On 1 March, the History and Politics Departments’ hosted Dr Robin Whitburn, Lecturer in History Education at UCL Institute of Education (IOE).  Dr Whitburn spoke dynamically about Black Lives and Civil Rights protests in Britain from the 1940s to 2000. He discussed how the movement grew, from lone standing protesters, such as Learie Constantine, who challenged a hotel’s decision to refuse him a room in court in the 1940s, to the Day of Action in Notting Hill in 1981, which attracted over 20,000 people.

Alongside exploring the decade-by-decade evolution of the movement, Dr Whitburn also highlighted the historical parallels between the racially motivated murders of Kelso Cochrane in 1959, and Stephen Lawrence in 1993, showing that the fight for racial equality is ongoing and goes through cycles of justice and injustice. Students also had a chance to ask Dr Whitburn about links between the English and American Civil Rights movements, applying this new knowledge to the 20th Century History A Level course.

Finally, Dr Witburn also covered the wider issue of how we can truly do justice to history, reiterating the importance of looking at historical events openly and honestly. His talk was powerful and timely in revealing the deep roots of the contemporary BLM movement in Britain.

By Hannah Haskel U6