Black History News & Notes at 23 March

Black Cultural Archives: see

Thursday 16 April.  The Moors of England Play – pre-screening and panel discussion
Talawa theatre. Visit

Saturday 25 April. 9.30am-4.30pm. History Matters Conference

Conference to discuss why there are so few history students and teachers of African and Caribbean heritage.

Some disturbing facts:

  • Last year only three Black students were admitted to train as History teachers
  • Official statistics indicate that History is the third most unpopular subject among Black undergraduates
  • During 2012/13 there were 1340 Black undergraduates studying History, 1.8% of the total
  • At present it is estimated that there are less than 10 Black PhD students studying History in the country

Why is there so few Black students studying History?

Why are there so few Black teachers of History in our schools?

Why are there so few Black academic historians?

Why do some young black people view History as just a ‘white middle-class pursuit’, when history is so popular at community level?

The Conference aims to explore these questions and to understand why such low numbers of Black students are engaging with History as a subject. Teachers, school and university students, as well as professional historians will convene to discuss their experiences of studying history and to suggest ways forward. ‘Our objectives are to identify the reasons for this under-representation and to encourage more young black people to study history.’ To book go to

Wednesday 29 April. 11am-2pm. The Philosophy of Race
Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Thursday 14 May. 6-9pm. Look How Far We’ve Come Community Talk & DVD Launch/Is Jesus White?

History consultant Kwaku recently facilitated a ‘Is Jesus White?’ presentation before a small focus group in Accra, Ghana. The audience ranged from young adults to pensioners, Christians and non-Christians. ‘Judging by comments by some who’ve not seen the presentation, it seems the topic does not convey the multi-dimensional nature of the presentation. It covers history, identity, African and European psyche. Perhaps the sub-heading would provide better context: ‘An Audio-Visual Presentation On Christian Iconography: Putting Jesus, Christianity & Africa Into Historical Context’.’

Kwaku will make the ‘Is Jesus White?’ presentation, ahead of the Look How Far We’ve Come Community Talk event and Look… DVD launch: Look How Far We’ve Come Community Talk & DVD Launch/Is Jesus White? Abbey Community Centre, Westminster.

Thursday 28 May.  7pm-9pm. The Africans of Georgian Britain: Active agents of Change

Historian Onyeka tells the story of Africans in Georgian Britain and the role they played in the development of society.

‘We think of the eighteenth century as the golden age of the British Empire, and it is widely acknowledged that African people played a part in its development. Hitherto, this has been seen through their roles as chattels, unpaid labour and objects to be traded as Britain became the largest slave trading nation in the world. However, the story of Africans in Britain at this time is far more interesting and complex. As the eighteenth-century writer Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi (1741–1821) says, ‘Well! I am really haunted by black shadows. Men of colour in the rank of gentlemen: a black lady, covered with finery, in the Pit at the Opera, and tawny children playing the Squares, – the gardens of the Squares I mean, – with their Nurses, afford ample proofs that Hannah More and Mr Wilberforce’s success in breaking down the walls of separation.’ But more than Lady Piozzi acknowledges, Africans in Georgian Britain were in fact an integral part of the development of British society. Onyeka explores some of their stories.’ National Portrait Gallery, the Ondaatje Wing Theatre, just off Trafalgar Square. Tickets: £7 (£6 concessions and Gallery Supporters) – book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Black Poppies

See coverage  Stephen Bourne’s book at

BCA wins Civic Trust Special Award for Community and Engagement

Black Cultural Archives and architects Pringle Richards Sharratt have been awarded the Civic Trust Special Award for Community Impact and Engagement.

Black Saints and Bishops

A note written in 1856 by Edward I’Anson, the architect, was published in 1858 about on the murals he had found when working on the partial restoration of Lingfield Church in 1845, which raised the question of whether there had been any black bishops. (Surrey Archaeological Collections. Vol 1. p. 71). The note was accompanied by a letter from 1856 by  Albert Way of Reigate stating:

‘I do not know of any negro bishop amongst the saints: there are several black saints, but not of episcopal character. In mural paintings I think I have noticed, where mineral red has been used, the colour has sometimes become black..’

The Effinghams and Jamaica

Thomas Howard  2nd Earl of Effingham, married Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Beckford of Jamaica. (p. Surrey Archaeological Collection. 1888. Vol. 9. p. 409)

Thomas the 3rd Earl was appointed Vice-Admiral of Jamaica on 21 July 1780, and Governor on 14 October 1789. He died in Jamaica on 19 November 1791. (Ditto. p. 410)

His wife Catherine died in 1791 on board HMS Diana on route from Jamaica to New York. (Ditto. p. 410)

The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation

David Brion Davis and Yale Sterling Professor of History Emeritus, has  won the US National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction for his book The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation.

Here is some of coverage of the award ceremony:

Here are some reviews of the book:

(From Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University, enewsletter 13 March 2015.

A cradle of slavery and black resistance on the banks of the York

‘When English colonists began settling the south bank of the York River in the 1630s, enslaved black labor was the exception rather than the rule. But within a few decades, the planters at such properties as Kiskiack, Ringfield and Bellfield were producing such bountiful crops of lucrative sweet-scented tobacco that their resulting appetite for black labor created what for 50 years was by far the biggest and busiest slave market in Virginia.’ Mark St. John Erickson. Daily Press (Virginia). February 20, 2015. ‘Slavery may not have been born on the banks of the York River. But the rich alluvial soil that made the region’s sweet-scented tobacco so popular and profitable during the late 1600s provided the historic ground where Virginia’s slave culture took root and blossomed. Just up the hill from the docks where thousands of souls were sold into servitude during the early 1700s, however, the descendants of those slaves gathered in droves during the Civil War, forming a pioneering black settlement and even taking up arms for freedom.’ Read more:

From Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University, Newsletter February 23 2015

Uncomfortable Silences: Anti-Slavery, Colonialism and Imperialism

Take up the White Man’s burden,
Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile,
to serve your captives’ need; To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

Rudyard Kipling, 1899

‘In a major address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2003, President George W Bush described the fight against contemporary slavery and human trafficking in the following terms:

We must show new energy in fighting back an old evil. Nearly two centuries after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and more than a century after slavery was officially ended in its last strongholds, the trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time.

Few people noticed it at the time, but this statement contained a basic historical error. It has not been “more than a century” since slavery officially ended. While legal slavery in the Americas ended in the nineteenth century, in many parts of the globe legal abolition took place during the first half of the twentieth century. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, which is my main focus here, slavery remained legal in Sudan until 1900, Kenya until 1907, Sierra Leone until 1928 and Ethiopia until 1942. This more recent history is important, because it leads to a series of uncomfortable and difficult questions about the motivations behind—and practical effects of—the anti-slavery cause, with the elephant in the room being the close relationship between anti-slavery, imperialism, and European colonialism.’ – Joel Quirk, University of Witwatersrand. Read more:

From Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University, Newsletter February 23 2015.

Liberating the Southern Slave Plantations

‘Early 1865 was the season when millions were freed from slavery, as Yankee armies crisscrossed the Deep South and unlocked the gates of a thousand plantations. I imagine these scenes were similar to ones at the end of World War II in Europe, when American and Soviet armies arrived at the gates of the German camps in Central and Eastern Europe. In popular memory — in white memory — the plantations of the antebellum South were like a necklace of country clubs strewn across the land. In reality, they were a chain of work camps in which four million were imprisoned. Their inhabitants, slaves, were very much survivors, in the Holocaust sense of that word.’ So writes Edward Ball, descendent of slave owners, in a piece about Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother liberating the Ball plantation slaves as officer of the 35th United States Colored Troops regiment, in The New York Times Sunday Review on 14 March. He is author of the book Slaves in the Family.

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s