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Leeds Trinity University announces programme for Black Lives Matter conference

Leeds Trinity University announces programme for Black Lives Matter conference

On Wednesday 24 May, Leeds Trinity University is to host its third annual Black Lives Matter conference on campus in Horsforth, Leeds. This year’s theme focuses on Health, Education and Leadership and the day will have a mix of keynote speakers, workshops, a short film, and a panel discussion.

Racism manifests itself in many ways including in health disparities, inequitable educational outcomes, and a lack of representation of Black people in leadership roles. To help shed light on the issues and look at the work needed to make progress, Professor Charles Egbu, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University, will be joined by colleagues and speakers from the University and across the region and country to share their knowledge, expertise and lived experiences.

Guest speakers for the morning of the conference include Foluke Ajayi, Chief Executive of the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, who will give an overview of ‘Black physical and mental health disparities’ by sharing personal experiences and reflections. Nathan Ghann – Programme Director of The Educate Group – will discuss ‘Solving for the Black Degree Awarding Gap’. Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London, Professor David Mba, will be looking at the ‘Ethnic Representation Index,’ and Heather Paul – a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University – will focus on ‘The Black Woman Activist Behind the Blue Plaque.’

Heather will be relaying powerful stories about her mother, Gertrude Paul, who was one of the first Black teachers in the north of England. Gertrude was an exceptionally talented educational leader, a community activist well-known in Yorkshire, and a lead on national and local policy for anti-racist practice.

The morning speaker sessions will come to a close with a screening of a short 20-minute film about racism. The film ‘Re: Tension’ has been created by Ricardo Barker, filmmaker, music composer and Associate Professor at Leeds Trinity University.

After lunch, attendees will hear from a panel made of students from across the UK sharing their lived experiences of racism, inequalities, and injustices. Attendees are then invited to get involved with workshops where they can discuss selected topics in more depth.

The afternoon session includes a leadership panel and Q&A with the aim to encourage discussion, reflection, and challenge anti-Blackness in its many forms. The panel is made up of CEOs, Directors and leaders in health, education, and the arts.

The conference will close with a short performance by the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

Conference organiser and Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Trinity University, Shames Maskeen, said:

“Racism is in the fabric of everyday life. The Black Lives Matter movement is more than a political statement. The resurgence of the movement after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, brought people together from all walks of life and with a common purpose – equality. It is now a global network and movement wanting action to address unequal treatment, oppression and violence inflicted on Black communities that goes back to the era of slavery and continues today.

“I stand on the shoulders of the anti-racist scholars, activists and hidden figures who have come before me and fought for my right to be human. This work is important to me because racism is as pervasive as ever. I do this work because I remain hopeful to make a change.”

Professor Charles Egbu, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said:

“I remember someone asking me, ‘Charles, this Black Lives Matter movement, isn’t it just a political statement?’. If you are on the receiving end, if you have lived it as I have lived it here for 35 years, and if you have had the opportunity that I have had of being a mentor to Black and White staff, to over 100 people over a period of 25 years – this is real. As a former President of the Chartered Institute of Building, championing welfare and wellbeing, I saw how this issue has impacted individuals and their potential. This is not a political statement – this is real.

“The conference has been curated by a passionate member of staff who cares –Shames Maskeen – with the support of Leeds Trinity students, staff, and partners. We hold ourselves accountable for the work we still need to do, and we want those who attend to feel empowered to make a change for equality.”

The Leeds Trinity University 2023 Black Lives Matter conference is in partnership with Go Higher West Yorkshire, the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Leeds Learning Alliance.

The conference is open to all and is free to attend. For more information visit the conference event booking page.

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