New banners unveiled in Parkinson Court for Black History Month

Four new banners celebrating the talent and achievements of Black women leaders and role models at the University have been unveiled in Parkinson Court South.

Banners in Parkinson Court South, of Dr Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Professor Lisa-Dionne Morris, Louise Banahene MBE, Dr Kendi Guantai

Marking Black History Month, the 4.5-metre-long flags feature photographs and quotes and will remain on display until mid-November.

The banners will also continue to be used in the future as well, as fostering inclusivity, and ensuring visibility and a sense of belonging for under-represented members of our community, are crucial beyond awareness-raising months.  

The four featured colleagues are:

  • Dr Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso from the School of Biology  
  • Professor Lisa-Dionne Morris from the School of Mechanical Engineering
  • Louise Banahene MBE – Director of Educational Engagement  
  • Dr Kendi Guantai – Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion  

Commenting on her involvement, Yoselin, Associate Professor in the School of Biology and co-founder of the Black in Plant Science network, said: 

“It is such an honour to be displayed at the Parkinson Building alongside these incredible women leaders in their field. The feedback I’ve received has been outstanding and it’s made me more aware of the need to see people like me in these spaces.

“Plants are highly diverse organisms which make important connections with their surroundings. As such, they are models of communities living in harmony.

“Observing plants can teach us kindness and how diversity can help us thrive. I want to inspire as many people as I can to study plants, and this is one step in the right direction!”

Yoselin co-founded the Black in Plant Science network earlier this year, along with a group of Black scientists in both academia and industry, in response to the underrepresentation of UK based Black scientists in STEM. The network was recently awarded £65,000 to grow its impact.

A backdrop for sharing stories

The banners have formed a backdrop to one of the events which has been taking place as part of Black History Month – the University’s Living Library. 

Spotlighting, celebrating and highlighting the diverse experiences and lives of our Black community members, the Living Library allowed visiting ‘readers’ to have 15-minute conversations with human ‘books’ to find out more about their lives, careers and inspirations. 

With a focus on the richness and diversity of cultures, nationality, and heritage within our Black community, it was a chance to have an open dialogue, challenge unconscious bias and build connections.

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