Black history month graphic

How is Cheltenham celebrating Black History Month?

The month of October signifies many things, but it is also Black History Month. This is a significant time of year for many, as it allows a whole community to share their past and have their voices heard.

At an initial glance it may seem like nothing had been prepared by the Student Union for the month but talking to the president Luc Brown, he has assured there are things on the books from the student union to celebrate black voices during Black History Month. Which is very important for the students of colour at the university, to see themselves represented at the university.

He said, “We have been getting suggestions and inputs from our students around 4 different areas of Black history or current culture that inspire them! 

We’ve put a story up on Instagram and directed people there, and would love students to contribute to that, and then we’ll share all of the different inputs in an informative and educational way, creating a saved story and space to reflect, educate, inspire and celebrate.”

You can see their story highlights for Black Lives matter and Black History Month student unions page on Instagram @uogstudentunion. There are also weekly posts promoting black figures from the past and present.

To see what other students had to think about Black History month and how it was being handled this year, following the Black Lives Matter protests during summer this year and the format changes that had to be implemented due to Coronavirus. 

Sara Hoga, President of the Afro Caribbean Society had this to say on their society ran events for Black History Month, “Due to the climate that we are in the society thought it is best to do online events. 

These events will mainly be debates and finding an effective solution that will educate everyone.”

As part of the Cheltenham’s Black History Month events being hosted by The University of Gloucestershire in accordance with Gloucestershire History Association and Lives of Colour, on Wednesday the 7th of October Dr Yvonne Battle-Felton spoke to a group of engaged listeners about her book Remember. 

Dr Yvonne Battle-Felton photo taken by Topher McGrillis.

In the middle of Dr Battle-Felton talking about her novel, the Zoom call was interrupted and disturbed by people joining only to play loud music over the speaker and to shout profanities aimed at Dr Battle-Felton. 

Following the incident, she assured us that this had never happened before because she usually takes the extra precaution to keep her talks a safe space. Unfortunately, this time due to some problems with teams, the call had to be quickly switched over to zoom to commence the Q&A she was conducting about her novel.

After the call Dr Christian O’Connell from the Universities history faculty sent out an email regarding the interruptions. He said “I wanted to apologize for the technical issues that plagued the evening and prevented many people from joining the talk. 

After a long delay, we improvised a solution and ran the event on Zoom, which Dr Battle-Felton kindly organized.

Once this transition took place, someone joined to talk only to abuse the speaker. 

This awful situation forced us into ‘locking’ the event which unfortunately prevented other people from joining.”

This incident put a damper on the otherwise happy talk, but it did not put off Dr Battle-Felton and she continued like nothing had happened. 

Other events have put a strict registration process in place – even for free events – to stop this from happening. But it is difficult as online events are hard to keep under control when you want as many people as possible in attendance.

To attend some Black History month talks and debates online you can check out and and put a filter for Gloucestershire. The next big talk happening on the 19th of October, being held by Dr Melissa Bennett over zoom.

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