St Catharine’s College is flying the national flag of the Bahamas above Cambridge city centre today to signify the start of a programme of activities celebrating Black History Month. The flag commemorates the College’s connections with the Bahamas thanks to its earliest known Black student, Alfred F. Adderley CBE.
St Catharine’s took the opportunity to fly the Bahamas flag after a recent research project found that Adderley arrived from the Bahamas to study law in 1912, making him the earliest Black member of the College on record. Following graduation and legal training, Adderley returned to the Bahamas to practice law, where he distinguished himself in court and became a leader in national politics, religion and sports.
Professor Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s College, commented, “This Black History Month, St Catharine’s College is starting the new academic year by embracing over a century of Black students, staff and Fellows contributing to our academic community. We are rightly proud of our Black history, first recorded in 1912 with Alfred F. Adderley, who contributed so much to life at St Catharine’s and in the Bahamas. I’m delighted that the raising of the Bahamian flag today in his memory launches a programme of activities that will enable us all to reflect and build on these important historical experiences throughout October and beyond.”
The Adderley Prize was established by St Catharine’s following a bequest from Alfred and his son, The Hon Paul Adderley, who also studied at the College and was subsequently appointed Acting Governor-General of the Bahamas. The prize is still given annually to recognise St Catharine’s law students for outstanding performance in their exams.
L’myah Sherae (2019, International Relations and Politics), who graduated with a Master’s degree from St Catharine’s and whose research investigated Alfred F. Adderley’s life, added, “Delving into the College’s archives was a very powerful experience for me. I was overwhelmed and completely inspired by the achievements of Alfred F. Adderley and the other Black students at St Catharine’s who followed him. Knowing that I also followed in their prominent footsteps, as a black student at St Catharine’s, was incredibly motivating. I am thrilled that my research inspired the College to fly the Bahamian flag in honour of this rich history.”
The national flag of the Bahamas will fly from the College’s flag pole on 1 October and again on 31 October, marking the start and the end of Black History Month. Among the activities scheduled by the College as part of Black History Month during October are:
- Celebrations of Black composers, spoken word and art;
- An exhibition of photographs and inspirational quotes from Black members of the College community, past and present;
- Dedicated services in the College’s Chapel; and
- An event focused on supporting Black and BME students’ mental health in higher education.
Danielle Wright (2019, Land Economy), a Black undergraduate student at St Catharine’s and one of the College’s Black History Month organisers, said, “Given Alfred F. Adderley’s breadth of interests and legacy of support for St Catharine’s, I like to think he would welcome the wide-ranging programme that we’re hosting for Black History Month this year. Josie Archer and I have been working very hard to help St Catharine's embrace our black history, and we are looking forward to students, staff and Fellows joining together – largely online in the current circumstances – for these activities and writing the next chapter in our Black history.”