College celebrates Black History Month  

Solihull College & University Centre is joining many organisations across the UK in celebrating Black History Month throughout October. 

The annual observance has been celebrated nationwide for more than 30 years and was originally started to recognise the contribution that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to the UK over many generations. The College has a number of initiatives in place this month that aim to educate and inform. 

Building Services Lecturer Lionel James was the first ever Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Regional Chairman of black origin in any of the 16 Regional committees in the institutions 125-year history. The institution now consists of CIBSE Members in 94 countries outside the UK and has over 20,400 members worldwide.  

Lionel understands why Black History Month should be celebrated within the College and within his industry. He comments: “I believe it is so important that all students and their lecturers should know more and share the history of black individuals who have made contributions to the growth and success of the Construction and Engineering Industries in the West Midlands and UK. When my Father first arrived in England from Jamaica in 1960, the only work anyone would give him so he could earn a living to care for his family, was as a Labourer on a Construction site in Birmingham, working outside in all conditions.  There are so many unknown people of black origin who have contributed in prominent ways but very little is known about them. Hopefully, one day, there will be no need for a ‘Black History Month’ to celebrate, because black history will be spoken about and be as commonplace as any other historical event in the West Midlands and the UK.” 

Student competitions will be running across college this month, including creative poster submissions on the theme of black British history. Posters can be focussed on a particular event or historical figure and can be created digitally or by hand with winners receiving an Amazon voucher. 

Maninder Padam, Lecturer in Visual Arts for the College has given her graphic design students the poster competition as an ongoing project. She states: “The students have enjoyed enquiring about historical and present events surrounding black history. This has not only encouraged debate but as a group have looked the positive contributions made such as the arts, music and culture. We look forward to seeing the results of their first live project.” 

Resources will be accessible to students via the student hub all month with student BAME officer Fatima Mai-Bornu designing an informative bitesize tutorial about some of Britain’s forgotten history.