Homerton makes Cambridge history for Black History Month
Homerton College has played host to the biggest gathering of Black students in the University’s history – over 200 – and brought 80 prominent Black guests from all over the country to meet them.
Co-hosted by Lord Woolley and by Jesse Panda, President of the Cambridge University African Caribbean Society, the event had a long waiting list.
The 80 invited guests included Tunde Olanrewaju, UK head of McKinsey plc; Conservative MP Shaun Bailey; Gillian Joseph, Sky News presenter; Wayne Marshall OBE, distinguished organist; Leroy Logan MBE, founder of the Black Police Association; and Diane Abbott MP, who spoke about being told at school that she would “never amount to anything” yet found the courage to apply, successfully, to Cambridge and to go on to be the UK’s first Black woman MP.
Guests were treated to a musical performance by a quartet from the all-BME Chineke! Orchestra, whose founder Chi-Chi Nwanoku CBE was in attendance.
Two special awards were presented. Sister Bernadette Chabongora was a Homerton student in the 1980s, and when she came to the College was slightly older than her cohort and already a nun in Holy Orders. She came from Zimbabwe to train as a teacher, and on her return rose both in the teaching profession and in the Church, to become National Chief Examiner and to help lead her convent through Covid-19. Sister Bernadette, tragically, died in May 2022, and her award was collected on her behalf by Sally Hyde Lomax, one of a group of Homertonian friends who had raised funds to support Sister Bernadette’s work.
A lifetime achievement award went to Michael Eboda, creator 17 years ago of the Powerlist, which each year recognises 100 Black individuals, prominent in their fields. Presenting the award, Lord Woolley said “As the publisher of the Powerlist, Michael has never appeared in it – but his creation has done more than anything for the visibility of Black excellence in the UK”.