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Black liberation flag raised for the first time on campus

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Image: University of York

The Black Liberation flag was raised in Greg's Place to commemorate Black History Month at the University of York on 24 October. The flag is a tricolour design with three horizontal stripes of red, black and green in descending order. The colours, according to the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) stand for the blood that unites all people of Black-African ancestry, black people whose nation is affirmed by the flag and the natural wealth of Africa respectively.

The flag was first adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) in 1920, in response to a racist song which openly mocked the fact that "every race had a flag" except black people.

This gesture comes at a time where there are calls to put pressure on universities across the country which have benefitted from the institution of slavery to pay reparations to the families of slaves.

The raising of the flag comes as part of the University of York's series of events to commemorate Black History Month, which runs for the entirety of October in the U.K. The theme for the events at the University is "Celebrating Great Black British Achievers". The first event held was an open lecture with Canon Margaret Sentamu on 16 October. More recently, there was a workshop held on the impact of the recently-deceased Aretha Franklin on Black British gospel music.

The commemoration of Black History Month comes at a time when, at the last count, the percentage of offers given to black students to attend York was just 1.8 per cent of the total number. This number was particularly close to the 1.5 per cent figure for the same metric at Oxford and Cambridge which MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, accused of having a "social apartheid".

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Saul Tendler, who will take over temporarily from outgoing VC Koen Lamberts on 31 October, noted that this was the first time the flag had been raised at the University. The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost added: "It's a visible statement of our commitment to Black History Month and equality."

James Durcan, YUSU President, echoed Tendler's sentiment:

"The first ever raising of the Black Liberation flag is the first important step in symbolising the huge amount of work to be done on black liberation here on campus and wider afield.

"This landmark occasion, like the first ever raising of the Rainbow flag many years ago, must be a catalyst for continual dialogue and action to challenge inequality, to be more inclusive and take real action to improve the lives of minority groups."

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