Dr. Nicola Rollock is one of the kindest teachers I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve concluded this after only two interactions with her. The first encounter was during a lecture she delivered at the University of Leicester earlier this year when she presented her seminal work on the experiences of 20 of the only 25 Black women professors in UK higher education. Since being published in February 2019, this work has informed articles in Vogue, The Guardian, and Stylist to mention only a few. After her lecture, Dr. Rollock made clear that she had specifically left enough time (at least 45 minutes on my count) for a Q&A session. While I was already enthralled by her findings and intentional delivery, it was the Q&A session that deeply resonated with me on a personal level. I had the opportunity to ask a question which Dr. Rollock answered in detail. I couldn’t remember the last time a teacher used a combination of tone, measured response, and gestures to let me know that not only had they connected with my question personally but that I was not alone. The question was about maintaining wellbeing as a Black woman academic whilst seeking social justice, and Dr. Rollock’s response would lead me to seek a second encounter with her in the form of an interview - this interview.
Dr. Nicola Rollock has a long list of titles and accolades to her name. She is an Associate Professor in Equity and Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, an accomplished author (her books include ‘The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 10 Years On’), appointed as the Specialist Advisor to the Home Affairs Select Committee 'The Macpherson Report: 20 Years On' inquiry, a consultant in diversity and inclusion initiatives, an award-winning academic and a public speaker. She was also featured in 2018’s Slay in Your Lane book. As we watch Nicola, a black woman academic, create a versatile and solid body of work that has both cultural impact and staying power (which is a phrase quite familiar to Dr. Rollock) - it's inspiring, heartening, and hope-building.
BB: The title of your report working with Black women professors, ‘Staying Power’, where does that come from?
NR: It draws on the title of a book that was published by Pluto classics and written by Peter Fryer, and it's called Staying power: The History of Black People in Britain.