histories and explored the current experiences of Black people in shaping all aspects of society.

Tomorrow, on Tuesday 31 October, the month culminates with the University’s annual Black History Month lecture, delivered this year by Dr Christienna Fryar, on the relationship between British history and Black British history. 

The importance of students  

You, our students, are at the heart of our efforts on equality. The growing diversity of our community – both undergraduate and postgraduate – reflects how change is happening within Oxford.

Our aspiration on this is simple. We are committed to ensuring we attract the best and brightest students, from all backgrounds, and to ensure we find every way to enrich your experience during your time here.

Looking ahead  

There is still much more for us to do. As much as we celebrate the rich diversity across our University, we must also reflect on the legacies of the past, and the ongoing challenge of achieving racial equality.

In the past year, we have started implementing a Race Equality Strategy, building on the hard work of many students over the past decade.

This includes work on preventing bullying and harassment and the engagement of the wider University community to address racism. During this academic year we are also developing a University-wide Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan and I look forward to sharing more on this with you in due course. 

How you can get involved  

The voice of students is critical to all this work. Do get in touch with me and the team at the Equality and Diversity Unit if you would like to be part of this. Through your ideas and inspiration, you can help shape the Oxford of today and the future.  

Equality and Diversity Student Associate opportunity

Students are invited to join the Equality and Diversity Unit as Student Associates, on a part-time basis for 12 weeks. Two positions are available to apply for before 5pm on Monday 6 November. 

This year's Black History Month has been particularly poignant, in light of the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush. The Windrush’s passengers, most from the Caribbean, were the first arrivals of the many thousands of Commonwealth citizens who helped rebuild the nation following the Second World War. 

Tim Soutphommasane is the University’s Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of Practice in Human Rights and Political Theory at the Department of Politics and International Relations. His research focuses on questions of patriotism, multiculturalism, race, human rights and leadership.