Current Affairs

Activists launch Oxford grassroots campaign for racial equality to mark Black History Month

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.