Five questions for Black History Month: Josette Kennington

We’re celebrating Black History Month 2023 by asking our Black activists five questions. First up, Josette Kennington.

She was UNISON Eastern’s equalities activist of the year and is Black members officer at Cambridgeshire County branch.

Who are you?

Josette Kennington, Cambridgeshire County branch.

Why is Black History Month important to you?

It is important to celebrate and share Black history, so it becomes mainstreamed as part of everyone’s history.

We need new history books that remove the white-wash and recognise the achievements of Black people in history.

What’s your proudest achievement in UNISON?

I was very proud to receive the Equalities Activist of the year 2023 from UNISON Eastern.

Who’s your inspiration/role model?

My Mum is my role model. She was active in a union for her whole working life.

When I was five, she was a union welfare officer and would go on visits with her. She became a full time union rep doing casework and supporting many people to keep their jobs.

She was chair of the Civil Service Black members group and worked to implement equality initiatives within the Civil Service.

I am immensely proud of her; she is fearless and passionately fights for what she believes.

I also admire the Maya Angelou. Her words are so powerful, and she too was an activist unafraid to speak truth to power.

Why did you get involved in UNISON?

I joined because I know how valuable union support can be. UNISON reached out to set up a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough local authority Black workers network, which I went to and then I found regional self-organised group.

I became active after the Black Lives Matter protests, when it became so hard to bear that there was such a massive amount of work to do to make society anti-racist.

These groups feel like my UNISON family and together we can make change, starting in our workplaces. I joined and have not regretted a moment since, I have learned so much from everyone in UNISON.

We talked to Josette when she scooped the region’s equalities activist of the year award.

Read the interview