British Black History events & news at 19 March


See 22 March talk

Monday, 20 March. 6.45 for 7.15pm. Seretse Khama and the making of Botswana

Botswana is not just the land of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but of Seretse Khama, hero of the film A United Kingdom. Chief from the age of 4, Seretse married a white South Londoner in the teeth of opposition from the UK and South African governments and his own people. Botswana was one of the world’s poorest countries, but as its first president this man of many skills (and a sense of humour) set it on the road to being prosperous, peaceful and democratic. Local resident Prof. Charlie Harvey tells how.

Friends of Durning Library. Light refreshments. Everyone is welcome. No admission charge, £2 donation towards costs is invited.

Durning Library, 167 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 4HF

Wednesday 22 March. 5.30-7pm. Tracking The Lady and the Blackamoor: Ballad Song, Image, and Publics, 1570-1789

Talk by Patricia Fumerton (University of California Santa Barbara/London Renaissance Seminar Visiting Fellow 2016/17) at special meeting of London University’s Long Eighteenth Seminar

University of London Senate House

7-10pm. Reception + dinner at Spaghetti House, 15 Goodge Street, W1T 2PG.

Numbers will be restricted to 42 on a first-come-first-served basis; those attending will be asked to contribute £15 a head to the cost of the meal.

To register for the event go to:

7 April onwards. Tuesday-Saturday, 10.00am-6.00pm (last entry 5.30pm). Black Sound Exhibition. Black British Music’s Journey of Creative Independence

This exhibition tells the story of 100 years of musical creativity and DIY ingenuity. Overcoming the majority status quo of the music industry, Black British music has migrated from the margins to re-master the mainstream. This exhibition celebrates the pioneers that made it happen – the players, the promoters, the producers and the punters that changed Britain’s cultural history.

This timely exhibition combines sound, moving image and archive material, to dynamically tell the story of Black British music. Black Sound takes you through three phases of this musical journey: Original Imports, D.I.Y Culture and Re-mastering the Mainstream. These themes are consistent throughout the history of Black British music, linking individuals, generations and genres – tracking the evolution of multi-cultural Britain through sound.

Free admission. Audio-guided tour for £3

Black Cultural Archives, Windrush Square, Brixton

Thursday 27 April, 1-2pm. Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen

Talk by her biographer Stephen

Entrance £3. Black Cultural Archives, Windrush Square, Brixton

Thursday 25 May. 1-2pm. Samuel Coleridge Taylor

Talk by his biographer Jeffrey Green

£3. Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square, Brixton

Paul Robeson New Biography

No Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson. Jeff Sparrow (Scribe – Australia)

Amy Ashwood’s Struggle in Pan-Africanist Feminism

See US February Black History Month appreciation at

Notes from What’s Happening in Black British History Workshop 6, 16 March

  • Institute for Black Atlantic Research (UCLAN)

Head by Professor Alan Rice IBAR promotes dialogue and scholarship on African Diaspora Studies. Alan and students gave papers on Lost Childtren, the Black Atlantic and Northern Britain, Ira Aklridge in Britain, and The Haitian Revolution and British Black Radicals 1804-1819. IBAR has a major Conference Red and Black in October – see posting 18 March

Haitian Revolution

Raphael Hoermann’s paper introduced us to the Hispanola poem by Samuel Whitchurch (1804) and Toussaint to His Troops by Edward Rushton (1806). He also highlighted the neglected importance of Robert Wedderburn, it is clear that there is a  need for a full biography. He also showed the image of The Peterloo Medal which depicts a kneeling man ‘Am I not a Man and a Brother?’, to which the yeoman solider replies that ‘No! You are a poor weaver’. This is an interesting image to analyse.

See image in

  • Ira Aldridge

Teresa Saxon on Ira Aldridge looked at the regional responses to his performances, which were very different to those in London. I commented that this was an important piece of research, and wondered to whether any evidence had come to light of his meeting and talking with abolitionists in the towns her performed. Referring to his house between Croydon and Crystal Palace, I urged the need for in-depth biographies on his daughters.

  • Father’s Migration Stories

Hannah Lowe (Kingston University) talked about Ormonde: Post-War Caribbean Migration through Poetry, triggered by the fact that her father a Chinese Jamaican, came over on the SS Ormonde in March 1947. She read some of her poems based on the story. SunAndi discussed her Nigerian father’s experience. Her book of poems The Story of M  a tribute to her Nigerian father and English mother. It has been put on the EDEXCEL Exam Board A-Levels English Literature Syllabus Black British List.

  • The Black Presence in Greater Manchester

SunAndi was supported by Jackie Ould of AfroSolo UK, the project that has been researching the black presence in Greater Manchester.

Jackie is also Education Outreach Coordinator at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, which runs the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah  Race Relations Resource Centre sponsored by the University of Manchester. For more details on both see:

  • The Ormonde and the Windrush

Hannah Lowe’s talk stimulated a discussion as to why the Windrush had become the symbol of West Indian immigration, as if there was no previous black arrival and presence. In opening the panel I chaired on Black British Experiences of War I suggested that the Windrush importance was very much due to the campaigning of the Windrushers themselves and their supporters , and those involved in that work  were also active in work on the long Black presence e.g. Arthur Torrington through the Equiano Society. I could also have added that the Windrush is particularly historically important as a symbol of a new development in Britain and a symbol of the defeat of Nazism, having been a boat originally built for Hitler Youth Baltic holidays and then captured by the British during the War.

  • Preston Black History Group

This group researches, preserves and celebrates black history and culture to highlight the achievements of people of African descent, motivate community and social development, promoter confidence in social enterprise, and share the histories with the wider community.

African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire Project

Lauren Darwin of the project spoke about the experience of black sailors before, during and after World War One in Hull.

It is an HLF funded William Wilberforce Monument Fund community project exploring the stories of people of African descent in Hull and East Yorkshire from the 1750s until 2007.

  • BBC Radio 3 Funding British Black Music in 20thC Project

Elizabeth Burke of Loftus Media, who worked on the BBC Radio 3 programme on Black Britian by Professor Gretchen Gerzina, is now working on a Black British Music in 20C series. She can be contacted via Elizabeth attended the What’s Happening in Black British History Workshop 6 on 16 March, and was on the closing panel.

  • First World War Memorials of African, Asian and Caribbean Colonial servicemen in Britain

John Siblon, a sixth form history teacher and postgraduate at Birkbeck College, gave a devastating critique of the way in which colonial servicemen were memorialised, or rather largely not memorialised. This well illustrated talk deserves to be booked all round the country as it continues to remember the War.

  • Deciphering Photographs

Melissa Bennett (postgrad Uni. Warwick) gave an interesting talk on her research into photographs of black military bodes prior to the First World War, and the complexities of analysing the poses and the way they were displayed in albums.

  • The Black Presence in the Countryside

Corrine Fowler (Uni. Leicester) discussed how creative writers could raise public awareness of the Black histories of Britain’s Countryside and why it matters. These days there seems to be virulent racism in the countryside, despite the long black presence in English country houses. She discussed why the presence of the African-American jazz singer in Downtown Abbey was not typical. She referred to the work of Ingrid Pollard, the novel Tale of Lady Caraboo set in Knowle Park, the films Belle and Heathcliffe, the book Country house and the British Empire 1799-1920, Kat Donnington on the Hibberts, the black presence in the TV series Poldark, and Caryl Phillips The Lost Child.



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.
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