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Lord Simon Woolley to open international conference on anti-racism

Lord Woolley of Woodford CBE, a figurehead in the fight for racial equity, will be the opening keynote speaker at an international hybrid conference on anti-racism on 21st March, it was announced today. His address will be the first of several addresses from senior figures in education at the Black Leadership Group (BLG) event, timed to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

A cross-bench member of the House of Lords since October 2019, Lord Woolley has been Principal of Homerton College, University of Cambridge, since October 2021. He was chair of the Government of the United Kingdom Race Disparity Unit Advisory Group until July 2020.

“Lord Woolley has a track record of addressing representational imbalances, transforming institutions, and nurturing individuals,” says Homerton College. “His cross-party and cross-sector work with Operation Black Vote has seen the number of MPs from black and minority ethnic backgrounds rise from 4 to 65 over the past two decades.”

Lord Woolley’s live-streamed keynote will open the BLG’s UK 4 nations and global conference, Tracks, Trails and Threads: Courageous Leadership in a Fractured World. The event is taking place across five linked venues – The MAC in Belfast, Birmingham Conservatoire, The Senedd in Cardiff, Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh and Institute of Directors (IoD), London – and virtually.

Sponsored by Google for Education, it will feature leading lights in the fight against racism, including leaders from Further and Higher Education.

The other keynote speakers are: 

  • Provocation Keynote: Professor S. Craig Watkins, Director of Media Innovation at the University of Austin, Texas
  • Belfast: Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and CEO of Belfast Metropolitan College; 
  • Birmingham: Professor David Mba, Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University
  • Cardiff: Professor Uzi Iwobi CBE, CEO & Founder of Race Council Cymru
  • Edinburgh: Professor Gus John, renowned campaign on racial equality and social justice
  • London: Marcus Ryder MBE, CEO at The Film & TV Charity
  • Virtually, Dr Elizabeth Henry, Racial and Social Justice Consultant, Activist and Campaigner

The conference will share simultaneously, UK-wide and globally, the keynote addresses and panel discussion, before switching to local venues for roundtable workshops and rich, face-to-face conversations and then re-uniting on-line for summaries and calls to action.

Black Leadership Group Director Stella Mbubaegbu CBE said:

“We’re honoured and privileged to have Lord Woolley open our conference. He is one of the leading figures in the fight for racial equity in this country and an inspiration to us all. We look forward to his opening address and then the keynotes by our other courageous leaders across the five venues and virtually.  We very much hope this conference will be a platform for progress in shaping a society free of racism.”

Tracks, Trails and Threads: Courageous Leadership in a Fractured World is for leaders and practitioners from all levels and backgrounds who share a desire to heal division, eliminate racism and advance anti-racism to create and sustain a more equitable society. Early bird discounts are available until 11th February, for individuals and group bookings. For more information and to register, visit the event page here.

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