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TRIBUTES were paid by campaigners and trade unionists today following the death of Nita Sanghera, the University and College Union’s (UCU) first black president.
Ms Sanghera passed away on Thursday following a short illness after serving on the union’s West Midlands regional committee, the black members’ standing committee and the national executive committee.
She was elected vice-president for the union’s further education sector in 2018.
In May this year, Ms Sanghera would have become the first black woman president of UCU.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Nita was formidable, tenacious, a gifted orator and impeccably stylish.
“She inspired others to fight against injustice, and will never be forgotten. Rest in power, Nita.”
UCU vice president Vicky Blake said: “I have always known how fiercely and passionately Nita fought for members and workers everywhere.
“My UCU desk is next to hers, her area decked in posters and flyers for international solidarity and anti-racism campaigns.”
The union’s further education vice-chair Sean Vernell said that the labour and trade-union movement “as a whole has been robbed of one of its most courageous fighters for justice.”
He said: “Nita was always coming up with ideas and looking for opportunities to develop a more progressive curriculum especially one that integrated the positive role of trade unionism.”
Coventry South Labour MP Zarah Sultana said: “She was a giant of the labour movement and inspired women of colour like myself.
TUC Leeds president Jane Aitchison called Ms Sanghera “a powerful inspirational fighter” she was proud to stand alongside.
Unite West Midlands chair Asif Mohammed said that she “was the very best of the trade-union movement” and “stood in the best traditions of our great movement”.
And Unison Birmingham branch treasurer David Hughes said that she was “someone you would want in your corner in a fight against injustice.”
Stand Up To Racism tweeted that Ms Sanghera was an “inspirational fighter.”
Author Louise Raw wrote: “I was proud to stand with her on many anti-racist demos; hard to accept I never will again.
“Nita was subjected to horrific abuse from fascists, but that incredible smile never dimmed.”
Stop the War Coalition patron Salma Yaqoob said: “Nita was a courageous campaigner, standing up to racism and defending the marginalised.”
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