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What’s happening around the UK for Black History Month 2020?

Black History

First created in the 1980s, Black History Month takes place each October with a host of events to acknowledge the presence of black people in the UK and their contributions to history, culture and society. Due to the pandemic some events will also be held online and all are listed on the Black History Month websiteHere are some to whet your appetite.

Windrush: Portrait of a Generation – A photo-story by Jim Grover (October to December, Brixton Library)

The exhibition of photographs celebrates South London’s Caribbean community. Many of the images were taken in Brixton, and illustrate the customs and daily lives of the Windrush generation: community clubs, dominoes, dancing, faith, family gatherings, the Jamaican home and ‘Front Room’, service to the ‘Mother Country’, funerals and the ‘Nine Night’ tradition.

‘Brilliant and Black’ with Professor Gary Younge (Manchester University – online)

The University of Manchester marked Black History Month this year with an online event on 1 October called Brilliant and Black. It gave a ‘perspective on race inequality’ as well as the current Black Lives Matter movement, and featured a keynote presentation by sociology professor Gary Younge. The award-winning author and broadcaster was joined by Professor Nalin Thakkar, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, and Naa Acquah, former general secretary of the university’s Students’ Union. A recording of the event is available on YouTube here.

The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy (online exhibition, 1 October–31 December)

Black History
Stormzy, Rose Theatre, Kingston.
By Drew de F Fawkes (Wikimedia Commons)

The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy exhibition creates a musical journey that follows the stories of Croydon’s most successful musicians, while its Classical section will feature the National Portrait Gallery’s oil painting of composer Coleridge-Taylor (aged 6) by Walter Wallis.

The Rave section of the exhibition highlights the impact of ‘dubstep’ on the area, while the Grime section follows the story of Stormzy, who has ensured he pays homage to his hometown throughout his work, shooting music videos in Croydon and arranging mystery performances for his new albums at Croydon Boxpark. It will be available exclusively online at pastfutures.co.uk.

Digging Deep, Coal Miners of African Caribbean Heritage (3 October–1 November, Woodhorn Museum, Northumberland)

This exhibition celebrates the lives of Britain’s African Caribbean miners and features film, photography and original artwork, highlighting the experience of the miners’ lives in their homes, the kind of clothes they wore, and the ornaments and keepsakes they kept that reminded them of home.

Norma Gregory, historian and curator of Digging Deep, said: ‘The Black Miners Museum Project and the Digging Deep exhibition are about ensuring diverse mining stories are heard and shared, and their contribution to UK mining is remembered for the future.’

An Evening with Jeffrey Boakye (21 October online)

Jeffrey Boakye, author of Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored, will join Dr Fraser Mann, senior lecturer in literature at York St John University, for a challenging and insightful dialogue about issues of racism and social justice. He will examine the positioning and perception of black identity in a postcolonial society, as well as the nuances of institutional racism and subconscious bias.

Herstory by Latifat Obanigba (available online until 3 November)

British-Nigerian artist Latifat Obanigba has worked with The Hug Support Group to present Herstory – celebrating black women breaking barriers and making history, an exhibition which launched on 4 October and is available to view online until 3 November.

Obanigba takes the viewer on a journey celebrating and paying tribute to black women breaking barriers to create history, from telling their story of strength and growth through adversity, and reclaiming their ‘queendom’ in modern society, while responding to the historic underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

‘Where are our heroes, martyrs and monuments?’

More than 30 years ago, Len Garrison, co-founder of the Black Cultural Archives, asked the question ‘Where are our heroes, martyrs and monuments?’ Since 1981, the Black Cultural Archives has been collecting and preserving materials which redress the historic imbalance in the representation of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. It now has one of the most comprehensive collections that documents the history and cultural heritage of Black Britain.

With the support of Heritage Lottery Fund, archivists and trained volunteers continue to catalogue, contextualise and expand the collection, which differs from conventional, traditional archives as it remains rooted in the community that created it.

Cover image: Jim Grover from his photo-story exhibition: www.windrushportraitofageneration.com. The book of the story, ‘Windrush: Portrait of a Generation’, is available from Jim’s website or from Amazon.com.

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