UCL Institute of the Americas


The Fire that Time: Transnational Black Radicalism and the Sir George Williams Occupation

07 June 2023, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Book cover: The Fire That Time

An event part of the UCL Americas Caribbean Seminar series

This event is free.

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UCL Institute of the Americas

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In 1969, in one of the most significant black student protests in North American history, Caribbean students called out discriminatory pedagogical practices at Sir George Williams University, before occupying the computer center for two weeks. Upon the breakdown of negotiations, the police launched a violent crackdown as a fire mysteriously broke out inside the center and racist chants were hurled by spectators on the street. It was a heavily mediatized flashpoint in the Canadian civil rights movement and the international Black Power struggle that would send shockwaves as far as the Caribbean. Half a century later, we continue to grapple with the legacies of this watershed moment in light of its transnational reach and implications for current resistance. We ask: How is the Sir George Williams “affair” remembered, forgotten, or contested? How is blackness included or occluded in decolonizing dialogues?

About the Speakers

Kirland Ayanna Bobb

Kirland Ayanna Bobb holds a BA in History and is a graduate teacher in the Ministry of Education, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. She is currently pursuing a PhD in history at UWI and has a special interest in Caribbean traditions of Black Radicalism.  

Amanda Perry

at Champlain College-Saint Lambert in Montreal

Her current book project examines the resonances of the Cuban Revolution as a Caribbean eventShe received her PhD in Comparative Literature, with distinction, from NYU in 2019.  

Ronald Cummings

Associate Professor at McMaster University, Canada

Ronald Cummings is an associate professor in the department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada. Nalini Mohabir is an associate professor of geography at Concordia University. Together, they have co-edited The Fire That Time and worked on a series of publications about the 1969 Black and Caribbean student protest in Montreal. 

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