25 Oct 2019
Black History Month 2019: A graduate perspective
To mark Black History Month, we spoke to an alumnus about his thoughts on its continued significance and importance.
Dr Ayodeji Akiwowo (PhD Civil and Building Engineering 2012) shared his thoughts:
“I am a senior Data Scientist with BNP Paribas, based at the Solihull office. I am also the founder of Black Excellence (BE), UK.
“Within BE, we have four main strands:
- INSPIRE – identify inspiring black UK professionals in various fields, interview them for their stories and share these interviews on various platforms. They are called BE Achievers.
- ENABLE – provide resources and tools which will enable and empower users in their various endeavours at school, college, university or workplace, and life in general. In the past we have provided work shadowing opportunities, participated at school events, talking to students and giving mock interviews. We will continue to do these while also providing mentoring opportunities.
- PROMOTE – give visibility to businesses and services providing value owned by black entrepreneurs in the UK, irrespective of the size of the business.
- VOLUNTEER – coordinate the volunteers within the BE community.
“I coordinate the INSPIRE section whilst supporting other strands. Within INSPIRE, we have produced several inspiring videos (some in collaboration with Loughborough University) which can be found on our website.”
Q: What is the importance of Black History Month to you?
“Personally, it is important for me that all black people, particularly in the UK, know our history beyond slavery and colonialism. We need to consciously read through history and identify great men and women who contributed to the development and growth of not just this country but the world at large.
“Writers like Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano and inventors like Otis Boykin and Patricia Era Bath amongst others. And where these stories have not been told, we need to tell our own stories. Stories about people like Chichi Nwanoku, Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock, Faith Uwadiae, Nira Chamberlain, Clifford Johnson, and so many others.”
Q: Name something you would like people to reflect on, or act on, during Black History Month
“With BE Promote, we aim to promote businesses and services provided by black entrepreneurs in the UK. It would be nice if you can identify a black entrepreneur in the UK, particularly one who is just starting up and help to promote their business on your platform and among your network. Hopefully, you will continue this beyond Black History Month too!”
For more information about the University’s Black History Month events programme, visit the website.
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