What is Shropshire doing to mark Black History Month?
09 Oct 2021
by Cathy Block

There is some fantastic work being done over at Shropshire Archives to mark Black History Month - read their brilliant blog showing how the abolition movement found support in Shropshire at the end of the 18th century and how campaigners and emancipated slaves visited the county here.

Also, as part of Black History Month activities in Shropshire Telford and Wrekin, social commentator & Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE is coming to Theatre Severn on Wednesday, October 20th to share his unique experience and insight as a high-profile national commentator, campaigner and cultural historian, in an Expert Seminar organised by Shropshire Council.

Staff from the council will form the audience at the theatre, with a live stream audience joining in virtually from the council and other public sector and business sector organisations across the region. They'll look at how individuals and organisations can better understand forms of racism as well as racial bias, and the issues affecting the black community in the context of the current climate and black history.

Patrick has just been made an Honorary Professor at Wolverhampton University’s Institute for Community Research Development and is a co-author of “100 Great Black Britons”.

Organised as part of Black History Month activities in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, the session will also include a conversation panel of people with a range of perspectives from Shropshire and the region. The panel is scheduled to comprise Andy Begley, Shropshire Council’s chief executive; Kal Parkash and Dr Priya George, sharing local South Asian and healthcare perspectives; and Edna Boampong, sharing perspectives as a senior woman of colour. Carl Jones is confirmed as compere for the event, which is being sponsored by Shrewsbury Colleges Group, the University of Chester, and the University of Wolverhampton.

Patrick Vernon OBE said:-

“I am delighted to be able to come to Shropshire as part of Black History Month and to share what I hope will be pertinent perspectives on recognising and handling racism in the workplace and in the wider community. Having just been made an Honorary Professor at Wolverhampton University’s Institute for Community Research Development, this is a great opportunity for me to also find out more about joint efforts being made in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin to tackle health inequalities for ethnic minority communities, and to share my experience in that regard.”

Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:-

“As an organisation that will not tolerate any form of discrimination, we very much welcome Patrick Vernon OBE’s assistance in leading an extremely important discussion to help all of us to better understand racial issues that may arise in the workplace. The event demonstrates not the only indication of the highest level possible of our commitment to tackling racism, but also our commitment to investing in our staff to help them to gain confidence and act as leaders themselves in tackling racism.

“In hosting the event during Black History Month, and linking it with a range of other activities as an organisation and with our partners, we are proud to support the aims of Black History Month. I am personally looking forward to meeting Patrick Vernon, and participating in what will be a very insightful, educational and thought-provoking event.”

Andy Begley, Shropshire Council’s chief executive, added:-

“I feel very honoured to be part of this event. As a council, we have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. We are looking forward to sharing the event online on the day with colleagues from the health and social care sector and the business and academic sectors, as well as other council colleagues; and to sharing the learning afterwards through the live stream recording.”