A British academic and advocate against systemic racism in UK universities has embarked upon a campaign for a free black university, launching a fundraiser to finance the project.
Melz Owusu has addressed research seminars, given a TED Talk and performed raps at academic conferences to try to decolonise higher education.
She observed that efforts to decolonize tertiary institutions in the country will be an uphill task, considering that these institutions were built on colonialization.
But eventually the Phd student and former sabbatical officer at the Leeds University union came to a realisation: I was like, hmm, this idea of transforming the university from the inside and having a decolonised curriculum isnt going to happen with the way the structures of the university are.
This sparked the idea of a Free Black University to redistribute knowledge and place black students and a decolonised curriculum at its heart, rather than as an add-on. A GoFundMe campaign launched to finance the project has raised more than £60,000 since being set up this month, and won backing from both the University and College Union and National Union of Students.
Owusu, who studied politics and philosophy at Leeds and will start a PhD in epistemic justice at the University of Cambridge in October, is super-excited at the success of the fundraising campaign, which aims to raise £250,000 to get the project up and running by the autumn.
A key aim, however, is to persuade universities to redistribute money to the initiative by making an annual donation. The Free Black University will benefit their students and the community as a whole, says Osuwu.
Campaigns along these lines by student activists have already started at Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Leeds, Exeter and UCL.
Owusu sees this as a way not only for institutions to fulfil their promises to current black students, but as payback for the role they have played in the progress of racism, from benefiting from donations by slave owners to developing the study of eugenics.
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