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What does Black History Month signify in a pre-dominantly black yet racially diverse community?

Black History Month, a month (every October in the UK) to celebrate and remember what is considered a legacy of African-American (Black) excellence first originated in the United States in the 1970s. Since then, it has given birth to a global event that has grown far beyond its borders, from the UK to the Netherlands, firmly planting roots in Africa which has been steadfast in its solidarity with their African-American brethren.

The MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM is part of that greater community that embraces Black History Month in The Gambia, with staff and students contributing individually each year to essays, poetry, spoken word and art that characterizes the remembrance of black heroes who contributed to scientific innovation, business excellence and socio-political change in the US and the world at large – the fruits of which we continue to enjoy today and which is reflected in our work.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) & Decolonisation

The Unit, through its newly formed EDI Committee and in line with LSHTM’s EDI strategy, is committed to providing an inclusive research, education and working environment of which to “decolonizing higher education” is part. As such the Unit aims to provide insight and an African perspective as part of the strategy implementation.

Black Lives Matter (BLM)

We are proud of our achievement in nurturing a culturally and racially diverse community, and as an institution as well on an individual level, we have not been remiss in recognizing the struggle for racial equality that the BLM represents. Staff and students have shown their support on social media platforms, and institutionally the EDI Committee supports the LSHTM commitment to the Race Equality Charter principles. The Unit is currently participating in the “Independent Review to address discrimination and advance anti-racism and equality”: the Unit so far represents a significant 13% of combined global participants, demonstrating our commitment to address discrimination and advance anti-racism and equality in the School as a whole. The Unit will also be represented in the subsequent Race Equality Task Force that is charged to lead, shape, and develop LSHTM’s work on Race Equality.

Charles Easmon

Black History Month: Science and Medicine

As we enter yet another Black History Month, we bring to the spotlight Charles Odamtten Easmon or C. O. Easmon, popularly known as Charlie Easmon, FRCS, FICS (22 September 1913 – 19 May 1994) was a Ghanaian doctor of Sierra Leone Creole, African American, Danish, and Irish descent. Easmon was the first Ghanaian to qualify as a surgeon specialist and the first African dean of the University of Ghana Medical School. Easmon performed the first successful open-heart surgery in Ghana in 1964, and modern scholars credit him as the “Father of Cardiac Surgery in West Africa”. (Black History Month UK)

What Next?

As 2021 draws to a close our eyes are set on putting in action EDI plans and initiatives that will leave a lasting impact of equality, diversity and inclusion on the Unit and its diverse staff, students and volunteers.

MRC unit The Gambia Anti-discrimination Group

Yahya Touray, Equality Diversity and Inclusion Officer

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