Skip to content

Portraits celebrating BAME staff, students and alumni to be displayed in Wills Memorial Building

From 22 October, portraits in honour of contributions by Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, students and alumni will take their permanent place in the Reception room of Wills Memorial Building.

By Tia Bahia, BAME Affairs Correspondent

From 22 October, portraits in honour of contributions by Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, students and alumni will take their permanent place in the Reception Room of Wills Memorial Building.

The series of photographic portraits are being unveiled to celebrate the first anniversary of the Be More Empowered for Success programme run by the University to support BAME groups.

The seven portraits consist of members of the University who have had significant impact upon the Bristol community and around the world. They are each accompanied by a current or recent staff member or student who is not only making a difference themselves but whose work connects them to the figure they display.

Amongst the inspiring people included in the portraits is Lord Paul Boateng, one of the first three Black British MPs, and once a Bristol University student.

Speaking on the display, Lord Boateng said: ‘I’m enormously honoured to be featured in these portraits alongside others whose contributions I admire and respect. Bristol, as a University, gave me the best possible start in the study of the law.

‘My hope is that this exhibit will both inspire and challenge an upcoming generation irrespective of racial origin to do more, and to make the demand for a fairer and more inclusive society. This demand is as necessary as ever, for if there is one lesson we all need to take way in Black History Month, it is that power concedes nothing without a demand - it never has and it never will.’

Lord Boateng’s portrait can be seen displayed in the hands of Robiu Salisu, Bristol University’s BAME student inclusion officer.

Salisu explained why he chose to appear with Lord Boateng and said: ‘In my current role at Bristol, I am inspired by Lord Boateng’s journey from activism to creating meaningful change within the British political system and paving the way for the future generations of Black, Asian and minority ethnic politicians.’

Staff members who have been chosen have also expressed their awe for those they are featured with.

Olivette Otele, Professor of the History of Slavery at Bristol University is one of the academics to have been photographed. She has been photographed with Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor General of Saint Lucia from 1997 to 2017, who completed a PhD in the Department of Education at Bristol in 1991.

Professor Otele said: ‘Dame Pearlette was a pioneer and a dedicated educator whose positive impact spans across several decades. It is a privilege to sit beside her portrait.

‘This project is incredibly important and shows that there are many ways to contribute to the questions of representation and equality.’

Other portraits that feature celebrate staff, students and alumni who have led the way in education, the arts economics, politics, activism and social change.

This celebratory display comes at a time where efforts to push for racial equality are at a peak and coincides with Black History Month.

£1million scholarship program launched to support Black-heritage students at Bristol

Celebrating Black History: The Black cultural icons who inspire Bristol students

The launch of the portraits will be accompanied by an online event entitled ‘Towards a Decolonised University’, which will take place on 22 October.

The event will be hosted by Deputy Vice-chancellor and Provost, Professor Judith Squires, and will involve a panel of speakers discussing the impact of colonial power structures on the University and ways in which racism can be tackled.

Featured Image: University of Bristol

What do you think about the portrait display?