Black History Month 2020 marks the launch of the Oxford Coalition of Black Communities and Communities of Colour, as well as a manifesto dedicated to racial equality within Oxford.

Following the Rhodes Must Fall and Oxford Unity March this summer, a group of activists have launched a new campaign with grassroots solidarity at its core. Bringing Oxford residents, workers and community groups together, the Coalition aims to challenge Oxford’s ties to colonialism whilst celebrating its diversity – with ethnic minorities making up approximately 35% of the city’s population.

Working on the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the Coalition told The Oxford Blue that the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s black communities and communities of colour has been compounded by “underlying/pre-existing racial and ethnic inequalities”. Here in the city, the deaths from COVID-19 of two Filipino porters based at John Radcliffe Hospital highlight the racial inequalities existent in Oxford and the UK as a whole, with Filipino care staff suffering the highest death rates alongside Black African workers during the pandemic.

Deciding that now is the time to act, the Coalition has drawn up a Manifesto stipulating what needs to be done to improve the situation. This adopts a “reparative-social justice framework” and is aligned with the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). One of the Manifesto’s long-term aims is the establishment of an Afrikan Heritage Centre in Oxford, delivering education and the arts to people.

A representative of the Coalition told The Blue that they are “revitalised and enthused” about the launch of this project along with the wave of anti-racist and social campaigning seen over the summer of 2020. It is hoped that an “inclusive, multi-ethnic Oxford in which racial and ethnic inequalities are eradicated” is created as a result of the project.

Those looking to support the Oxford Coalition of Black Communities and Communities of Colour are encouraged to reach out on social media.