PIONEERING Solihull lecturer Lionel James was the first ever black regional chair of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) in its 125-year history.
And that was only five years ago – the Institution now has more than 20,400 members across 94 countries.
Throughout October Solihull College & University Centre is celebrating Black History Month, including the significant contributions of its own staff.
Building Services lecturer Lionel said: “I believe it is so important that all students and their lecturers should know more and share the history of black individuals who have made contributions to the growth and success of the Construction and Engineering Industries in the West Midlands and UK.
“When my Father first arrived in England from Jamaica in 1960, the only work anyone would give him so he could earn a living to care for his family, was as a labourer on a construction site in Birmingham, working outside in all conditions.
“There are so many unknown people of black origin who have contributed in prominent ways but very little is known about them. Hopefully, one day, there will be no need for a ‘Black History Month’ to celebrate, because black history will be spoken about and be as commonplace as any other historical event in the West Midlands and the UK.”
Black History Month has been running for more than 30 years. Resources will be accessible to college students via the student hub all month with student BAME officer Fatima Mai-Bornu designing an informative bitesize tutorial about some of Britain’s forgotten history.
Student competitions will also be held across college including creative poster submissions on the theme of black British history. Visual Arts lecturer Maninder Padam said for her graphic design students, the poster competition is an ongoing project.
“The students have enjoyed enquiring about historical and present events surrounding black history. This has not only encouraged debate but as a group have looked the positive contributions made such as the arts, music and culture. We look forward to seeing the results of their first live project,” she said.