July 2, 2019
On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in June, I sat in New Cross, London, surrounded by excited chatter. A group of students was planning a protest march to mark 100 days since the occupation of Deptford Town Hall. The hall is an important building on the campus of Goldsmiths, University of London. The protestors were fighting to help Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) students thrive at Goldsmiths.
The room was filled with emotions — laughter, joy, anger, anticipation — as protestors laid out the agenda for the march. Groups huddled around laptops. One member of the Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Occupation had prepared three large bowls of vegetarian food that emitted an enticing aroma. A group of students surrounding a protestor’s newborn ooh-ed and aww-ed at the baby’s every move.
This self-contained activist ecosystem was ground zero for what some say is the United Kingdom’s first protest led by students of color. It’s certainly been among the most vocal and organized student-led movements in recent history. The energy was infectious — although data on the total number of protestors at the Occupation was difficult to collect, I never saw less than 20 people manning the hall over the days I attended the space.
It all started on March 6, 2019. Hamna Imran, a Goldsmiths student and candidate for Education Officer in the Student Union elections, walked into the university to find her campaign posters torn down and vandalized.