Black History at St Catz

Earlier this year, when the brutal killing of George Floyd brought to light the ugliest forms of racism, many institutions, including St Catherine’s College, looked again at how they deal with racism and how they support and encourage Black students.

As part of this process, the Master and colleagues responsible for student welfare in the College held a meeting with Black students, and one of the outcomes of this meeting was a desire to celebrate the achievements of our Black alumni.

This has led to the creation of an exhibition looking at the history of Black students at St Catz, curated by Barbara Costa, College Librarian and Archivist, William Booth, Lecturer in History at St Catz, Kersti Börjars, Master of St Catz, and Lydia Ciaccio, the current JCR President.

The exhibition includes a letter written by Christian Cole, the first known Black student to have graduated from Oxford University, who studied at the Delegacy for Unattached Students in 1873. In the letter he asks his publisher about progress with his pamphlet, “The Reflections on the Zulu war”, which was published in 1879, courtesy of University College. It also includes ephemera of Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who also entered the University through the Delegacy, as well as some of his books donated to the College Library in 1964.

Central to the exhibition is a series of portraits of more recent Black alumni of the College and their inspiring stories. These can be found below, along with some photographs of material included in the exhibition and some videos about the exhibition.

The exhibition is open for College members to visit Monday – Friday between 10am and 4pm. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions we are only able to open the exhibition to current students and staff, but we hope the photographs and videos give you a feel of the exhibition. Please do get in contact with Barbara Costa in the library on if you would like any further information.

Photographs of the Exhibition

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YouTube video

Kersti Börjars, Master of St Catherine’s College

YouTube video

Barbara Costa, Assistant Librarian and Archivist, St Catherine’s College

YouTube video

William Booth, Lecturer of History, St Catherine’s College

YouTube video

Lydia Ciaccio (2019, History & Politics), JCR President of St Catherine’s College

YouTube video

Grace Olusola (2019, History & English)

YouTube video

Faith Owolabi (2019, English Language & Literature)


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