October 9, 2015, by Michael Jennings

#BlackLivesMatter: Black History Month at the Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R)

In this blog post, Timo Schrader and Rosemary Pearce, Centre for Research in Race and Rights Directors, discuss their programme of events this October.

In 1965, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, both the United States and the United Kingdom signed fundamental Civil Rights acts into law: the Voting Rights Act in the US and the Race Relations Act in the UK. This year’s Black History Month at The University of Nottingham, spearheaded by the Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R), is celebrating the 50th anniversaries of these legislative acts and at the same time assessing the ongoing, transatlantic movement Black Lives Matter as a stark reminder that racial inequality is still far from being a thing of the past. As the killings of Black men and women in the US and UK have become more and more visible in the last few years in mainstream and social media (#SayTheirNames, #ICantBreathe, #HandsUpDontShoot), thousands of protests and activist campaigns have made it very clear that #BlackLivesMatter. It is fitting that Black History Month at The University of Nottingham culminates in C3R’s first annual October Dialogues conference which discusses the Black Lives Matter Movement in a series of panels with activists and academics at Nottingham Contemporary.

As the leading Research Centre for Black History at the University, C3R will not only host major events but also offer a platform for discussion on social justice, freedom, ethnicity, tolerance, respect, and citizenship throughout the year. To stay up to date on our events for Black History Month and in the future, head over to our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We will often livestream events or report live via Twitter. Our Centre is dedicated to public engagement—opening up academic discussion—so we work closely with many Nottingham-based cultural organizations such as Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Playhouse, New Art Exchange, Five Leaves Bookshop, Waterstones, and others. If you are interested in topics related to race and rights, C3R is your go-to place to engage with world-leading academics, activists, and artists.

To start us off, the award-winning British-Nigerian historian and BBC broadcaster David Olusoga will be in conversation with C3R Director Katie Donington on Monday 12 October at 6.30pm at Lakeside Arts Centre Lecture Theatre, an event entitled ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners‘. As experts in world slavery, Olusoga and Donington will discuss British slavery and slave ownership in the context of nation, empire, race, class and gender, including the representation of traumatic histories within a public history context. Join C3R at its opening event and register your attendance for free online. You can also read our previous blog post by Katie Donington, Co-director of C3R, for some more background.

David Olusoga 800x600

Just two days later on Wednesday 14 October at 6pm, C3R associate and PhD student Hannah-Rose Murray will screen the 2013 film Fruitvale Station in the Hallward Library cinema. This film, which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, depicts the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a police officer at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, California in 2009. Hannah will introduce the film and lead a discussion at the end.

Fruitvale Station 800x600

On Thursday 15 October at The University of Leicester, Professor Sharon Monteith, Executive Director of C3R, will be one of the key speakers for ‘Remembering Rosa Parks: Understanding the US Civil Rights Movement‘, an annual event for schools which immerses pupils in current thought about the Civil Rights Movement. During a varied day that features historical artefacts and oral history, the talks will offer a chance to explore the Movement’s key figures and tactics.

Saturday 24 October will see Nottingham Contemporary host a screening of Edgar Arceneaux’s A Time to Break Silence with a discussion led by C3R associate and PhD student Patrick Henderson. The art film explores connections between Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 Vietnam speech and the release of Stanley Kubric’s 2001: A Space Odyssey one year later.

Bringing Black History Month to a close is the October Dialogues: Black Lives Matter conference on Wednesday 28 October from 9.30am-9pm, at Nottingham Contemporary. During the day, panels of activists and academics will discuss some of the key issues at the heart of #BlackLivesMatter, as well as contextualising it as a movement within a larger history of civil rights activism. The evening event takes the theme of ‘Hip Hop and Social Justice,’ combining discussion with performance. US academics Dr Monica Miller and Dr James Peterson from Lehigh University will be giving keynotes that examine the connections between hip hop and current civil rights struggles. British hip hop artist Akala will be giving a performance and taking part in the discussion that follows.

October dialogues screen 4x3

It speaks to the timeliness of the Dialogues’ theme that both the day and evening events became booked up very quickly at our 200-person capacity after they were announced. For those who were unable to get tickets but wished to attend, we will be hosting a live stream of the full day event.

In our first year as a Research Centre, we at C3R are delighted to offer such a wide-ranging Black History Month 2015 at The University of Nottingham. This diverse line-up, and the variety of audiences we will engage over the month of October, are representative of what we, as a Centre, want to achieve in the long-term: collaboration, public engagement, and the promotion of social justice.

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