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  • By BantuScribe

How YHP changed my relationship with my degree

Before joining YHP, I associated studying history with thick textbooks with black and white photographs, boring essays, and a lack of representation. Once became a part of YHP, I worked on a project about the British Black power movement. This was of particular importance to me, as I had only ever studied the civil rights movement of the United States before. Despite the importance of learning such a subject, it often made me feel like I did not have my own history or my own heroes. I longed for that. Over the course of the project with YHP, we interviewed activists from the movement (some of whom I still have a relationship with) and created an exhibition and documentary, focusing on the period 1971 to 1993.

YHP members with Desrie Thomson–George (left), whom we interviewed for our project on the Black Liberation Front

The Young Historians Project was an experience that greatly differed from my course at university. It was an interactive and creative process of bringing history to life. For the first time in years, I felt a passion for history again. What I liked most about the project was being part of a team. At university I often bore the brunt of my assignments by myself. However, in YHP we all had our roles to play, which made the work less daunting. Although there were times when the workload combined with university became overwhelming or unpredictable. Things would happen like people unexpectedly leaving, which would throw things out of balance. It was all a learning experience and I was able to transfer those skills to my degree.

YHP members with activist Ansel Wong (third)

The main skill I learned from YHP was inquisitiveness. When approaching history, one must always be curious. This makes you ask the right questions to paint an accurate picture. I also learned the responsibility we have to document our history – to empower ourselves and never forget the work we have inherited from our elders. All of these things reignited my passion for history and even though I was not always fortunate in having riveting histories to study in my course,

Being a part of the project in its embryonic stages makes me value how much it has grown. I hope to see more young people of African and Caribbean descent contribute to YHP. The current research project on African women in the British health service during the 20th century is one I look forward to learning more about. It is important that initiatives like this exist, as it changes young Black people’s relationship with history. Had a project like this existed when I was younger, perhaps I would have not been one of the only Black history students in many of my classes.


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