New independent chair appointed for Bristol’s Race Equality Commission: Olivette

03 Jun 2020

Democracy and Engagement

New independent chair appointed for Bristol’s Race Equality Commission

Professor of the History of Slavery at the University of Bristol, Olivette Otele, has been appointed Chair for Bristol's Race Equality Commission

Bristol’s Commission on Race Equality (CoRE) have appointed Professor Olivette Otele as their new independent chair to take forward the city’s aspirations in diversity and inclusion and to challenge the history of disadvantage that has been experienced by ethnic minorities in the city.

Professor Otele, Professor of the History of Slavery at the University of Bristol, was appointed by Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol.

Professor Otele is the first Black woman in the UK to be appointed to a Professorial Chair in History and a Vice President of the Royal Historical Society.

The Mayor established CoRE as a Mayoral commission in 2018, sitting alongside the Womens’ Commission which also has a city-wide remit.

A report by race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust in 2017 stated that “Ethnic minorities in Bristol experience greater disadvantage than in England and Wales as a whole in education and employment and this is particularly so for Black African people”. 

Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol stated:
‘I’m really pleased to see Professor Olivette Otele taking up this role.  She brings significant relevant academic expertise to the work of the Commission and I know she will be an excellent Chair, providing inclusive leadership on this crucially important agenda.  I’m glad that her appointment will further cement the University’s role at the heart of the debates about racial equality in the city.”

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said:
“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Olivette as independent chair of CoRE. Together with city leaders across our local black and minority communities the commission has worked hard to address issues of racial disparities and inequalities in the city. I would like to thank Olivette’s predecessors, Desmond Brown, Sandra Gordon and Veron Dowdy, whose leadership of the commission has delivered many greater opportunities to work together in the pursuit of race equality across all communities. Olivette too is a recognised race equalities leader and I look forward to working with her, as I know other city leaders are, to ensure that Bristol can fulfil its potential.”

Professor Otele said:
“I am looking forward to working with CoRE’s commissioners, local communities and key partners in the city and feel very honoured to be appointed to this post. We all know the disproportionate impacts that the coronavirus pandemic has had on BAME communities nationally and locally. Tackling racial inequalities will be of benefit for all communities and CoRE has a critical role to play in this regard”. 

Professor Otele begins her role on an unpaid basis.