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Black History Month Heroes Pt. 2

In this post we bring you more of our Black History Month heroes, as nominated by staff, students and seniors from across Hughes Hall.

Do you want to nominate your hero for Black History Month? Send your submissions to Jack Clarkson on development.admin@hughes.cam.ac.uk

Archbishop Desmond Tutu – “Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his role drawing the attention of the world to the injustices of apartheid, his great personal courage, and showing the effectiveness of non-violent protests and reconciliation”

Nominated by Dr. Corinne Roughley, Deputy Senior Tutor and Governing Body Fellow

Photograph: Benny Gool

Chadwick Boseman (1976 -2020) – Chadwick Boseman was an American actor who famously played the role of a number of historical figures including baseball legend Jackie Robinson, singer James Brown and Justice Thurgood Marshall.

His most prominent role came in the Marvel film Black Panther, in which he played the lead role. He won numerous accolades for the role.

Nominated by Gbenga Oyebanji, Student

Photograph: Gage Skidmore

Dr. Angela Bowen (1936-2018)

“Dr. Angela Bowen was an American dancer, writer, professor, lesbian activist, and the academic mentor responsible for my understanding that — to borrow from bell hooks– feminism is for everybody.

A gifted dancer, she toured with a jazz troupe which brought historical moments in African-American culture to theatres across Europe. In the 1960s she opened a dance school in the racially and economically divided town of New Haven, Connecticut, inspiring a generation of young black dancers who saw their potential reflected in her teaching.
She came out as a lesbian and pivoted to political activism in the 1980s, undertaking a doctoral thesis on the life and work of Audre Lorde, and moving to Long Beach, California where she dedicated the last decades of her life to writing, teaching, and organizing in LGBT, BIPOC, and disability activist communities.

Committed to passing on her activism to her students, my own work is indebted to her insistence upon critical self-awareness in comradeship, and her commitment to joyful movement as political praxis.”

Nomated by Deborah Spindelman, Student

Kendrick Lamar – “I would like to nominate the rapper/poet/artist/writer/musician Kendrick Lamar. I am a third year EngLit undergrad here at Cambridge and am currently writing my disseration on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly.

I am constantly and deeply moved by his piercing clarity of thought and stunning imagery.  

I have learnt so much about the black identity and beauty of black culture through Kendrick’s work. I personally think he is one of the greatest artists of the last century full stop, let alone one of the greatest black artists.”

Nominated by Kristen Briggs, Student

Photograph: Fuzheado / Wikimedia Commons

Ti’Air Riggins – Biomedical scientist and researcher who also does a great deal of community work including promoting STEM subjects to underrepresented groups.

Earyn Mgee - An American herpetologist, science communicator, and graduate student in conservation biology at University of Arizona.

Yara Haridy – Vertebrate palaeontologist and PhD student studying the evolution of bone cells.

Dr. Kory Evans – Evolutionary biologist and Assistand Professor at Rice University.

Shea Coulee – Drag queen, musician and star of RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) – Poet, civil rights activist and memoirist.

Nina Simone (1933 – 2003) - Musician, singer, song-writer and civil rights activist.

Nominated by Laura Chilver, Student

Sojourner Truth (1777 – 1883) – Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist, women’s rights activist in the USA and advocate for prison reform. Born into slavery, she became an enigmatic speaker, making a number of famous speeches including “Ain’t I a woman?”

Nominated by Prof Mary Buckley, Senior Member

Image: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Angela Y Davis – African American Scholar and activist specialising in issues of race, gender and class and more recently is a leading voice in the global ‘prison abolition’ movement. 

Marcus Mosiah Garvey – Jamaican born Leader of the Pan-African movement. He founded world renowned organisations and publications with the aim of the social & economic advancement of people in the African diaspora. Jamaican National hero. 

Diane Abbott MP – Black British woman of Jamaican Heritage. First Black female MP and longest serving black MP. Elected June 1987. She has served in two shadow cabinets under Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn. 

“These are three people that have had a profound impact on the world, their communities and on me personally.”

Nominated by Njilan Morris-Jarra, Student

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011) – “I nominate Wangari Maathai (1940-2011), Kenyan social and environmental activist.

She founded the Green Belt Movement which planted 30 million trees and trained tens of thousands of women in forestry and food processing, allowing them to earn their own income.

She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work (the first African woman to do so). And she squeezed in time to study for a doctorate in biology and was the first female professor in Kenya.”

Nominated by Kate Arhel, Librarian, and Adaora Okolo, Student

Photograph: John Mathew Smith / Wikimedia Commons