women of achievement Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE
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PUBLISHERS: Ian Thomas, Abdul Rob MANAGING EDITOR: Ian Thomas PRODUCTION MANAGER: David Ruiz PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Mohammad Sadegh DESIGNED BY: Becky Wybrow ADVERTISING: Richard Jones, Elizabeth Forde, Christine Jones LISTINGS EDITOR: David Ruiz CONTRIBUTORS: Jim Grover, Pawlet Brookes, John Stevenson, Stephen Bourne, Ayesha Williams, Marcia Grant, Patrick Vernon, Scratchylus, Arike Oke, Elizabeth Johnson, Muli Amaye, Professor Sir Geoff (Godfrey) Palmer, Lt Col Tim Petransky, Nichola Hartwell, Elaine MacDonald, and Rob Neil
44 QUEENS OF SHEBA
An interview with Director Jessica Kaliisa
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn MP - Leader of the Labour Party, Jo Swinson MP - Leader of the Liberal Democrats, David Lammy MP, Raj Tulsani - CEO of Green Park
45 SOLID LINES A poem for Black History
16 IN CONVERSATION WITH DOREEN LAWRENCE OBE
20 MY MOTHER, JAMAICA, WINDRUSH AND ME
By Geoff Thompson MBE
By Rob Neil OBE
By Professor Sir Geoff (Godfrey) Brookes
24 BLACK WOMEN SHOULD BE SEEN AND HEARD By Pawlet Brookes 26 BLACK CULTURAL ARCHIVES WHO ARE WE? By Arike Oke 27 BRINGING THE BRITISH ARMY’S BLACK HISTORY TO LIFE By Lt Col Tim Petransky of The British Army
28 BLACK FEMALE OWNERSHIP By Nichola Hartwell
30 WINDRUSH: PORTRAIT OF A GENERATION By Jim Grover 34 BLACK BRITISH FEMALE AUTHORS YOU SHOULD READ By Elaine MacDonald
36 BLACK WOMEN WHO HAVE INSPIRED BRITAIN By Elizabeth Johnson
Month by Ayesha Williams
46 MULI AMAYE 48 CELEBRATING OUR SISTERHOOD - A DEBT TO ALL OUR MOTHERS 50 CLAUDIA JONES By Marcia Grant 52 WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER? 54 RUSH A Joyous Jamaican Journey - a musical about the history of Reggae Music 56 IMPROVING THE DIVERSITY AT THE PAROLE BOARD By Martin Jones, CEO 58 THE WOMEN WHO INSPIRE ME By Cherron Inko-Tariah MBE
60 “NEW DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA” BY MARGARET BUSBY A review by John Stevenson
64 KATHERINE JOHNSON: A LIFETIME OF STEM 66 AN IMAGE TO INSPIRE BY A BELOVED SON By John Stevenson
42 BLACK POPPIES By Stephen Bourne BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
‘We have found in the RAF, ENGINEER
My name is Squadron Leader Shep Matungamire and I am a Communications Engineer currently based at HQ Air Command and working in a newly formed organisation called the Rapid Capabilities Office. I was specifically chosen to be the first Comms Engineer within this organisation and my role is to engage, influence and provide subject matter expertise to enable the effective exploitation of Communication Information Systems for the prosecution of Air operations in support of the Warfighter. I have had a challenging, interesting and diverse working experience during my 15 years in the RAF, namely within the Cyber, Electronic Warfare, Radar and Space environment. I am in a position to make or influence change, which has been exciting, rewarding and fulfilling.
HUMAN RESOURCES BERNICE DZEKASHU
I am Senior Aircraftwoman Bernice Dzekashu. Before I joined the Royal Air Force, I already had an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Wales. I am also a part-qualified chartered accountant with just one course left to complete my chartered accounting programme with ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountant). The RAF has been supportive and keen to invest in me. I am now considering commissioning, to send a message to a lot of highly skilled and experienced civilians like you, that there is a career in the RAF, which is just as rewarding (if not more) as any in civvy street. My decision to join the RAF has been one of the best decisions of my life. My fitness and lifestyle has greatly improved and every day I proudly wear my uniform knowing that I am serving this great country.
There are lots of diverse roles on offer at the Royal Air Force. Meet some of the individuals working in these exciting jobs…
oday’s modern Royal Air Force is the UK’s aerial, peacekeeping and fighting force. It’s made up of impressive full-time Regulars and spare-time Reservists who come from hugely diverse backgrounds and work side-by-side to make a difference at home and abroad. When it comes to recruitment our focus is on attracting the best personnel, and ensuring that they’re well taken care of during and after the service in the RAF. The unique skills and values that diverse individuals bring to the RAF are an essential facet of our business and underpin all we do. Whether at home supporting our communities or overseas on operations, we know that our true strength lies in the diversity of our people. Whatever your academic background, there are a range of great opportunities in the RAF. Some require minimal qualifications; others require specialist skills, higher qualifications and/or a degree. The RAF has more than 50 available roles and multiple career development opportunities. We employ everyone from Chefs and Photographers, to Cyberspace Communications Systems Technicians, Linguists, Doctors and Pilots. One route to joining is as an RAF Apprentice – this offers you the chance to gain a UK-recognised trade qualification as part of a challenging and unique career. The RAF is a Top 100 apprenticeship provider, has the best apprenticeship completion rate of any national employer (over 99%) and is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Not only will you gain a civilian-recognised professional qualification, but upon completion you’ll also have a guaranteed job in your chosen field. You’ll receive the very best training and as well as getting paid to learn, the chance to travel the world, play sport and perform a vital national role. Alternatively, should you have the appropriate qualifications, you could apply for a Commission and become an Officer in a wide range of branches including Engineering, Intelligence, Air Battle Manager, or Air Traffic Control, among many others. Whatever your role, the Royal Air Force is committed to investing in every one of its truly valued personnel.
TO FIND OUT MORE Please visit our website www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/about-the-raf
LAWYER IPHIE MODU
I am Flight Lieutenant Iphie Modu. I started my Royal Air Force career in 2004 as a part-time Reservist with No 600 (City of London) RAuxAF Squadron, RAF Northolt. Following a call to the Bar of England and Wales in 2009 I joined the RAF Legal Branch in 2014. My rationale at the
time was that because I loved the law and the military, it made perfect sense to combine the two. My interests include social justice, youth work and community development. I also enjoys poetry, amateur field hockey and fencing.
a fulfilling career you can too!’ SPORT
I am Wing Commander Tosin Talabi, a consultant physician working in the regional occupational medicine department at RAF College Cranwell. I am one of many specialists in occupational medicine within the Defence Primary Healthcare. I left the NHS in January 2000 to join the RAF as a specialist entry officer. I planned to serve for only six years but I am still serving 17 years later! In the RAF, I have worked as a GP, aviation medicine instructor, manager and trainer, training other doctors to become specialists. I have worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, UAE and the Falkland islands. Being a doctor in the RAF means doing a wide variety of jobs. It is never boring and you are always trained and supported before undertaking new roles.
My name is Corporal Phillipa Bulya, and I am a nurse in the Princess Mary Royal Air Force Nursing Service. After graduating as a nurse in the civilian world, I worked in King’s College London Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the country, but I still desired to achieve more, not only in my career but also for the chance to develop myself and enhance my personal attributes. I joined the Royal Air Force in 2015. This has seriously broadened my opportunities to work in various medical areas. I have now worked in Emergency Care, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Surgery; thus making me a more rounded nurse with a lot more experience towards my clinical career. Additionally, the RAF has given me the ability to take part in amazing activities such as adventurous training, which have really pushed my limits and made me discover many resilience and personality traits I did not realise I had in me.
CATERING PASCAL ZGAMBO
My name is Corporal Pascal Zgambo; although born in Malawi, I have mostly lived a nomadic life across Africa and Europe before permanently settling in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1999. I attended University of East London for my tertiary education where a careers fair enticed me into joining the Royal Air Force. My persistence in furthering myself and others through continuous personal development saw me get specially selected into an instructional role (Catering) within the Joint Services Food Service Wing. Having excelled in this role, an opportunity was presented to me to join the Apprenticeship Centre and champion the intermediate apprenticeships that we offer to our trainee Chefs and Logistics Caterers.
My name is Aircraftman Solomon Wariso, and I am the former Editorat-Large of The Powerlist magazine, as well as a former Team GB relay reserve at two Olympic Games and a world-class 200 and 400 metres runner. I worked for several years as a journalist and then as a sports agent. In 2015, at the Powerlist Influencers’ Dinner, I met members of the Royal Air Force, a meeting which changed my life. I’m now a very proud part-time Reservist member of 2623 RAF Regiment RAuxAF Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk. Giving something back to the country is one of the best experiences of my eventful life.
My name is Corporal Salim Hill. I was born in Edgware in North London and I am 33. I have served in the RAF for 12 years, seven months as an Aircraft Technician. The RAF offers a lot of sporting opportunities, which was a major factor in me joining. I have boxed for the RAF, represented the Combined Services and won an English National title. I have also boxed all over the UK and in international competitions. The RAF has given me the opportunity to undergo an Engineering Management degree which I am working towards. I am a BME Ambassador which gives me an opportunity to access and recruit individuals from ethnic backgrounds.
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Welcome to Black History Month Magazine 2019
he Sugar Media & Marketing Team are extremely pleased to present the 2019 edition of Black History Month Magazine. It’s always a labour of love for us and although it does have many challenges, it’s ultimately about producing a quality publication that people enjoy reading and value as part of the month-long celebrations across the UK. When we sat down to discuss the long list of potential themes and issues we could consider as part of this year’s magazine. We soon realised that for some time now since Black History Month started in the UK in 1987, a dedicated feature on the role and contributions of Black Women was long overdue and should be the focus for this year. Hopefully, we have achieved that aim and objective and that, You, the reader and wider public agree as well. So, this year, with the help of our friends, partners and associates we will be celebrating the many inspiring Women of Achievement in the UK. As since the Windrush, their commitment to society and that of the generations since has proved invaluable to the UK. We’re inspired by bold women every day: the women in our families, on our team and in our circles of friends; the women in our history books and those in the news; the women of our past and the women of now; and the inspiring women who’ve paved the way for future generations. They are unique, remarkable, resilient and at times the bedrock and solid foundations in many families and communities across the nation. Many of you will know such women in your own lives and we urge you to take time during Black History Month to recognise them as “Women of Achievement”. It's important to note that this is not seen as a definitive list or any kind of ranking. We have plenty of credible awards and events throughout the year that recognise, celebrate and promote the fantastic achievements and contributions made by so Women of Achievement to the success of our multi-cultural society. This is even more remarkable given the ongoing challenges faced by Black females, who at times face and deal with the unnecessary double disadvantage around race and gender in many areas of their lives through societal and structural inequalities.
We were all extremely excited when Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE very kindly agreed to be on the front cover of the Black History Month Magazine and give a very personal interview to our good friend and supporter, Rob Neil OBE. We are grateful to Rob for taking the lead in making this all happen. In our view Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE, opitimises the struggles and resilience of our narrative about Women of Achievement. Sadly, since the horrible murder of her beloved son, Stephen Lawrence on 22 April, 1993. She and her family have had to live their lives out in the national public arena. In that time, she has risen to the status of a National Icon and known across the globe in her efforts for justice and equality despite not looking for the headlines for any personal gain. As part of our efforts and campaign work to promote Black History Month across the country; workplaces, public service institutions, Schools and the education sector. We have been very pleased with the response for The BHM Resource Pack. This allows organisations and individuals to have a wonderful opportunity to be part of the national celebrations and events. It helps to create awareness, understanding and deepen much needed knowledge to help honour the too-often unheralded accomplishments of Black Britons in every area of endeavor throughout our history. This unique resource pack celebrates the enormous contribution Black Britons have made to our vibrant and diverse society. Our culture and society have been enriched and made stronger because of the people who travelled here to build new lives in the UK, as well as the achievements and contributions of their descendants today. We do hope you enjoy this years Black History Month Magazine as well the fantastic array of information, events listings, resources and other valuable content available online at www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk. Please feel to tell us of the Women of Achievement that you have been motivated and inspired by. It is important that we keep the importance and essence of Black History Month alive by continually telling stories that need to be seen and heard. Finally, best wishes for a happy, joyous and fantastic Black History Month! BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
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We aim to be an inclusive, supportive employer with a workforce that reflects the communities we serve.
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
MESSAGE FROM THE PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON Black History Month always provides a fantastic opportunity for us to recognise the outstanding contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made to our country over many generations. From business, law and education to technology, sport and the creative arts, Black British people continue to leave an indelible mark upon every sphere of life in Britain. I’m immensely proud to lead a global, outward-facing country known across the world for its rich and vibrant cultural diversity, and for the undeniable wealth of skills and talent for which we are admired. The Black British community, with its infectious entrepreneurial spirit, is leading the charge in the business arena: more than 11,000 BAME entrepreneurs have received government-backed Start Up Loans since 2012 and as we leave the European Union, opportunities to unleash talent and creativity around the world will only increase. So, I say to all your readers: as we celebrate throughout October, we not only look back with enormous gratitude to the AfricanCaribbean community for your huge contribution to Britain – we also look forward with great optimism for the future of our great country, and for the chance for us all to share in that bright future. I wish you all a very successful month.
JO SWINSON’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH MESSAGE
Black History Month is a time to focus our national attention on the history and legacy of black British communities. Each year it is an opportunity to acknowledge the central role that black people have played in transforming the social, political and economic landscape of our country. The contributions of black Britons are rich and varied, yet for too long we have ignored the legacy of black pioneers and accepted a narrative that confines the history of black people to that of slaves and colonial subjects. This is not good enough. Worse still, when we do celebrate black Britons, the contributions of black women are massively diminished. Yet, despite having to contend with both racial and gender oppression black women continue to drive social, political and cultural change. This year let us celebrate the women of the past, such as Olive Morris, a feminist who dedicated her life to equality and activism. The women of the present, like Olivette Otele, who in 2018 became the UK’s first black female history professor. And let us empower the next generation of activists and trailblazers and do all we can to ensure that their achievements will never be absent from the history books. The Liberal Democrats will never be silent or indifferent in the face of discrimination. It is our goal to fight for a country where every person, regardless of their background, is able to live freely
and fulfil their potential without fear of hate or prejudice. That’s the world we strive for and that’s the world we must work every day to make possible. Finally, I want to thank everyone involved in organising this year’s Black History Month celebrations and I wish you all an enjoyable and engaging month ahead.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
MESSAGE FROM JEREMY CORBYN MP The Labour Party this Black History Month recommits our pledge to stand with Britain’s black communities and celebrate the strength and unity of our diverse country. We draw courage and inspiration from the struggles of Black campaigners for equality over the centuries, including the first Black MPs in parliament who were elected as Labour MPs over 30 years ago. My dear friend the late Bernie Grant is one of those individuals to whom we owe so much, and one of those giants on whose shoulders we now all stand. He was a champion of his community, a dedicated constituency MP and his legacy has inspired a generation of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic leaders. I am proud that this year we launched the Bernie Grant programme – an initiative to address the under-representation of BAME individuals in elected office that will ensure more BAME Labour Party members become leaders in our movement, and I’m proud we named it after Bernie. With our first forty participants graduating last month we now have a pathway for our activists to develop skills, learn from each other and become leaders within the Labour Party and in Parliament. I pay tribute to Bernie, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz for paving the way when they took their seats in Parliament in 1987. It is over thirty years later, but the past few years serve as a stark reminder that we should never take hard fought rights and freedoms for granted. With the Black British community still fighting for justice after the Windrush scandal, now more than ever before we must reflect on our shared history. That is why a Labour government will introduce an Emancipation Educational Trust so that as a society we are able to more fully understand the role and legacy of the British Empire, colonisation and slavery – and ensure that such grave injustices can never happen again.
Almost a decade of austerity handed down by this government has hit BAME families disproportionately hard, causing untold hardship and poverty. Locally and nationally our public services have been cut to the bone and strained the fabric of our society
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
– it is the vulnerable and those who can least afford it who have been forced to bear the greatest burden under this government. We also know that the use of stop and search, particularly in our inner city areas, disproportionately affects young black males. Earlier this year I was outraged when the Home Office, instead of investing in a public health approach to tackling violent crime, rolled out a crude and offensive anti-knife crime advertising campaign on fried chicken boxes. The rising level of knife crime that we see on our streets is a direct result of huge cuts to our police and youth services, starving our public services of the funding they need. A Labour government will support communities, not stereotype, demonise and stigmatise them.
Things cannot go on as they are any longer – we need to learn from our collective history and make sure future generations don’t suffer. As our high streets come under threat with shops closing up and down the country, I want black businesses and entrepreneurs to come forward and lead the way to help revitalise their communities. With Labour in government, we would give power to councils to re-open empty shops that can be used by communities to help grow small businesses and to provide spaces for activities, as I saw being trialled in Bolton a couple of months ago. So, this Black History Month, I want us all to come together to stand up against austerity and to stand up for our communities. Join a trade union; become politically active; start a business and organise within your community. Things cannot go on as they are any longer – we need to learn from our collective history and make sure future generations don’t suffer. Our strength has always been in diversity and as the Leader of the Labour Party, I will continue to celebrate that fact.
At Centrica, we’re committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion - and recognise how these principles underpin our success. It is critical that as an organisation we reflect the diverse communities our Brands represent. We place equality, diversity, care and respect at the heart of our policies and everyday practices to ensure that all employees can bring their whole selves to work. We’re celebrating Black History month to recognise the achievements and contributions of black people not just in the UK, but throughout the world. During October we will be hosting a series of activities, such as our group unconscious bias training, to heighten awareness of actual or perceived barriers for our employees as well as our customers. We want to remove the things which get in the way to ensure everyone has the best opportunities and outcomes. As a responsible business, we are committed to creating an environment where everyone can flourish, which is why we introduced our 2030 Responsible Business Ambitions (RBAs). The RBAs include 15 long-term goals, focused on four areas: Customers, Climate Change, Colleagues and Communities. Our Colleagues pillar is focused on developing a skilled and inclusive workforce to deliver for our customers and we aspire for our senior leadership to reflect the full diversity of our labour markets, with ethnicity and gender diversity at the heart. By 2022, we aspire for 33% female and 10% ethnic minority representation in senior leadership, in-keeping with our commitment to the Parker Review and Hampton Alexander recommendations. Centrica has a thriving Ethnicity working group. The group was set up to identify the actual or perceived barriers of ethnic
minority employees to ensure continuous improvement to our culture & practices, as well as to drive grass root activity to enable us to meet our strategic long-term goals. As a result, the Ethnicity working group has re-launched as an Ethnicity Network, which we officially celebrated during our annual National Inclusion Week celebrations last month.
We need to reflect society because actually, if we don’t then we can’t meet the needs of our customers Each year, we run a ‘Count Me In’ campaign designed to better understand the composition of our workforce. This year, Count Me In was led by Sarwjit Sambhi, Managing Director of Centrica Consumer and he stated “Unless we understand diversity in a business, then actually we can’t care for each other and understand those differences. For me it’s important, because the people who work in Centrica need to reflect society. We need to reflect society because actually, if we don’t then we can’t meet the needs of our customers’”. As a result of the campaign, we now have a 92% declaration rate -- 64% declared, 28% prefer not to say and 8% blank. We are committed to ensuring Centrica is an attractive career destination and a great place to work whoever you are.
DAVID LAMMY MP Each year Black History Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on the huge contribution Black Britons have made to the country we live in.
The groups of black men and women who have made their homes in the UK since at least the 12th century. The sacrifices of the Windrush generation who helped rebuild our country following the catastrophe of World War Two. The generations of Britons with African heritage who followed them, adding so much to our art, culture, economy and way of life. But Black History Month is also a chance to consider the state of where we are on race as a nation, and to decide which lessons to take from our past. An honest assessment of our current trajectory is deeply concerning. We are living in a moment where racially motivated hate crimes are rising to unprecedented levels. Xenophobia and hate is spreading like wildfire both online and on our streets. A resurgent white supremacist movement is gaining currency across the western world. Yet as recently as ten years ago, you could have been forgiven for believing that progress moved in a straight line. The civil rights movement in the second half of the 20th century triggered emancipation for black people far beyond North America. In liberal democracies like the UK, overt racism became less prevalent in the decades that followed. Fixing historic injustices has been slow, but politicians at least began to grapple with the reality of discrimination against ethnic minorities in the workplace, the justice system, universities and elsewhere. Crucially we started to replace ethnic nationalism with a civic nationalism. The former suggested that being British meant being white and having ancestors who have lived on these islands for generations back. This is what flourished in the era of colonial Britain, where the oppression of foreign peoples was justified by the idea that people with different skin tones were essentially different. The latter, civic nationalism, is an inclusive conception of national identity which has nothing to do with genetic heritage. It says that Britishness should be based on shared values and institutions, as well as a commitment to build a shared future around them.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
The next few years will mark a crucial turning point in British history, which will have particular consequences for black people. This is when we will settle on one of the two competing ideas of national identity. How should we act when faced by this stark choice? The first option is to act complacent. We can sit back and watch as ethnic nationalism takes over our politics and our culture, leaving Black Britons rights and opportunities under threat. Historically, this would mark a regression to divisive ideas of Britishness, which many of us believed we had abandoned long ago. The alternative is to start the fight-back for a civic nationalism. Begin a defence of the civic Britishness identity, which is open all races, classes, men, women, as well as people from cities and towns. Together we must now stand up for the rights and protections our ancestors fought so hard to win. If we have learnt anything from our history, we will give everything to protect them.
TOGETHER WE MUST NOW STAND UP FOR THE RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS OUR ANCESTORS FOUGHT SO HARD TO WIN.
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As the Permanent Secretary and Race Equality Champion of the Home Office, this is third year in a row that we have featured in Black History Month (BHM) magazine. This is in collaboration with The NETWORK our award-winning Race Equality staff support group.
he NETWORK celebrates, its 20th anniversary in November this year and continues to be the “critical friend” to the Home Office, continually holding me and other senior leaders to account, providing internal challenge and voice for staff to raise issues relating to Race Equality. It is important that the Home Office have a strong and vibrant staff support group that focusses on Race, as we are the most ethnically diverse government department in Whitehall with nearly a quarter of our employees coming from the UK’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from towns and cities across the country. It is important to me that we recognise and celebrate the culture, and fantastic contributions of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people to the UK, both past and present and the historical context. This year, we have marked significant events including, the first National Stephen Lawrence day on 22nd April 2019. The NETWORK, organised 5 events throughout April. We were honoured to hear from Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, who shared some of the achievements of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and reflected on her intent to uphold the legacy of her son Stephen’s life in a meaningful way. I was moved to hear Baroness Lawrence say that, when she started the journey for justice following Stephen’s death, she could never have envisaged the impact it would have on society, and that it would eventually lead to having a day to commemorate the Life and Legacy of Stephen. This year was also the first National Windrush day marking 71 years since the Windrush passengers disembarked at Tilbury Docks. The NETWORK held 3 events and heard from a variety of Home Office staff, who are working hard, as part of the Windrush response to provide those people affected with the correct documentation and compensation that they are rightly entitled to. We also heard from Wendy Williams, who leads the Independent Windrush Lessons Learned Review, whose report is expected to be published shortly. The review is important to us as it will shape the future of the Home Office and put Race at the heart of our decision-making process. The Home Office has also set up brand new dedicated teams to manage compensation claims from the Windrush Generation. I ask of you, to spread the word within your community to come forward and submit all claims.
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We recognise we cannot do this on our own, and we are determined to put right the historical wrongs. We have also created an internal Race Action Programme team who will lead on a specific Race Action Plan for the Home Office, to make our department and its work on policy and operation truly reflective of the public and the communities we serve. This includes providing training to all our Senior Civil Servants on diversity and inclusion and the Public-Sector Equality Duty, and for all our staff training packages on Unconscious Bias and Race Awareness. Every day of the year, Home Office staff play a vital role in protecting the UK’s borders, fighting crime and terrorism and maintaining the integrity of our immigration system. This is difficult but important work, which underpins our society. If we are to work effectively and enjoy the confidence of the public, it is crucial that all parts of our organisation reflect who we are as a country and the communities we serve. And that those from all backgrounds who are drawn to public service see the Home Office as a place they can fulfil their potential. Sir Philip Rutnam Permanent Secretary and Race Equality Champion of the Home Office. Recognising, valuing and celebrating difference is part of my DNA and therefore existed long before my recent appointment as Director for Organisational Development. For me, the investment and creation of this role is a real sign that the Home Office means ‘business’ in its drive to secure a positive shift in culture and behaviours. I feel privileged to help lead this change, commit to putting D&I at the heart of everything we do and reinvigorate the
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
MESSAGE FROM RAJ TULSIANI
Diversity and Inclusion agenda. Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018-2025 sets out our ambitions collectively seeking to create an inclusive culture. But as we know, the challenge is bringing that to life and translate what has been written, in to something that looks and feels different within and across our organisation. Growing up in Eltham, South East London in the 80’s, being the minority in every sense of the word was life. Rather than have that define who I am, it has helped shape what I stand for; and as a black woman, I am proud to again support and actively participate in Black History Month. Black History Month plays a crucial role in supporting, educating and enabling all staff to embrace difference and use the power of diversity to succeed regardless of background. It is a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate contributions that are sometimes unsung during the remaining 11 months of the year and I encourage you all to get involved. That 15 mins to attend a talk, engage in conversation or read an article might be the thing that helps boost your contribution to this important agenda. Dionne Corradine Director for Organisational Development.
Once again Green Park is delighted to be supporting Black History Month magazine and its ongoing campaign for racial equality and equal recognition. This important aim is in line with the principles at the heart of the recruitment and consulting work we do every day at Green Park. I’m glad to see there is a special feature on the significant achievements and contribution of Black British women to the successful growth of our country in so many important fields from business, arts, culture and social justice. As CEO of Green Park, I have been especially privileged to work with some of the top Black female leaders as customers and as part of our annual BAME on Boards network such as the wonderful Dr Yvonne Thompson, Colleen Harris, Cindy Butts, Amee Chand and Althea Loderick who all clearly demonstrate the abundance of talent available and too often denied. Last year we placed a Diverse leader onto a board every 14 days, and from that we have learnt that attitudes within that leadership cadre are changing. This leads to an increase in a firm’s reputation and the credibility of their internal diversity and inclusion policies and projects. The clear benefit is the positive effect on our diverse networks of talented and capable senior leaders across many sectors in the UK. They tell us they are more interested and confident in moving to those businesses. Hopefully over the next 12 months we’ll see more consumers opting out from brands and organisations who refuse to “walk the walk” required to turn corporate aspirations into recognised sets of measurable improvements in diversity and inclusion. For those who are serious, WE stand up ready to help. Raj Tulsiani CEO, Green Park
Thereâ€™s no halo, just say
Rob Neil OBE, talks to his friend Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
My name is Rob Neil and I am a long serving, some might say long suffering, civil servant. I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of my career (to date) and met some fantastic people along the way. This article features one of those people whom I am honoured to call my friend.
fter yet another unprecedented night (and early morning) of political swings and roundabouts, I find myself at the Peers Entrance to the House’s of Parliament. As I engage security, I’m feeling a tad nervous but prepared to interview my favourite Baroness whom I had first met ten years earlier in 2009 when I was working at the Ministry of Justice. Doreen Delceita Lawrence was born on 24 October 1952 and her full title is Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE. Now, this Baroness is a British Jamaican campaigner and, perhaps, best known as the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was murdered in a racist attack in South East London in 1993. Doreen, as she is known to family and friends, promoted reforms of the police service and founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. She was awarded an OBE for “services to community relations” in 2003 and created a Life Peer in 2013. In January 2016, Doreen was appointed Chancellor of De Montfort University, Leicester. After a short wait in the foyer, I am greeted by a smiling and serene Doreen who has arrived bang on time for our scheduled interview. We make our way to a rather grand and ornately decorated hall just outside the entrance to the Lords chamber, alas no picture taking is allowed once inside the building (sorry). We both take a few moments to settle and Doreen has a quick glance at a TV monitor fixed to the wall behind me which details current activity being conducted in the Chamber. Doreen nods quietly to confirm that we are good to go and I start by thanking her for agreeing to be interviewed, commending her on how fantastic she looks, especially given the late night (Doreen and fellow members of the Lords were at work until 1.30am that morning!!!) and forewarning her that some of my questions might be tricky. So, here are a few of the questions and answers we shared… What was your dream job growing up? Nurse. I’ve always wanted to care for others ever since I was a little girl. Which living person do you most admire? President Barack Obama. His plan was a
bold one and what he tried to achieve e.g. Obamacare, was inspirational and full of hope. What superpower would you like to have? I’m not sure, but I’d like for it to result in MORE people listening to and hearing from young people. Who is your dream dinner party guest? Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela and the wonderful Aretha Franklin. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I’m told that I sometimes come across as stern and quite strict. I don't mean to be and I rarely feel that way BUT I'm told that my face does convey that (sometimes). What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty. I’d rather not ask you a question than listen to a lie. What's your most embarrassing moment? Ooooh, I’m not sure I can tell you that :-) What is your greatest extravagance? I once found myself in a jewellery shop in Jamaica and... well, let’s just say I bought far too much! What objects do you always carry with you? Two mobile phones (don’t ask), my bracelet and lovely watch I got as a gift for my 60th Birthday which I never have to worry about winding up, it’s automatic. What is your favourite word/phrase? Me one and GOD. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? False hope, quickly followed by false sacrifice. What are you reading/listening to at the moment? I’ve just finished reading ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama (a fantastic book). I’m ready for my next holiday… which is when I relax and read. What is your favourite movie? I’m not sure I have a favourite movie, but I did find ‘The Hate U Give’ compelling and authentic. A real reminder that life is precious and that we should never take what we have for granted. BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Can you list five songs/tracks you listen to regularly? Redemption Song (Marley), The Israelites (Dekker), R.E.S.P.E.C.T and Say a Little Prayer (Franklin)….oh and right now it’s George Ezra’s Shotgun. How would you like to be remembered? As someone who listened to young people and tried my very best to hear (and act on) what they were saying. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? That life is for living and that we can all support each other in living our best life. That is what I hope the legacy of Stephen’s Day (22nd April) will be for generations to come. As my questions draw to a close Doreen reflects on her recent visit to Salt Lake City in Utah, USA where she was able to talk about her ongoing work in support of Stephen Lawrence Day on 22nd April. Doreen’s ambition is to grow Stephen’s legacy internationally and ensure that more and more young people around the world are living their best life. Doreen rejects the notion of any halo above her head, she says “we can all respect each others space whilst still finding the time to say hello.” Accessible, hard working and a true believer in community, now that’s my favourite kinda’ Baroness!!!
SOME MILESTONES WORTH SHARING On 27 July 2012, Lawrence took part in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, holding the Olympic flag with seven others. In April 2014, she was named as Britain’s most influential woman in the BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Power List 2014. Doreen was elevated to the peerage as a Baroness on 6 September 2013, and is formally styled Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica; the honour is rare for being designated after a location in a Commonwealth realm outside the United Kingdom. She sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords as a working peer. Doreen has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Cambridge, the Open University and the University of West London, and became Chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester in 2016. Doreen's autobiography ‘And still I rise - seeking justice for Stephen’ was published by Faber & Faber in 2006.
Rob Neil - Rob was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Years Honours List for ‘Services to Race Equality across the civil service and in the community’. Rob currently works at the Department for Education as Head of Embedding Culture Change.
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My Mother, Jamaica, Windrush and Me PROFESSOR SIR GEOFF (GODFREY) PALMER
ecently, there was an article in the Guardian newspaper about a “Windrush victim”. It reminded me of my dear late mother. The article said that it took 13 years for the victim to be recognised as a legal citizen. During this period, the victim’s mother had passed away in the Caribbean and with great sadness the victim said, “The worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life was that my mother passed away and I wasn’t with her. She worked in factories, she saved to bring me over. She taught me to read and write, when I was in trouble at school, she did everything for me. I haven’t been by her graveside.” In London, my mother also worked in factories and saved to bring me over. My mother, younger brother and me
My father was a shoemaker. He left us and went to America when I was about ten years old. My mother never saw him again. She took my younger brother and I to live with her grand-aunt (Auntie) and eight sisters in Allman Town, Kingston. She had difficulties earning a living as a dressmaker. In early November 1951, when I was eleven years old, about the age my mother left school, one of my aunts woke me and said, “Your mother is going to England, get up and see her get the ship…” We dismounted from Mr Green’s truck at Port Antonio. I remember waving to her as the ship sailed away. She waved back from the top deck of the ship which was loaded down with people and green bananas. Recent research by a friend, Marjorie Morgan, has informed me that my mother sailed on the Ariguani in 1951, not the Mauritania as I was told as a child. Her passenger status was British. I did not see my mother again until 1955. I was fourteen years and eleven months old. It took her four years to save my fare to ‘bring me over’. The fare was £86. I disembarked from the Ascania at Liverpool and took a train to Paddington. I wormed my way along a platform full of people until a ‘woman’ grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “I am your mother, come with me.” I would not have recognised her but when I looked into the mirror, we resembled each other. She took me home to a house in North London. Every room contained a family of at least two people. Marjorie’s research also shows that my mother had registered me on the passenger list of my ship as a Scholar. However, after arriving on the 2nd March 1955, my mother woke me early
My younger brother an d me
on the 3rd March and told me she had secured me a job working in a grocer’s shop which delivered lunches. My mother needed help with the rent. Her wages were less than £5 per week and the rent for her single room was about half this sum. As we were about to leave the house at about 7.45 am, a man stopped us and asked my mother where we were going, my mother said that we were going to work. The man said to my mother, “You can go to work but he cannot. He is not yet fifteen years of age... the school leaving age in this country is fifteen” My mother stated that she could keep me at home until I was fifteen years of age…
My mother and I at my Doctor of Science Graduation, Heriot Watt University, Scotland
my fifteenth birthday was on the 9th April 1955. My mother argued that one month should not keep me away from work but the man was adamant, “I don’t make the rules, he has to go to school.” My mother relented and took me to a local Comprehensive School. The school concluded that I was ESN (Educationally Sub-Normal) and sent me to Shelburne Road Secondary Modern School. The great irony was that, unknown to me, my mother had registered me on the ship’s passenger list as a “Scholar”. Inadvertently, her actions started my ‘scholarly career’ outside her front door on the 3rd March 1955. The Headmaster at Highbury Grammar School effected my transfer from Shelburne School to Highbury in September 1955. The Headmaster was interested in my cricketing skills. My mother was still keen on me working but agreed to the school transfer. She could not afford to pay for new uniforms and was pleased when Highbury Grammar offered her a few pounds. I shared my paper-round wages with her. She rented a larger room but after about two years the landlord give us notice to leave. We fought him in the magistrate’s court and won. We lived in the shadow of Pentonville Prison but not far from the Islington Library. I used the Library to keep warm and do my
homework. The landlord turned our kitchen into a room and rented it. He locked the bathroom and my mother and I had to travel to a friend’s house to have a bath on Sundays. She cooked in our room on a paraffin heater and lost a job because she missed work after an operation. She never took her annual holiday and worked during this holiday period to double her income with her ‘holiday pay’. I left Highbury Grammar in 1958, worked at Queen Elizabeth College as a technician
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and after a few rejections, I entered Leicester University in 1961. In 1964, when the only job I could find with an Honours degree in Botany was peeling potatoes in a nearby restaurant at Nags Head, my mother encouraged me to be patient. In December 1964 I was accepted for a PhD in Edinburgh, at the Heriot Watt University/Edinburgh University. I completed the PhD in 1967. My mother always knew where I was during my research-academic career…from 1968 to 2003, the year she passed
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away. She was the primary part of my sense of belonging. Although she never saw my father again after he left for America, when he died, she insisted that I should “go and bury him” in New York. I returned to the Heriot Watt University as a staff member in 1977. She used to ring the University and say, “Tell my son to call me, Miss Pennycook needs his advice”. Miss Pennycook was her Jamaican friend. Incidentally, there is a small town in Scotland called Penicuik…the old spelling was Pennycook! In passing, please note that this Scottish-Jamaican connection also extends to family names…for example, my mother’s surname was Larmond. The Scottish equivalent is Lamond. My cousin’s Scottish surname is Mowatt and another cousin was called, Gladstone Wood. Indeed, there are more Scottish Campbell surnames in the Jamaica telephone directory than are in the telephone directory of Edinburgh and surrounding areas. When I gained my Doctor of Science degree my mother came to Edinburgh and powdered my face ‘to remove the shine’ before the photographs were taken. Later when I told her that the University had awarded me a Professorial Chair…she replied jokingly, “You have enough chairs in the house, tell them to give you more money!” Although most people called me Geoff, she called me Godfrey which is my real name. However, she would have been delighted to call me, Honorary Consul for Jamaica in Scotland. Her religious view regarding my ‘achievements’ was simple, “My son is just a vehicle…” Family links were very important to my mother. She kept a notebook of the addresses of all members of the family. They called her Aunt Ivy. Friends called her, Miss Ivy. Grandchildren called her Nana or Grandma and I called her Mama. When she was very ill, I asked her to come to Scotland to live with me
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but she refused. She said that my brother needed her more. She was also aware that I had an interest in the history of British slavery in the West Indies. One day she told me that my middle name, Henry, came from our slavery ancestor whose only name was, Henry. Her father’s Christian name was Henry and she was pleased when I used my grain-research and teaching skills in Africa. On the 23rd August 2019, I was given the great honour by Glasgow University of unveiling a plaque in the Chapel of the University to British enslaved people. The marble plaque reads… “Near this site stood the house of Robert Bogle (d 1821). A wealthy West India merchant and owner of enslaved people. During the 18th and 19th centuries this University benefited from gifts made to individuals who had profited from slavery. This Plaque commemorates the lives of all those who suffered enslavement”. Although this ‘reparative justice’ will benefit Caribbean and African students, this plaque is symbolic of the hopes of our ancestors come true. Paul Bogle (Morant Bay Rebellion, 1865) is a National Hero of Jamaica…both white Robert Bogle and black Paul Bogle have historical links with St Thomas, Jamaica…this coming together of history is important. Therefore, the action of Glasgow University is a first light which others should follow to help repair the consequences of chattel slavery which was the most profitable evil the world has known. In the late 1990s my mother received a letter from the Home Office stating that if she did not apply to register, she would be deported. She threw the letter into the bin with disdain but I filled in the form and paid the fee. Like many of the ‘Windrush Generation’, she always treated
racism with disdain…neither Enoch Powell nor Oswald Mosley bothered her. My mother was aware of her Jamaican-British historical connections. She was also aware that she and her ancestors had contributed ‘twice’ to Britain significantly…during slavery and during the Windrush period. She was too ill to accompany me to Buckingham Palace to receive my OBE (Order of the British Empire) award in 2003. However, she said,“You go get it for us…we made the Empire, and remember, wear your marina (vest) because ‘them places’ can be cold.” Depending on how tired she was, she attended the church (black or white) that was closest to her home. She would sit reading her Bible. One day ladies from the local Greek Orthodox Church in Haringey asked me, “Is that dark lady your mother?” I nodded. They then asked, “Does she speak Greek?” I smiled and they smiled and said, “She is welcomed.” Before she sadly passed away in 2003, she said, smiling, “Make sure I am buried at home in Jamaica… it is too cold here.” If we had a disagreement she would jokingly say, “Give mi back, what you can’t give mi back, mi £86!” She would then smile and say, “You see what a little hard work and the goodness of people can do.” Indeed, it was her love and support, a little hard work and the goodness of people that turned a ‘grocery boy’ into a ‘Scholar’. Asense of belonging and education go together to help people to give their best to society. Some people say I was lucky but people’s lives should not be dependent on luck.To celebrate my mother’s life a plaque was placed in the George Square Garden of Edinburgh University. I often watch students and other people as they stand in front of my mother’s plaque and wonder why a mother called Mrs Ivy Georgina LarmondPalmer, at rest in Jamaica, would be associated with the view that, ‘People are not just ‘races’, named and ranked by man, people are people’. For a distance I can hear my dear mother saying, ‘my son wrote that for everybody’.
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BLACK WOMEN SHOULD BE SEEN AND HEARD
lack History Month is always an opportunity for reflection, a spotlight and a focus for year-round change. Black women have played a significant role in the legacy of activism and cultural contributions to life in the UK, and internationally. This year, Black History Month Leicester’s theme is Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future, recognising the history and heritage of the African and African Caribbean Diaspora that is largely left out of the history books and formal education. A history that is often whitewashed and missing the voices of women, especially Black women. Throughout the last year of research, Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future has uncovered some of the legacies that have shaped the cultural landscape of life in the UK, through the work of activists, educationalists, artists and pioneers. Their contributions will be given a profile through an exhibition taking place in October in Leicester, through a new documentary short A Very Brit(ish) Voice, and through the launch of a digital archive. Each will showcase stories of Black women who have been at the forefront of social change, that are deserving of wider recognition, whose contribution is often overlooked. Women of national and international importance will be acknowledged, such as Una Marson, who was a trailblazing Jamaican writer and activist, known for her work as secretary for The League of Coloured Peoples, a broadcaster for the BBC, and whose poetry encapsulated the lives of Black women in England during the mid-twentieth century. Una Marson was also the first Black woman to be invited to the League of Nations in Geneva in 1935, and returned in 1936 as secretary to Emperor
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Haile Selassie I when he made his historic address. Also included will be Claudia Jones, remembered as the founder of the West Indian Gazette and Notting Hill Carnival, which marked its sixtieth anniversary this year. She campaigned tirelessly for Black women’s rights, highlighting the triple oppression faced by Black women based on race, class and gender.
WE ARE CONSTANTLY SEEKING TO REDRESS THE BALANCE IN ENSURING THAT EVERYONE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE, THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THEIR VOICE HEARD.
Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future in particular reflects on how international and local events are entwined. In the 1950s and 1960s, Leicester’s De Montfort Hall played host to musical greats such as Sister Rosetta Tharp, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, using their talent to break racial barriers and evolve musical genres. As Black women literally taking centre-stage, it is not difficult to imagine the impact that their performances and music would have had. These legacies are also reflected in the stories and lives of women within our own
communities. Some of Leicester’s stories we have sought to capture in A Very Brit(ish) Voice, a new documentary short, commissioned by Serendipity, and directed by Jaha Browne. It is often the women in our own communities that can have the biggest influence on our lives, for instance Pearl Ricketts and Millie Munroe, sisters who made their home in Leicester whilst making music as the founder members of Eastern Variation. Then there was Elaine Hinds, who was Leicester’s first Black telegraphist, or local community activist and archivist, Nelista Cuffy, or artist, writer and singer Mellow Baku. There are many others too, deserving of mention: Elvy Morton, a founder member of Leicester’s Caribbean Carnival; writer, singer and director, Carol Leeming; S. Ama Wray, founder of JazzXchange dance company. Lives and stories that need to be documented and celebrated. We are constantly seeking to redress the balance in ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to have a seat at the table, the opportunity to have their voice heard. From the women in history books, through to the women in our local communities. Forbearers, that have empowered us to make a positive change now and in the future. Black History Month has its foundations in activism, we fought for it, and we continue to fight, and raise our voice. We also continue to listen, listen to those who paved the way for us, and document their legacies.
Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future Exhibition will take place from 1–31 October at the Vijay Patel Atrium Gallery, De Montfort University, Leicester, and online. A Very Brit(ish) Voice will be available as part of the exhibition, with an exclusive screening to take place as part of BHM Live on 17 October, Curve, Leicester. For more information, visit www.serendipity-uk.com.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Black Cultural Archives Who are we?
By Arike Oke CEO
Established in 1981 and situated in its iconic building in Brixton’s Windrush Square since 2014, Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is the only national repository of Black history and culture in the UK.
he power of an archives is how it relates to our identity and community, and how we understand our place in the world. We are the keepers of stories of activism, struggles and successes and we open them up to visitors so that they can choose their own path through them. It’s a unique collection which goes beyond documentary heritage and includes photos, objects, videos and oral histories from the world of Black British theatre, culture, dance and more. It includes objects like a rare Roman coin thought to be the earliest currency to feature a person of colour and artefacts from the early Black Power movement. We work with partners to create exhibitions that present the Black British experience and have a public reading room and library where materials from the archive can be viewed. BCA was founded over 30 years ago as our co-founder Len Garrison grappled with the fundamental question of “Where are our monuments? Where are our martyrs? …” His words continue to echo throughout the country today, as we are still asking these same questions in the face of institutions that are still unable to value our contributions and heritage. In the many years since BCA’s inception, our community has faced challenges, most recently the Windrush Scandal. When it was first discovered in 2018, we felt it was a shameful lack of appreciation of the courageous citizens who helped to create what we know as Britain today. The government’s hostile environment policy affected people from our community who have been living and working in Britain for over 70 years. It reflected the general lack of appreciation of the continued presence of the Black community in this country throughout history. This is not an immigration story, not a moment of migrant history, but is central to British -history, and a turning point in the then Empire. The history of Black people in Britain dates back centuries, yet this history has been long hidden. It is our duty to unearth and share these histories with everyone for a better and deeper appreciation of British identity, ultimately eradicating the injustices borne
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
of ignorance and lack of empathy. The “Windrush generation” travelled as individuals, later bringing their families to join them. The resilience and courage of the generations that followed have shaped today’s Black British community. The fact that citizenship questions are being raised decades later is highly problematic. BCA’s archive collection holds a copy of the 1948 Nationality Act which gave all colonial subjects British citizenship, as well as copies of subsequent Immigration Acts which attempted to remove that right. Our collection holds historical evidence of the oppositional campaigns to the racist 1962 Immigration Act, known as the Colour Bar Immigration Act, which expressly limited the movement of British citizens from its colonies. The destruction of the landing cards that provided evidence of the Windrush Generation’s arrival would not have happened had they been entrusted instead to BCA’s national collection. BCA exists to ensure the preservation of this history, our archive differs from national or government archives, as our remit is to preserve the narratives of the people. We have been entrusted by generations of individuals, families and organisations to safeguard these materials, our history, British history. We have been working with and alongside government and community initiatives to support the wider community to navigate
the current situation and help to overcome the distrust and distress that has arisen. Legal clinics were held at BCA and we became a central point of contact for the community and a safe space to ask critical questions and make enquiries. We continue to tell the story of Windrush with our forthcoming programme dedicated to the resilience, impact and legacy of the Windrush Generation. The programme will amplify the voices of those who lived through this case of modern-day history, and will acknowledge the ongoing contribution of all those that came after. Stories past and present will come to life, presenting visitors with the real voices of Windrush. We hope people from all communities will learn how Windrush came to be and the true stories of a people displaced, even though Britain should have been a home from home. This programme is for all communities who will uncover hidden dimensions to this familiar story. It is for all people to learn about the struggles and contributions of Black British Caribbeans - and beyond - during this time. BCA welcomes everyone who wishes to use it’s resources, share their stories and participate. More information can be found on our website https://blackculturalarchives.org/
BY LT COL TIM PETRANSKY
Bringing the British Army’s Black History to life
ritish History is multifaceted and fascinating. Much of its richness is overlooked because popular history and a constricted school curriculum are not sufficiently inclusive. Black History Month plays a key role, raising awareness of the contribution black people have made to our history. The British Army supports the aims of Black History Month and we want to use our position in society to play a role in making British history more inclusive. An important part of celebrating Black History is a re-examination of Britain’s Imperial past. Studying Britain’s reach into the world from the reign of Elizabeth I to the late 1960s is a liberating experience: British history then becomes a Commonwealth story as well. Casting the historical net too narrow strips away our multi-layered and challenging past dulling our understanding of the contemporary world. For instance, Professor Ashley Jackson argues British society’s failure to fully appreciate the role of the Commonwealth in the two World Wars and the wars’ impacts beyond Europe is because we view Britain as it is today, rather than in its historical role as the hub of an empire with global impact. What does this mean for Black History Month? Simply, black people have been playing a role in the formation and evolution of contemporary Britain since at least the reign of Elizabeth I.
Britain’s martial experience is no different. Caribbeans and Africans have been a widely documented part of Britain’s military since the American War of Independence. The frieze at the bottom of Nelson’s Column depicts a black sailor. For the Armed Forces he is a metaphor of the length, breadth and commitment of service to the Crown that men and women from Africa and the Caribbean have made. They have fought in all three services, served in the Merchant Navy and supported Britain economically in both World Wars. Four black men have been awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) (Britain’s highest military honour for bravery), the first in 1857 (William Hall) the most recent in 2004 (Johnson Beharry). 2004 brings us in to the modern era and more recently the Army has been proud to have in its ranks inspirational people of contemporary historical importance like, Nigel Benn, Kris Akabusi MBE, Dame Kelly Holmes DBE and Dean Ward. The Army wants to make the role of black people better understood in popular histories. As an example, 35,000 African troops in 3 African Divisions fought alongside Indian, Burmese, British and other Commonwealth troops in the 14th Army in India and Burma. They played an important role helping the 14th Army defeat the Japanese, something we should be explaining to our children as
the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day (Victory over Japan) approaches. The Army believes in team work and that those in the team who have contributed deserve recognition. Black History Month is team recognition on a national scale: we support it. The Army has begun an initiative called VC Day, to recognise the Caribbean and African contributions to the British Army. It is named in honour of the Jamaica Defence Forces’ celebration of Samuel Hodge VC and Sgt William Gordon VC. The stories of these two brave men are at the centre of our day, but it is a broader exposé of the Caribbean and African contributions. This initiative is the foundation on which to launch other projects including working with education to bring to life Black History to the next generation. There are many important academic studies on Black British History, but to connect to society we would be delighted to hear from people who have served in the Army or whose parents or grandparents served in the Army. We would like to connect these personal stories to the bigger picture giving everybody a voice. Please contact the author Lt Col Tim Petransky on timothy. firstname.lastname@example.org
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
By Nichola Hartwell
Ownership is important for others in the community to see. Ownership is tangible not least because ownership is also a legacy to pass down to the next generation to enable their financial security.
y Grandmother flew over from Jamaica to honour the Queens request for more key workers. Grandma was only too happy to oblige. British hospitality was for my Grandma to reside a tenement home. Coming from Jamaica a land where people owned and farmed their land, accepting such a home was not considered as appropriate. Especially with the toilet placed in the back garden outside of the home. Grandma rolled up her sleeves with the goal to buy a home and she meant business. Within 3 years Grandma bought the downstairs to a home she rented and ugraded to another house by the fifth year. To own a mortgage for a four story home in the area of Wandsworth by the seventh year. Our main family home that is now filled with history along with the pita patter of each Grandchild’s feet to their adult sized trainers and fashionable stilettos. Notwithstanding that the journey of home ownership in Britain for Black people was an easier achievement in the 60s & 70s. People had homes, just different kinds of homes mostly dependant of different incomes. Today the ownership of the home has been declining as future generations sell their legacy of ownership away instead of managing that ownership as a business. Today’s Black women business owners can be seen in Brixton battling to stay alive. Where people are no longer encouraged to have local businesses but are instead expected to survive in an elitist pursuit of vanity projects rather than vocational necessity businesses built to serve their community. Within an environment where the local authorities win from business rates either way, the competitive
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hostility is becoming increasingly unmanageable for most Black female business owners. Brixton Village boasts long serving and authentic Brixtonian residents who have set up businesses from 10 years ago to present and their legacy is in jeopardy due to rent inflation and the change of culture for more homogenised brands to reside in their village. Bella West who sells bespoke fur pieces as well as designers from Britain and all of Europe. In the beginning had a tumultuous time behind the counter where the onus was on the customer who would pass the store because of the colour of her skin. Therefore there became a need to place a person of European decent to garner sales in the shop. Five years later and it is mostly the tourists who keep Bella West alive.
Tourists who are inquisitive enough to search beyond the boarded up archway of Atlantic road that are likely to still look the same in 2022. Because the council have not yet developed business rates relief to bridge the gap between commercial and local businesses. Etta’s Seafood Kitchen is run by a very hard working, charismatic woman who has been
serving the freshest platters since 2009 has made her restaurant a beacon of hope. As everyone knows her history of using her last eighty pounds to sell Jamaican fritters with ‘The Brixton Business Initiative’ where she made a profit on her first day of one hundred and twenty pounds and never looked back since. Her approach to business has also been about family where she has supported others with meals when they themselves have no means to feed their children. A special restaurant business where the need for compassion for local people flourished because of the autonomy to do so and that loyalty has been embraced with a consistent flow of customers and friends for a decade. Excellence for their community is what people deserve. Although local authorities gain over twenty-four billion each year from business rates, it is locally owned businesses on the front line that introduce unseen talent to their communities. United 80 is a mini department store that brings creative wonder and artistic excitement within its space. Celebrating those artists who paint camouflage, draw, hand-sew and design clothing in unique splendour. To taking time to develop a gallery wall for artists like Sarina Mantle and Joy Miessi to rise! Unfortunately time is no longer on anyone’s side with Brexit looming over the horizon into an unknown future; local businesses are unable to plan ahead. It is hard to imagine a Brixton Village without these women and their businesses being present. Black Women who have a knowledgeable wisdom as well as a shared experience that deepens the environment they have worked so hard to belong…
Celebrating Black History Month. Find out about the inspiring journeys of young black Victorian children through the care system at http://bit.ly/BarnardosBHM
Barnardoâ€™s Registered Charity Nos. 216250 and SC037605
BY JIM GROVER
WINDRUSH: Portrait of a Generation
This October, Black History Month focuses on celebrating women. For this special issue, we put the spotlight on South Londoner Hermine Grocia as featured in Jim Grover’s acclaimed exhibition Windrush: Portrait of a Generation. Now on display for a long residency at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, the photo-story takes pride of place in the newly re-furbished state-of-the-art cultural complex’s Arnhem Foyer until January 2020. Hermine Grocia welcomed award-winning social documentary photographer Jim Grover into her house in April last year. Here is her story as told to Grover. Her portraiture and many of these photographs feature in the exhibition and document her everyday life with her wonderful family.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
ermine Grocia was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, in 1938, the second eldest of eight children. Her father was a farm labourer, her mother a seamstress. After her parents separated her father came to Huddersfield, where he initially worked in a textile factory, leaving Hermine with her mother in Jamaica. There are seven children within the family. Hermine gave birth to two children who she left with her mother in Jamaica; her future husband, Lester, also had a child in Jamaica. Hermine met Lester on the wharf in Kingston waiting to board the ‘SS Begona’ which brought them both to England in 1959. They married in 1960 in the Brixton registry office and had four children together. They lived happily together in Brixton until Lester passed away in 2011. They have nineteen grandchildren and twenty-two great-grandchildren. ‘My Dad sent for his younger children... my elder brother was already here and we were very very close…so I said OK. On the wharf in Kingston I met Lester who was on the same ship, the Begona. I was twenty going on twenty-one... he was twenty-four. We had two weeks together on the ship. I guess it was love at first sight...we were still together in 2011 when he died. I wasn’t excited to be coming to England... didn’t seem like a nice place to see... always chimneys and smoke. Huddersfield wasn’t such a nice place to be… it was very very cold in December when I arrived and the thread in the textile factory burnt my fingers... I didn’t like that. Four months later I was here in London with Lester, who had stopped in London. I was
told by somebody who wrote from Jamaica that my dad was upset that I’d left him… but he never told me. Lester had rented a room in a house near the Oval so that’s where we lived. I liked London. He was working in a plastic moulding factory... I started out working in a laundry by the Oval but changed jobs soon after. Did I experience racism back then? No… it was a long time before I realised being black was an issue. Once when I did home-help job I remember I went to this man’s place. I knocked on the door…he opened the door. He look at me…I look at him...and I said I was sent by Miss so and so. And he said,“Go away I don’t want no black people here”. So I just said, ‘Fair enough”, and just left him to go about my business. But I don’t remember anyone else who did that to me. Lester and me were married on December 10th 1960 in the Brixton Road registry office. Afterwards we went back to the house and we had a cake and something to drink... just with Lester’s friend, Mike, and the English landlady. Just us. My elder brother knew but my dad didn’t know anything about it. I bought my wedding dress... I don’t have it anymore... I made dresses for the girls out of it. We lived in two different places before coming here... Evandale Road in Brixton...in 1973 and we’ve never left. It’s a council house. Lester liked to stay put. Lester worked as a butcher at Dewhurst’s... he’d learned to be a butcher in Jamaica but was a special constable there. I was working as a home-help for Lambeth council... I went to work when the children were at school but always made sure I was here in the evenings. How hard was it bringing up a family? BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
It was hard in its own way. If you wanted something you had to prepare for it. So when the gasman came I would be able to get some rebates and the rebate would buy something for the children. Money was tight but there’s only so much you could do about it…you either do with what you haven’t got, or do with what you’ve got. I sewed dresses for the girls…and little trousers for the boys...and used to knit for them. I had a Singer sewing machine…still have it. I always say to them when you go to school you go to learn…listen to your teachers. At the same time we’d get on the floor in our home and we’d read to them…we play games… teach them the ABC… how to count up… all of those things. My husband wanted the kids to come straight home…didn’t want them to stop and
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chat. We’ve never had conflict with anybody. I told them to just say ‘hello’ to people on the streets… and don’t laugh at nobody. We used to go out but when we had children we didn’t go out. We wouldn’t leave the children on their own… unless in the daytime when I had to go to work. They could play in the garden…but not in the street. Lester was a good husband and father. He was too good. He doesn’t like taking risks. I would have liked him to take more risks… like buying a house. He didn’t believe in buying a house unless he had the cash. I wish he’d bought a house… I did tell him. They were selling council houses. He says he is not going to buy a house like that because Mrs Thatcher will run us out of our house… I said she can’t do that. So we didn’t buy the house.
He could do without friends. I told him life doesn’t work like that… you have to have friends… you cannot be alone like that…you need friends. His view was that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was that kind of person. He caused no trouble…he don’t interfere with nobody… he went about his own business… he go out and he come back. He didn’t stay out late...he’d look at his watch and come home... he was like that. I’m different... I’d go out seven days a week if I could… I love going out. We had to be careful with our money. It was hard but no one would know unless I tell them. But I coped…I didn’t beg from people… I didn’t borrow… I don’t like that. I love my church very much. Every Sunday I’m there in St John the Divine which is CoE... always have been. Two of my children went to St John the Divine…two went to a Methodist church. Lester was a Methodist. In 1976 I had a stroke…I was thirty-eight... I had to have rehabilitation. I spent three years without working…no money coming in…and then I went back to work. I worked for fifteen years… including catering at Credit Suisse in the City in the eighties, firstly in Shoreditch and then in Canary Wharf. Then they laid off everybody so I worked with a friend around Victoria. I could still walk not too bad... so I used to enjoy myself! We call ourselves a family of seven. I have two children from Jamaica from two different relationships when I was a sixteen and seventeen... it’s not that uncommon in Jamaica. I left them with my mother but they came over later... Peggy when she was eight or nine... and Roy when he was sixteen. If you see them all together you’ll never know they are not all the same family... they are all brothers and sisters together. Lester’s daughter couldn’t come because the time had passed when you could bring family here… so she just came on
holidays, stayed with us for a while, and then went back home. After a while she found enough money to go to America. Her dad wanted her here but her mother didn’t want her to come here.’ Every Friday evening is ‘open house’ in Hermine’s Brixton home when family of all generations come to catch up, chat, share food and just enjoy being together. Twenty members from four generations came along to join Hermine (including five of her children), ranging in age from two months to eighty years. Hermine had started preparing traditional Jamaican food the day before but everyone brought something to share. The leftovers were taken home in plastic containers. Five of the younger children crowded around a scrabble board on the floor in the hall; one of the granddaughters did Hermine’s hair. Most of the time the family relaxed in armchairs and sofas running down the two
walls of the small downstairs front room, or squeezed into the compact kitchen. ‘It’s quite common amongst West Indian families. Grandparents do things different… if they see someone on the street they’ll call out and say, “Come and have something to eat”… there’d always be something to eat. I have been having Friday evenings for family as long as I can remember... they just drop in. It starts anytime after seven and sometimes finishes as late as two or three in the morning. Twenty people passing through is common… sometimes more. Some come every week. When they were younger they knew they could come and get something to eat and there’d be nothing to worry about. Now when they come in they’ll say, “Are you all right mummy...or granny?”, but the first place they’ll go to is the kitchen…! They’ll just find some space. The children may end up playing on the floor in the hall, like they did on Friday. Sometimes the grandchildren sleep over and take over the upstairs. And we adopt other family...maybe ninety-five percent are blood-related... but there may also be a sibling of a nephew or niece. We just adopt them too...nobody needs to know...they’re just family. It’s just how we are...very humble. Friends come sometimes and are always welcome. Sometimes they’ll dance... they roll up the carpet and put it behind the settee and then anything can happen. Sometimes they dance outside. I used to dance but no more because I can’t move properly. Sometimes they play a board game or have a quiz... like filling in missing words in hymns. I am happy to sit in my chair and watch it all happen. Mostly we just sit and chat. It can get as big as it wants…some of the family come every Friday. It’s become a tradition. Just after Lester passed we left the chair where he always sat so that he was here in spirit.
When the children were younger Friday was Lester’s night for going out and he’d always come back with fish and chips …or shrimps… a bottle of rum or stout… or a box of weekend chocolates. So the children would wait up for him… eat fish and chips with him...always on a Friday. Maybe it stemmed from that… Friday was a special day… the family got together. I just sit back and listen and watch in my chair in the corner…they’ll all ask if there is anything I want. Where I sit I can see and hear everything…it’s a pleasant feeling. Some families do it but not everybody. When friends come they are always overwhelmed and say they wish their family was like this… for us it’s completely natural.’ Hermine looks back on her 60 years. ‘I’ve enjoyed life. Living in Brixton has been very good…very good. I have no arguments about it. I could do the things I wanted to do and I’ve been travelling… to Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Hawaii, US, Jamaica, Corfu, Ireland...travelling with a friend as Lester didn’t want to go to places. I’ve always said I can die now because I’ve been to all these places. Anything I’d change? I doubt it. I live life day by day… that’s me…there’s nothing I can do about it… I’m very, very easy going.’ Windrush: Portrait of a Generation 19 Sept 2019 to Jan 2020 Monday-Sunday, 10am-11pm Fairfield Halls, Arnhem Foyer Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG Tel: 0203 292 0001 https://www.fairfield.co.uk/whats-on/ windrush-portrait-of-a-generation/ ADMISSION IS FREE!
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
BLACK BRITISH FEMALE AUTHORS YOU SHOULD READ
Award-winning author of seven books and other works that span genres of fiction, essays, and theatre drama, Bernardine is a creative powerhouse. Her latest novel, Mr Loverman, is about a 74-year-old Caribbean London man who is closet homosexual. Even The Guardian writes, “If you don’t yet know her work, you should – she says things about modern Britain that no one else does.” If you’re lucky enough to be a student at London’s Brunel University, be sure to take her Creative Writing class.
Dorothy Koomson holds two degrees in Journalism and Psychology from Leeds University and wrote her first [unpublished] novel, There’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate, at just 13 years old. Her second novel, The Chocolate Run, published in 2004, is a fun story about Amber Salpone whose life motto is: who needs love when you’ve got chocolate? Koomson writes with sass and wit; she’s an excellent author to check out.
Patrice Lawrence is a British writer and journalist, who has published fiction both for adults and children. Published in 2016, Orangeboy won The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize 2017, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Older Children 2017, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award. Her follow-up book, Indigo Donut (2017), was described by Alex O’Connell in The Times as “addictive”, having “many of the themes of a Jacqueline Wilson novel: bullying, fostering, teenage relationships.”
Dreda Say Mitchell
Born in Scotland, Aminatta Forna is an award-winning author who has spent time living in Sierra Leone, Iran, Zambia and Thailand. Her memoir, The Devil that Danced on the Water, is about her dissident father and received wide acclaim as it was chosen for the “Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers” series. Her novel, The Memory of Love, was shortlisted for The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2011. Her writing is strong and her stories are filled with rich, colorful characters dealing with real struggles. Not just an author, Forna has a passion for serving others and she established the Rogbonko Project back in 2003 to build a school in a Sierra Leone village.
Born in Nigeria and raised in England, Irenosen Okojie studied Communications and Visual Culture at London Metropolitan University. Author of Butterfly Fish, Okojie explores themes of hope, love and loss in a story about a woman exploring her African heritage. Okojie’s short stories have been published internationally and she was a selected writer by Theatre Royal Stratford East and Writer in Residence for TEDx East End. Okojie voices concern over the lack of diversity in Britain’s literary community and she uses her platform to champion the voices of all writers, no matter race or gender.
Born and raised in London’s East End, Dreda Say Mitchell is not only a novelist but a broadcaster, motivational speaker and freelance education consultant. Mitchell was the first black British writer to be awarded the Crime Writers Association’s John Creasey Dagger for her debut book entitled Running Hot. Her latest book, Death Trap, is about a young girl who has five days to stay alive after seeing her family murdered. If you’re a fan of book series and sequels, check out Mitchell’s “Gangland Girl” series as well as her Blood Sister/Mother/ Daughter series. Original and vivid, her thrilling books are actionpacked and gripping.
“I grew up assuming it was me against the world,” Precious Williams wrote in a 2010 article for The Guardian. Williams grew up black in a white community where she struggled to find her identity. Her first book, a memoir titled Precious: A True Story, has been described as “hauntingly beautiful,”“brilliant,” and “poetic.” Her writing is starkly candid as she takes readers on her journey as she was“plunged into white culture like a screaming lobster being dropped into a boiling pot.” If you’ve ever felt like an outsider and unsure of where you fit in, Williams is an author not to be missed. Her words are indeed as precious as her name and she can serve as an inspiration to all.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Malorie Blackman is a British writer who held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. Originally from the Clapham district in London, Blackman describes herself simply: “I’m just Malorie Blackman, a black woman writer.” She primarily writes literature and television drama for children and young adults. She has used science fiction to explore social and ethical issues. Her critically and popularly acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series uses the setting of a fictional dystopia to explore racism.
Hannah Pool is a writer to take note of. Former Staff Writer at The Guardian, Pool was born in the East-African country of Eritrea and adopted by a British scholar at the age of six months. Published in 2005, her memoir, My Fathers’ Daughter, is an account of the journey she made back to Eritrea at 29 years old to meet with relatives she never knew she had; including her father whom she thought was dead. With wisdom, wit and warmth, Pool takes the reader on a journey that would forever change her.
Award-winning writer and journalist, Diana Evans was born in London and earned her MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Her first criticallyacclaimed novel, 26a, is about identical twin sisters who must deal with their alcoholic English father and quirky Nigerian mother. They forge a way to find their dreams and escape to a world of their own making. Evans’ words are captivating and inspiring; her novels are must-reads.
Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet who was raised by her grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She is known for her debut book, Bone, as well as for her spokenword poetry, and for being an “Instagram poet”. Her memoir, The Terrible, was published in 2018,and in 2019 won the PEN/ Ackerley Prize
Oona King is actually a member of the House of Lords who happens to also be a published author. King is from Sheffield, UK and is an inspiration to women all around the world. House Music: The Oona King Diaries is a political diary of her time in the House of Commons and was published in 2007. This memoir is not just for those interested in politics, but for anyone who can relate to the struggles of juggling the work-life balance. King is also very outspoken about her battle with endometriosis and her political background has given her the platform to continually inform and inspire others.
Born in north-west London, Zadie Smith may be one of the most well-known black British authors today. With close to 50,000 ‘likes’ on her Facebook page, she is a literary powerhouse and rightfully so. Her first novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000 (when Smith was just 24) and won multiple honors including a spot on Time’s “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. The novel was even adapted for a four-part television series in 2002. With themes of immigration, race and fundamentalism, Smith draws readers in and doesn’t disappoint.
British poet and performer, Patience Agbabi is known for her work’s contemporary themes of race, sex and gender identity. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Agbabi later studied English Language and Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. Her first collection of poetry, R.A.W, was published in 1995 and received the Excelle Literary Award in 1997. The Poetry Society announced in March 2015 that Agbabi was one of five poets shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, for her most recent book, Telling Tales. Agbabi’s work is gripping and she is an inspiration to many.
Oxford educated and raised in London, Nadifa Mohamed was born in Somalia to a sailor and landlady. She based her awardwinning first novel, Black Mamba Boy, off of her father’s stories and journeys through the 1930s and 40s. Her most recent novel published in 2013, The Orchard of Lost Souls, is set in 1980s Somalia on the eve of the civil war; a very personal situation to Mohamed as the civil war is the reason her family remained in the UK rather than returning to Somalia. The New York Times notes that in both of her novels Mohamed “shows how the echo of war reverberates down the generations, and why every nation needs its storytellers.” BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
BLACK WOMEN WHO HAVE INSPIRED BRITAIN We’re inspired by bold women every day: the women in our families, on our team and in our circles of friends; the women in our history books and those in the news; the women of our past and the women of now; and the inspiring women who’ve paved the way for future generations. Black history Month looks at just a few Inspiring women.
DIANE ABBOTT MP
In 1987 Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament. From the outset of her career, Diane has championed global justice, human rights, peace and security issues at home and abroad. She has been a vocal campaigner around race-relations, transparency and justice around policing, surveillance, Stop and Search, and detainment without trial, as well as a key advocate of proportional representation.
MOIRA STUART OBE
DAME SHIRLEY BASSEY Born in January 1937 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales, Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, DBE whose career began in the mid-1950s, best known both for her powerful voice and for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979). In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single. In 2000, Bassey was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the performing arts. Bassey is considered one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the second half of the 20th century.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Moira Stuart became Britain’s first black TV newsreader, working for the BBC first as a radio newsreader and continuity announcer in the 1970s and moving to television in 1981. In a career that spans four decades, she has presented many television news and radio programmes for the BBC and was the newsreader for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to News Broadcasting.
Baroness Lawrence OBE is the founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which promotes a positive community legacy in her son’s name. Baroness Lawrence was raised to the peerage as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica in 2013. She serves on the Joint Committee on Human Rights in Parliament and is currently serves as Chancellor of De Montfort University, Leicester.
BETTY CAMPBELL MBE (1934-2017)
BARONESS DOREEN LAWRENCE OBE
Betty Campbell MBE was a community activist and Wales' first black head teacher. Born into a poor household in Butetown, she won a scholarship to the Lady Margaret High School for Girls in Cardiff. She later took the opportunity to train as a teacher and in due course become head teacher of Mount Stuart Primary School in Butetown. She put into practice innovative ideas on the education of children and was actively involved in the community.
We are the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognized national statistical institute. We are responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels. We also conduct the census in England and Wales every 10 years. We are at the leading edge of Data Science and are developing a Data Campus at our Newport site. We know that excellent results can only be achieved by investing in and retaining the people who work for us. This is why our people count in more ways than one. Ensuring fairness and inclusivity for all is at the heart of our organization. Our role in this is twofold: firstly as an employer that values and celebrates the diversity of our people, and secondly, by helping to inform decisions that affect diverse communities. Inclusion is a priority for the ONS. As part of the UK Civil Service, we have an ambition to be the UK’s most inclusive employer. The Civil Service as a whole is now more diverse than at any time in its history. Evidence shows that diversity – of background, of life experience - brings different insights, creates challenge and encourages change and innovation. For the benefits of diversity to be felt, we must create an environment where differences of thought and outlook are not only respected but expected. We want all our colleagues to feel they can be themselves at work, valued for the distinct perspective they bring, and able to go as far as their talents will take them. Feeling included is good for us as individuals, teams, and for the people and communities we serve. At ONS, we strive to create a welcoming culture where everyone is inclusive by instinct. We are committed to making sure that our people are able to meet their potential. But wider than this we believe and celebrate that everyone is unique, and all of us have something to bring to the table.
To find out more about who we are and what we do visit www.ons.gov.uk BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
MARY SEACOLE (1805-1881)
During her lifetime, Seacole's profile rivalled that of Florence Nightingale. Born to a free black woman, Seacole's position in Jamaican society did not protect her from the racism experienced by black people at that time. Seacole’s mother was a healer who gave her daughter a rich education in Caribbean and African medicine. When the Crimean War began, Seacole applied to the British War Office to assist but was refused. Independently she set up the British Hotel near Balaclava to care for the wounded. She became a much-loved figure, with a reputation to match Florence Nightingale. She returned destitute, but a benefit arranged by Queen Victoria’s nephew raised funds for her. She lived in London until her death. Mary was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the Greatest Black Briton.
VALERIE AMOS, BARONESS AMOS
Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, CH, PC is a British Labour Party politician and diplomat who served as the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Before her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a life peer in 1997, becoming Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. When Amos was appointed Secretary of State for International Development on 12 May 2003, she became the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet. In 2010 she was appointed to the role of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. In 2019, it was announced that Amos will become the first-ever black head of an Oxford college.
UNA MARSON (1905 –1965) Una Maud Victoria Marson was a Jamaican feminist, activist and writer, producing poems, plays and radio programmes. She travelled to London in 1932 and became the first black woman to be employed by the BBC during World War II. In 1942 she became producer of the programme Calling the West Indies, turning it into Caribbean Voices, which became an important forum for Caribbean literary work.
NAOMI CAMPBELL Campbell was born in Streatham, South London, recruited at the age of 15, Naomi Campbell established herself amongst the most recognisable and in-demand models of the late 1980s and the 1990s and was one of six models of her generation declared supermodels by the fashion industry and the international press.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
DR MAGGIE ADERIN-POCOCK MBE Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock MBE is a British space scientist and science educator. She studied at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc in physics in 1990 and completed her PhD in mechanical engineering in 1994. She has spent her career to date making novel, bespoke instrumentation in both the industrial and academic environments. These have ranged from hand held land mine detectors to optical sub-systems for the James Webb Space Telescope. Until recently Aderin-Pocock worked at Astrium Ltd in Portsmouth where she led the optical instrumentation group. Whilst there she managed a range of projects which included making satellite sub-systems to measure wind speeds in the Earth’s atmosphere. This system was designed to improve our current knowledge of climate change. In 2009 Aderin-Pocock was awarded an MBE for services to science and education.
REV ROSE HUDSON-WILKIN
Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin was born and grew up in Montego Bay. She was ordained deacon in 1991 and priest in 1994. For 16 and a half years she served as a priest in Hackney. In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the 79th (and first female) Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. She leads the prayers in the House of Commons daily and has pastoral care of members and staff of the Palace of Westminster. She has been appointed as the next Bishop of Dover, making her the Church of England's first black female bishop when she takes up the position in November.
Malorie Blackman OBE is a British writer who held the position of Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She primarily writes literature and television drama for children and young adults. She has used science fiction to explore social and ethical issues. Her critically and popularly acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series uses the setting of a fictional dystopia to explore racism.
OLIVE MORRIS (1952-1979) Olive Morris featured on the Brixton pound - a local currency launched in 2009. Morris was a prominent civil rights activist, spearheading antiracist activism in South London and Manchester. Although she died of cancer aged just 27, she made significant contributions to black communities across the country. A member of Brixton’s Black Panther movement, Morris co-founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and the Brixton Black Women's Group. She left school without qualifications, yet won a place to study at Manchester University and helped establish Black Women's Mutual Aid and the Manchester Black Women's Co-op.
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Vula has wowed huge audiences at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring as a lead vocalist with The Heritage Orchestra, as a featured vocalist for the Quincy Jones Prom. She has an impressive singing career, as one of the premier backing vocalists both in the UK and in the States, performing with Sam Smith, Clean Bandit, Lalah Hathaway, Sam Sparro and other major artists.
MARSHA DE CORDOVA
BAKITA:KK is a poet, writer and researcher. She has performed her poetry and delivered talks internationally. Through her poetry, Bakita explores the tensions between stereotypes and identities, as well as self-empowerment. She uses her creativity as a tool for HIV advocacy.
Marsha Chantol de Cordova is a British Labour Party politician who was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Battersea at the 2017 general election. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People De Cordova has nystagmus and is registered blind. Most recently, de Cordova worked at leading sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust where she was the Director of Engagement and Advocacy. She was previously the Chief Executive Officer for the charity South East London Vision and before that worked for Action for Blind People.
ANGIE LE MAR
As one of Britainâ€™s top comediennes, Angie has successfully harnessed the power of laughter to create inspiring and thought provoking productions. From stage to radio to TV to the written page Angie is a proven hit with a multicultural audience â€“ male, female, young and old alike. She is equally at home with quick-fire comedy, acutely observed character sketches and solid acting performances.
Chinyelu Onwurah is a British Labour Party politician, who was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. She is Newcastle's first black MP. She is currently Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation. Before entering Parliament, Onwurah was active in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. She spent many years on its National Executive, and that of its successor organisation, ACTSA: Action for Southern Africa.
Sharon White is a senior British civil servant. She had a variety of roles in the British civil service, and was Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury from 2013 to 2015. She has been the Chief Executive of the British media regulator Ofcom since March 2015. She was the first black person, and the second woman, to become a Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. On 6 June 2019, White was announced as the next, and sixth, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.
TAPONESWA MAVUNGA Taponeswa is hugely influential in the Afrobeats movement and its rise in the UK. She’s known for championing her artists and supporting new, young creatives into the industry both at Columbia and externally. Taponeswa has headed up publicity campaigns for the likes of Missy Elliot, Toni Braxton, Jay Z and Ed Sheeran. She’s a vocal supporter for African music talent, having previously run Talent & Music at Viacom Africa, and works to help acts get international airplay.
A Unicorn Production
18 SEP – 27 OCT
NAZ is a sexual health charity run by and for BAME people. We offer free testing, counselling and advocacy to BAME communities, services include:
THE GREATEST TALES EVER SPUN FOR AGES 3 – 7.
A brand new show created and directed by Justin Audibert
• HIV testing and support services for people living with HIV • Counselling - available in 7 languages • LGBTQI support groups • Testing Faith for Black majority Churches and Mosques
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT 0208 741 1879 OR VISIT OUR WEBSITE
www.naz.org.uk BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
he History Press has published a second edition of Stephen Bourne's acclaimed and award-winning Black Poppies - Britain's Black Community and the Great War (£12.99) with new life stories and previously unpublished photographs. In this update of his best-selling study of the black presence in Britain during the First World War, Bourne illuminates yet more stories of servicemen of African heritage. The accounts of black servicemen fighting for their ‘Mother Country’ are charted from the outbreak of war in 1914 to the conflict’s aftermath in 1919, when black communities up and down Great Britain were faced with the anti-black ‘race riots’ in spite of their dedicated service to their country at home and abroad. Painstaking research has led to Bourne’s discovery of what he believes to be the first image of a black nurse in Britain during the First World War. Though unidentified, she was photographed with a group of Red Cross nurses in a soldier’s convalescent home in Britain in 1915. He has also been given access to the personal wartime correspondence of the middle-class Jamaican siblings Vera, Norman and Douglas Manley. These bring to light the day to day trials, tribulations, tragedies
BLACK POPPIES B Y STE P H E N BO U R N E
Left: Arthur Roberts (Scotland's Black Tommy) Main: Metropolian Police officer Above: Mabel Mercer Top Right: Dickie Barr Bottom Right: Esther (Stephen Bourne's Aunt) and Joseph Bruce
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and triumphs of life on the battlefields. The brothers were studying at university in Britain when war was declared and they both quit and joined up. Sadly, Douglas did not survive. He was killed in action in 1917. Vera was a music teacher in Britain and, in 1917, she was teaching and studying music in Russia. Vera’s letters include a detailed eyewitness account of the Russian revolution. The additional stories also include servicemen like Arthur Roberts, known as ‘Scotland’s Black Tommy’; Jamaica’s David Clemetson, who rose through the ranks; Dickie Barr, a Cornishman who joined the Navy; and Trinidad’s George A. Roberts, who served in the Middlesex Regiment. After the war George campaigned with the British Legion for better treatment of all ex-servicemen. These sit alongside the experiences of
people of African descent on the home front and include women composers, stars of the stage like Cassie Walmer and Olive Campbell, a black child raised in Wigan. Bourne has devoted a whole chapter to the legendary cabaret star Mabel Mercer. She came from humble beginnings in Staffordshire, trod the boards throughout the First World War in music halls, and in the 1940s established herself in New York as Americaâ€™s most influential cabaret artiste, a position she held until the 1980s. Frank Sinatra said she taught him everything he knew about a lyric! Bourne says that black women in Britain who had access to education and were active in their communities usually came from the middle-classes. In August 1914, just before the out-break of the First World War, the Trinidadian teacher Audrey Jeffers arrived in
Britain to study social science at Alexander College in North Finchley, London. During the war, Audrey became involved with and served among the West African troops. She put her organisational skills to good use by forming a West African soldiersâ€™ fund, collecting financial contributions from fellow West Indians in London. Informative and accessible, Bourne hopes that this new version of Black Poppies will shed more light on a little-known period in British history. He also wants to see the book used more widely in our primary schools and academies to offset the dominance of African American history in the curriculum. Bourne is concerned that young people are still more likely to learn about Dr Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks than the men and women in Black Poppies. BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
Queens of Sheba An interview with director Jessica Kaliisa
Queens of Sheba tells the hilarious, moving and uplifting stories of four passionate Black Women battling everyday misogynoir – where sexism meets racism. Written by Jessica L. Hagan and presented by creative movement Nouveau Riché and Omnibus Theatre. Following widespread critical acclaim and sold out audiences both at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 and in London, the play will be going on a 10 venue national tour this autumn from 26 September to 29 November 2019. Here, BHM catch up with director Jessica Kaliisa to hear more about this powerful and inspirational production. How did you become involved in Queens of Sheba? My journey with Queens of Sheba started from its inception after seeing one of Nouveau Riche’s earlier plays Timbuktu that looks at the lives of four black men. I approached Ryan – the writer and also the artistic director of Nouveau Riché with my dissertation material on Misogynoir – the term for the racism and sexism that women face simultaneously – and he agreed that a play should be formed for Black Women. We held focus groups with black women who gave us their raw and authentic experiences and writer Jessica Hagan wrote Queens of Sheba from it. What did you learn from the focus groups? That there is solidarity amongst us as black women and that our experiences unite us more than we think. The amount of women who’d had the same experiences was overwhelming; that we’d all had our hair touched by some stranger without permission, that we all feel compelled to censor ourselves at work, that’d we’d all been labelled aggressive at some point in our lives were
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just a few of the sad unanimous truths that every woman in the focus group had experienced. What I also found beautiful were the differences. That those who were of a darker complexion faced a different type of racism those who were fairer. Those who were physically bigger faced a different type of sexism to those who were physically smaller. Those who had kinkier hair faced different struggles to those who had a looser curl pattern. So I truly learnt that Misogynoir is a wide spectrum and that the we need to create something that honoured it all. What does Queens Of Sheba mean to you? Queens of Sheba is my safe space because it perfectly articulates the experiences and internal paranoia that I’ve failed to articulate for so long and gives me the confidence to know that it’ happens to all of us and we can find solidarity in this play. It tells a beautiful tone of sisterhood which we as black sisters need so much of to support one another and that’s why Queens of Sheba is so important to me and if black woman walk out of their feeling confident enough to know they are not and never were alone then I believe I’ve done my job.
Were you surprised by the play’s success at Edinburgh Fringe last year? Yes and no. No because where ever we’d taken Queen of Sheba it had been a success. I’ve watched the play no less than 50 times now and it still makes me laugh tears of joy and cry tears of pain and relief. The play is so hilarious and incredibly written that it’s impossible to not at least acknowledge that is a fantastic play. What did surprise me at Edinburgh is the reception because Queens is so unapologetic. It makes anyone who is not a black women feel the pain, the guilt and the truth about how they make black women feel unintentionally or otherwise, and that makes people feel uncomfortable. I didn’t think that demographic of the Edinburgh Fringe would be so keen to have a mirror held up to them. But they were. And they loved it. And they thanked us for it. What was it that inspired you to get on board as director? Considering that I’d been involved with Queens from the beginning, it only felt natural for me to jump onboard as a director to continue to negate the process.
Solid Lines A poem for Black History Month by Ayesha Williams
You haven’t come from a traditional directing route, explain? No I am and have been a professional actress for about 10 years so this Queens is my directorial debut. My background in acting is what gives me the skills to direct. What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing this play? Change. It’s a big ask. But anyone who has a prejudiced mind against black women I want them to walk away with it changed. And for them to implement that change through life. And for them to change others mind sets because theirs has been changed until we get to a place where Queen’s is no longer relevant. Like I said, it’s a big ask and Queens is small ripple in a big ocean. Queens’ mission is just to show you who we really are – but I’d hope that the effect of that is change. And I’d like black women to walk away feeling uplifted, represented and understood. This play embraces sisterhood, what does the term sisterhood mean to you? I was asked this question a couple of days ago and if I think sisterhood and friendship are the same thing. I don’t, simply because I have friends who I wouldn’t call sisters and sisters who I wouldn’t call friends but then I have those who are both. Sisterhood to me means family. It means we’re connected from the same source because we were birthed the same birth and no matter what happens between us personally, whether we fight or whether we are friends or not, we’re still connected somehow by the same blood. I can meet another black woman on the other side of the world and call her sister and she will call me sister back because she knows exactly what I mean – we both come from the same place. And I think it’s something that we should continue to implement in the black community, because the world has tried to play us against each other for so long but we can stand against it in unity.
Why are the youth of today intent on taking lives? Such scars left behind, both inside and out, The acid, the guns, the knives. What makes them think that they can take what belongs to me? My essence, my spirit and what could have been? For the credit, the clout, the ‘P’ I get it, it’s family, belonging and fear, You’ve been alone and it’s tough in the cold. But if your parents, grandparents, the Windrush’d could see The pain would bring them to tears. Spare a thought for the woman who birthed you, Who struggled and toiled through the night, Fought injustice- socio-economical To give you her all as you grew. I’m not here to preach but to listen Because I fear for the youth of today. I fear for the choices you’re making And the dangerous paths that you take. Do you think of your victims as people? The loved ones that get left behind? Did you know he was prepping for GCSEs As he lives now under that steeple? Think of the choices you’re making. Think hard, can’t you see all pain? The devastation, the heartache, the never ending grief The defeat that greets upon waking. Now’s the time to see who you are, To re-evaluate all that you’re made of. You were a person with dreams and, before it’s too late, I pray you return from afar.
Queens of Sheba will run from 26 September – 29 November For booking details for all the venues please go to: www.omnibus-clapham.org/ queens-of-sheba-on-tour
A languages teacher born and bred in London, Ayesha has written a number of poems exploring human emotions and interactions. As an avid traveller she has been lucky enough to experience cultural diversity and interchanges in places as far flung as Japan and Hawaii. Through her work she aims to inspire discussion and raise awareness of the highs and lows of our existence by addressing hard hitting topics with a fresh outlook.
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hen I was younger, I was led to believe that as a person of colour, everything I did had to be done better than the average white kid on our estate. I had to represent a continent. I had to prove that ‘we’ were worthy of being called British. That is a lot of pressure on a youngster who had no knowledge of how she arrived in Manchester in a family that didn’t look like her, attending a school that labelled her and a church that informed her of the stain on her soul due to her origins. So, when I’m asked what encouraged me to write, my answer is that in order to make sense of my world, I read. Everything I could put my hands on. Stories that transported me to a world where I could be the cool kid who went on adventures and helped solve mysteries. Reading led to daydreaming and from there a natural progression into story telling. What I didn’t know then is that I lived at intersections of class, race and gender and my non-belonging was a natural product of the family and the society I had been born into. Forward several years, and an eventual higher education and I was finally able to voice myself. To write myself into understanding and being. The first novel I wrote, Bloody’s in the Bible, a bildungsroman that has yet to see the light of day but was longlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize in 2014, shied away from dealing with the untidiness of life and encouraged a rosy outlook for the reluctant heroine. My debut novel, A House With No Angels, published in May 2019 by Crocus, plunges into the messy innards of the lives of an immigrant mother, a mixed race daughter and a black British teen. I like all the characters in their dysfunctional dealings. I like that I didn’t attempt to clean them up to make them acceptable and ‘better than’. I like that they each find a resolution in their own way by facing their truths. Written against a backdrop of the 5th Pan African Congress that took place in Manchester in 1945, the Black Power Movement of the 70s and the current immigration issues in the UK, each character explores their personal politics of being, longing and belonging. I didn’t know this was the story I was going to tell. I first met my father in 1996 in Nigeria. He told me about arriving in Cardiff in 1950 and then moving to Manchester to complete his Masters in Civil Engineering. He said the communists sent him. I began my research looking for links between communism and Nigeria and Manchester and the story grew from there. I found information in the Labour Archives about the Pan African Congress in 1945 and many of the photographs had African/
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Caribbean men and white women. It made me curious as to why there were no African women in the pictures. I decided to insert them into the Congress and into life in Manchester from the 1940s onwards. I wanted to tell a human story. A glimpse into ordinary lives of women who work, struggle, politicise, mother, love and lose. I decided that telling individual stories of connected women would provide a platform for exploring intergenerational conflict, the effects of politics on women particularly, black or mixed women, and the way second and third generations negotiate the space that they occupy in Britain, personally and politically. By telling the stories of their hopes and desires and presenting their flaws, I hope that these little stories are ways of giving the bigger picture to a wider audience. Being of mixed race and being raised with the influence of just one of those cultural spaces and not having access to the other, is an all too familiar happening in Britain. In No Angels, I make reference to babies born during the second world war who were put into care, hidden away – think Delaney’s A Taste of Honey – and the problems attached to having a child of mixed heritage. My studies referenced the Tragic Mulatto, the mixed-race person who is sad or suicidal because they do not fit into either black or white society. I decided that Elizabeth, my mixed-race protagonist, was not going
To know that our young people today can find themselves in the pages of books in the mainstream is really encouraging. The days of us being misrepresented are not over, but they are being countered in positive, unapologetic ways.
to entertain that trope, but would produce her own issues around mental health, sexuality, secrets and family. Issues that are endemic to a society that is segregated by class first and everything else afterwards and causes confusion. This novel was made possible because of the writers who came before me. I remember reading Small Island by Andrea Levy and the impact it had on me, though originally not in a positive way. As an unwritten, unpublished, aspiring writer of no repute, I decided that this novel was lacking in so many ways. The voices. They didn’t seem quite right to me. I couldn’t quite place them or vouch for their authenticity. Not that anybody had asked my opinion, but studying literature gives you that all-consuming belief that you know so much more than the writer or the characters. And then I began to write No Angels for my PhD and I knew that I had been so wrong about Small Island. I wish I had had the opportunity to sit down with Levy and thank her. Doris Lessing, Buchi Emecheta, Meera Syal, Arundhati Roy, Diana Evans, Zadie Smith. All of these women had an impact on me and my writing. There are so many more writers that have had an impact on me and to read writing coming out of Britain that defines our own lives and struggles led the way for my own explorations and was something that was missing as I grew up. To know that our young people today can find themselves in the pages of books in the mainstream is really encouraging. The days of us being misrepresented are not over, but they are being countered in positive, unapologetic ways. Which leads me to thinking about the publishing industry and its role in representation of Britain. It is about time that the industry took a large step back from ‘racesplaining’ how people of colour should be presented in literature. It is 2019 and we are no l-conger an anomaly on the page, we have shown that we are people, too. We are capable of defining our own lives in our own ways – ways that do not have to include drugs, guns, gangs and killings. We no longer have to sit in the margins as though we are a bookend holding up the main story. We are our stories. We have the ability to tell a tale that is universal and that everyone can read and enjoy no matter their race, gender or any space they occupy in this world. The literature industry needs to stop trying to colonise our stories under the disguise of being inclusive and acknowledge that we have the right to tell our truths in our own ways. Telling stories and writing our truths in any medium, are the most important things writers can offer the world. These words make sense of who and where we are, they log history in all its imperfections and provide a blueprint for the humanity within us all.
S U L Y H C T A R C S
adias I am very honoured to get this opportunity to write in this year’s Black History Month Magazine celebrating Inspirational women since the Windrush. Of course, The woman who has inspired me most in my life would have to be my beautiful mother Gwendolyn who taught me from birth grace, manners, diligence, and to always work towards your goal in life. My mum was a very hard-working nurse who sometimes had other adventures going on, such as baking, sewing and organising events. My Mum also was a person who always reminded me constantly of my cultural values and discipline in order to conquer the stereotypes and perceptions which existed then and today. She taught me how to curb my frustration when I became frustrated which was quite often and was ecstatic when I achieved my goals. Musically we have the honourable Empress Marcia Griffiths from Jamaica. At a very early age her records were on my mum’s playlist along with the like likes of Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin amongst others. Recently we have my daughter Empress Reggae who at a very tender age came to the attention of the world with her dub poetry gracing many world stages. Jah9 Jamaican Reggae artist who is also very passionate about the messages she sends to the world which is so beautiful bearing in mind a very male dominated industry and World. So, you have to be focused and a very strong woman to succeed. And of course we have to mention the new sensation Reggae artist Koffee who also at a tender age is making waves around the world with her dynamic articulate style. I would like to conclude with a quote from my single ‘Mama Africa and Child’ : “She’ s so humble full of politeness But don't take her kindness for weakness Now everyday she looks forward to progress Her aspirations are limitless and boundless.” BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
BY GEOFF THOMPSON MBE
“CELEBRATING OUR SISTERHOOD – A DEBT TO ALL OUR MOTHERS”
his year’s Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect, review and rededicate the past, present and future intergenerational contributions made by the African Diaspora in the social, cultural, economic and political landscape of Britain. From a personal and professional standpoint, and within my incredible journey from the streets to the stadiums of world championship winning sporting success and the opportunity to give back to society reflective of my 30 years in public life, there has never been a greater need to acknowledge and celebrate those shoulders upon whom I stand and as a result have been inspired to continue to fight for a more equal, just and inclusive opportunity for all. The Windrush scandal provided a continued reminder of the need to challenge and ensure that the contributions made are realised. I am celebrating our Sisterhood and their remarkable impact in the lives of the Diaspora community and society as a whole. My Mum, Violet Adriana Thompson came to a post-war Britain to help re-build the Mother Country. She arrived at Liverpool Docks, centuries later, not as a slave as her forefathers had, but to improve her life chances and that of a family left behind in Guyana, South America. Born in a Village – Nabaclis Village, out of a slave rebellion, she developed from the age of 7 a hard work ethic instilled by the Baccus tribe and warrior instincts that characterised the resilience, conviction and God fearing nature that would help her survive her initial experiences of racial ignorance and intolerance. Two examples of that remarkable strength of character were when she armed herself with a screwdriver at the Goodyear factory in Wolverhampton where she worked. To go to the toilet was not something you did no your own and if your accompanying protection was having to man the machines, you simply had a weapon of defence to protect you from near certain attack. The second example was whilst pushing me in my Silver cross pram as a baby in a local park, a group of Teddy boys threatened us both. She fought them off with the help of a fellow Windrush citizen and as a result continued to survive the indifference of the time. Losing my Father and becoming a young widow, she lost our house and everything that a woman at the time had no rights to own. She relocated to inner city London to rebuild her life and that of myself and my sister, avoiding the officials from Barnardos who spent hours to convince her that we belonged in the system. She developed an entrepreneurial flair that saw her cater, clean the Jewish communities homes, sew, hem and finish hundreds of trousers, delivered on a Friday and collected on a Saturday and instilled that entrepreneurial spirit that saw her become a woman of independence and substance. As she celebrated her 90th birthday this year, I heard her ask the question why she had come to this county with all the Windrush societal ignorance that had again reared its ugly head, similar to when she first arrived. I reminded her that her grandchildren and great grandchildren are the sum part of a remarkable life lived in a remarkable journey of spiritual conviction and commitment to God and the blessings that she now provides as a reminder of all those women of substance, fortitude and character that we must always remember, celebrate and acknowledge. Geoff Thompson, MBE Founder & Executive Chairman Youth Charter Former World & European Heavyweight Karate Champion www.youthcharter.co.uk
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“The function of freedom is to free someone else” Toni Morrison
The NEU is celebrating Black History Month with a theme of justice for migrants and we are asking everyone to help create a much more positive approach to the issue. For example, we want everyone to recognise that Britain would be a far poorer place without migrants, literally and culturally. NEU open events on belonging and migration: Birmingham: 11/10/19 | 6-8pm Impact Hub, Walker Bldg, 58 Oxford Street, Birmingham B5 5NR London: 25/10/19 | 6pm – 8pm Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London
More details will be available on the NEU website neu.org.uk from the beginning of October or you can contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re standing up for Justice in Education
6pm – 8pm Manchester: 19/10/19 | 12pm- 5pm TBC
Claudia Jones Founder of Britain’s first Black weekly newspaper “The West Indian Gazette”, also known as the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival
laudia Jones, feminist, black nationalist, political activist, community leader, communist and journalist, has been described as the mother of the Notting Hill carnival. Claudia Vera Cumberbatch was born in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 21 February 1915. When she was nine years old, her family emigrated to New York City following the post-war cocoa price crash in Trinidad. Despite being academically bright, classed as an immigrant woman she was severely limited in her career choices, and so instead of going to college Claudia began working in a laundry, and subsequently found other retail work in Harlem. During this time she joined a drama group, and began to write a column called “Claudia Comments” for a Harlem journal. In 1936, trying to find organisations supporting the Scottsboro Boys, she joined the Young Communist League USA. In 1937 she joined the editorial staff of the Daily Worker, rising by 1938 to become editor of the Weekly Review. After the Young Communist League became American Youth for Democracy during World War II, Jones became
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editor of its monthly journal, Spotlight. After the war, Jones became executive secretary of the Women’s National Commission, secretary for the Women’s Commission of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and in 1952 took the same position at the National Peace Council. In 1953, she took over the editorship of Negro Affairs. An elected member of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Jones also organised and spoke at events. As a result of her membership of CPUSA and various associated activities, in 1948 she was arrested and sentenced to the first of four spells in prison. Incarcerated on Ellis Island, she was threatened with deportation to Trinidad. Claudia was refused entry to Trinidad and Tobago, in part because the British colonial governor Major General Sir Hubert Elvin Rance considered that “she may prove troublesome”. She was eventually offered residency here in the UK. Claudia arrived in London two weeks later, at a time when the British African-Caribbean community was expanding. However, on engaging the political community in the UK, she was
disappointed to find that many British communists were hostile to a black woman. At this time in Britain, many landlords, shops and even some government establishments displayed signs saying “No Irish, No Coloured, No Dogs”. Jones found a community that needed active organisation. She became involved in the British African-Caribbean community to organise both access to basic facilities, as well as the early movement for equal rights. Supported by her friends Trevor Carter, Nadia Cattouse, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Beryl McBurnie, Pearl Prescod and her lifelong
CLAUDIA JONES'S LASTING LEGACY IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL mentor Paul Robeson, Claudia campaigned against racism in housing, education and employment. In the early 1960s, her health failing, Claudia helped organise campaigns against the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill (passed in April 1962), which
would make it harder for nonWhites to migrate to Britain. She also campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela, and spoke out against racism in the workplace. From her experiences in the United States, Jones believed that “people without a voice were as lambs to the slaughter.” In March 1958 above a barber’s shop in Brixton, she founded and thereafter edited the anti-imperialist, anti-racist paper West Indian Gazette. The paper became a key contributor to the rise of consciousness within the Black British community and has served as a catalyst, quickening the awareness, socially and politically, of West Indians, Afro-Asians and their friends. In August 1958, four months after the launch of WIG, occurred the Notting Hill race riots and similar disturbances in Robin Hood Chase, Nottingham. In view of the racially driven analysis of these events by the existing British daily newspapers, Claudia began receiving visits from members of the Black British community and also from various national leaders responding to the concern of their citizens. As a result, Claudia identified the need to “wash the taste of Notting Hill and Nottingham out of our mouths”. It was suggested that the British Black community should have a carnival; it was December 1958, so the next question was: “In the winter?” Jones used her connections to gain use of St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959 for the first Mardi-Gras-based carnival, directed by Edric Connor who in 1951 had arranged for the Trinidad
All Steel Percussion Orchestra to appear at the Festival of Britain and headlining the Boscoe Holder Dance Troupe, jazz guitarist Fitzroy Coleman and singer Cleo Laine; the event was televised nationally by the BBC. These early celebrations were epitomised by the slogan: “A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom.” A footnote on the front cover of the original 1959 souvenir brochure states: “A part of the proceeds [from the sale] of this brochure are to assist the payments of fines of coloured and white youths involved in the Notting Hill events.” Jones and the West Indian Gazette also organised five other annual indoor Caribbean Carnival cabarets at such London venues as Seymour Hall, Porchester Hall and the Lyceum Ballroom, which events are seen as precursors of the celebration of Caribbean Carnival that culminated in the Notting Hill Carnival. Claudia died on Christmas Eve 1964, aged 49, and was found on Christmas Day at her flat after she had suffered a massive heart attack, due to heart disease and tuberculosis. Her funeral on 9 January 1965 was a large and political ceremony, with her burial plot selected to be that located to the left of the tomb of her hero, Karl Marx, in Highgate Cemetery, North London. Claudia Jones's lasting legacy is undoubtedly the Notting Hill carnival, which she helped launch in 1959 as an annual showcase for Caribbean talent. These early celebrations were held in halls and were epitomised by the slogan, ‘A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom’.
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WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT
Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses take calls every day from men and their loved ones, offering confidential support and information about prostate cancer. Here Specialist Nurse Susan answers some common questions about the disease. What do you know about prostate cancer? Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses take calls every day from men and their loved ones, offering confidential support and information about prostate cancer. Here Specialist Nurse Susan answers some common questions about the disease. What is prostate cancer and is it serious? Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Some prostate cancer grows too slowly to cause any problems or affect how long you live, meaning that many men with prostate cancer will never need treatment. But some prostate cancer grows quickly and needs treatment to stop it spreading and causing problems. Who’s at risk of prostate cancer? Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but it might be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. You may also be at an increased risk if you have a family history of prostate cancer (for example, if your father or brother has had it) or if you’re aged 50 or over. If you are a black man, your risk may increase once you're over 45. Are there any symptoms I should be looking out for? Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms – that’s why it’s so important to know about your risk. But, as a rule, if you notice changes in the way you urinate, it’s a good idea to get it checked
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out. While it may simply be a common problem like an infection, it could be a sign of prostate cancer. What tests are there for prostate cancer? There is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer, but the first step is usually the PSA test. This measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood and can indicate a problem with your prostate. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, which rises as you get older. But other things can raise your PSA level, including problems with prostate. If your
PSA level is raised, you might be referred for other tests such an MRI scan or biopsy. I’m concerned about my risk of prostate cancer, what should I do next? If you’re a black man and you’re over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer, even if you don’t have any symptoms. I always say to tell your GP if you have a family history of prostate cancer too. And remember, you have the right to a PSA test if you’re over 50 and you’ve thought carefully about the advantages and disadvantages of the test.
If you’re a black man and you’re over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
If you have any concerns, Prostate Cancer UK’s team of Specialist Nurses are here to help. Call them on 0800 074 8383 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Wed 10am-8pm) or visit prostatecanceruk.org/nurses
An inclusive culture is about making sure everyone can bring the best of themselves to work every day.
Whether this involves improving the ethnic balance of our organisation, or celebrating the different contributions people can make when they share their beliefs and experiences, we offer all our colleagues the same opportunities to grow and develop.
Assistant Relationship Director
Inclusion Programme Coordinator
Graduate, ABL Specialist Portfolio Management
“I launched my career at RBS in 2008, and since 2014, I’ve been in Corporate Banking as an Assistant Relationship Director. My initial experience working for the bank has remained a positive one; I’ve met and forged variety of relationships with people from many different backgrounds. Since I joined more focus has been visible on the inclusion agenda, including more ambitious plans and objectives across the bank.
“I joined the Banks Debt Management team in Birmingham 8 years ago. After moving to London and a period of working in a branch and as a business growth enabler, I secured my current role as Business Inclusion Programme Coordinator. I now co-ordinate activities and events that support the education and growth of business owners across diverse communities. As I’ve gotten more exposure to other areas across the bank it’s been inspiring to witness how many individuals care about the diversity and inclusion agenda and are working hard to make a difference to the organisation not only for their colleagues but for future talent.
“I’m currently on my second rotation of the Commercial Banking graduate scheme and so far I have had an extremely positive experience of working in the bank. My colleagues genuinely care about their customer relationships internally and externally. It’s visible in the honest and supportive relationships that enable others to succeed and the passion to achieve excellent customer service. I’m fortunate that the start of my career has been built on the foundations of great values.
As a minority in RBS, it’s pleasing to see the bank recognising Black History Month. It provides me with the platform to learn and gain historical insight into the contributions of people of African descent. It’s vital for me as a minority to help preserve the historical legacy of BHM so future generations will learn from history. Because of such events, I and other minorities can say we stand tall today on the mighty shoulders of our descendants. Our past serves as a reminder of just how far we have come but also how far there is to go. Since joining the bank, I’ve seen various inclusion initiatives. This is pleasing to see as we serve diverse communities, and it’s imperative we represent those communities in the bank, including in top leadership roles. As 14% of the Bank’s customers are from the ethnic minorities, I am thrilled to see that the Bank has set up challenging objectives to have a more diverse leadership by 2025. We all have a part to play in helping the Bank achieve its ambition to become number one for customer service, trust and advocacy. I believe that now and in the foreseeable future it will be seen as the place where people can bring their whole selves to work, making the bank a great place to work. As said eloquently by Verna Myers, ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusivity is being asked to dance”.”
As a child I was sent to Saturday school to learn about African history, and I was taught about black activists like Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parks. I believe that knowing our own history is of the utmost importance. It’s important to recognise and honour those who have paved the way with their incredible sacrifices to give us better opportunities and for us to understand why the world is the way it is and to encourage us to keep striving for better. I think Black History Month is also important to not only learn about and celebrate the heroes of the past but should be used as an opportunity to highlight the role models and leaders of the future. I think the Bank’s focus on ethnicity is a vital next step in ensuring that we cultivate the best talent and reflect the makeup of the customers and communities we serve. It’s also integral to making sure that all our colleagues feel included and I am proud to work for an organisation that this is a focus for. I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that refuses to see that as a society more can and should be done to nurture all talent.”
Black History Month is important because it helps inspire pride and self-worth amongst the young black community. Feelings of solitude diminish when celebrating the successes and contributions of Black leaders, figures and innovators. And it acts as a tool to challenge negative views and bring them under a common vision which is conducive of diversity and inclusion. Having only worked in the bank for less than year, you don’t have to look very far to see it’s focus and drive for inclusivity. RBS works hard to make you feel comfortable whilst at work. There are dedicated networks, spaces and events that drive multi-culturalism, diversity and inclusion. It’s clear that the Bank cares about a culture of growth without ethnic isolation. And for this reason it makes me proud that RBS supports Black History Month as a powerful force for positive change.”
RUSH A Joyous Jamaican Journey - a musical about the history of Reggae Music
Following an acclaimed pilot show in Birmingham last year RUSH is about to go on tour in the autumn and four of those dates will be in the October Black History Month. Owen Miller the Artistic Director and Producer of the show, was born and brought up in Handsworth Birmingham we caught up with him to find out more about the show and his life.
BHM: RUSH sounds like a really exciting show, can you tell us how it came about? OM: I first had the idea for a show about the history of Reggae music about 25 years ago but it really started to take shape four years ago but I still hadn’t yet taken that leap of faith to produce it; however, I was on tour with The Jacksons last year
and was talking to two of the brothers about my idea and they both encouraged me to take the next step. That encouragement really motivated me so I went ahead and put on a performance of the show last October and we are now looking forward to a series of tour dates this autumn and into 2020. One of the key aims behind the show is to highlight the positive impact immigration can have on a wider culture and the show brings together musicians/ artists from different ethnic backgrounds to celebrate Reggae music. It may sound idealistic but we have a message to convey and that is we can all learn from each other, if we can just see past our differences and work together. Reggae Music is our vehicle to achieve this and the response we received at the two pilot performances last October was phenomenal and we want to share that with as many people as possible. The story revolves around the Windrush Generation and the music they brought with them and how that went on to develop into Reggae.
My parents came to England from the Clarendon Parish in Jamaica, along with thousands of others, in the hope of finding a better life in the Motherland; so it was really important to me on a personal level that the show tells this story. The way in which their generation has been treated recently has also made this incredibly important. Overall our aim is to provide an evening of superb music coupled with facts and information. We want the audience to feel informed and uplifted in a ‘shared experience’ with the artists. Did you know that UNESCO has designated Reggae Music ‘a global treasure’? BHM: You mention being on tour with The Jacksons how did that come about? OM: I began working in Tour Management and Managing Artists years ago. With the help of a cousin who played with Steel Pulse I started out by helping out backstage. I got on really well and was eventually offered the job of Tour Manager for Worlds Apart, a boy band which was based in France. Tour Management has taken me all over the world – Brazil and Cuba, the United States, Japan, Mexico, Australia and most of Europe. It sounds exciting but most of the time you saw the venue, your hotel room, and lived out of a suitcase so really it was just hard work. I also co-managed Liberty X, Billy Crawford as well as managing the solo singer CIE and the hip hop band SKO (their track ‘Just Another Day’ still gets lots of hits YouTube – check it out) and negotiated recording contracts with the likes of Sony and EMI records.
OM: I have some very happy memories of my childhood despite having a father who frequently took the strap to me (I dare say I deserved it at times). My mother was my most important role model growing up and, although she was also very strict, she taught me many life lessons which I still value today; she had a saying for everything and one was ‘Smile and Grind’ and it has always been my motto; so much so that I named one of my companies S&G Touring.
BHM: You were born and brought up in Handsworth, Birmingham. Did you have a happy childhood and what memories do you have of your parents?
BHM: I understand you started out as a professional footballer and were also a chef at one time. OM:Yes, I played with the West Bromwich Albion youth team and went on to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Walsall FC X2 and Port Vale FC. Despite the guidance of my mother I was young and thought I knew it all. In the end too much partying, too much curried goat and dumpling and a foot injury together with a pretty short temper (I now have more patience and more perspective) all contributed to ending my career as a footballer. After football I trained to be a chef and ran a catering company for a few years after which I became a corporate pension and insurance advisor but then I discovered music.
BHM: As you prepare for the tour with this new show what have you found most difficult in getting it off the ground? OM: Money, always money. It has been incredibly difficult to raise the finance for the tour. We have applied to the Arts Council for help and been turned down three times and have a fourth application pending. We are also chasing sponsorship so if there is anyone out there interested in supporting the show PLEASE get in touch or at least go and buy a ticket for one of our shows – we guarantee you a great night. Tour dates for RUSH are included in the Listings section on the website www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk
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Improving Diversity at the Parole Board by reflecting our Society
he Parole Board is an independent body that decides whether people serving certain prison sentences can be safely released into the community or need to be held in prison for the protection of the public. Most of the people who appear before the Board have committed a serious sexual or violent offence. We make decisions in around 25,000 cases each year, once the individual has served the punishment determined by the courts. These are crucial decisions; ensuring that people are only kept in custody where they remain a significant risk to the public; whilst ensuring communities are protected from serious harm. In my experience most people accept that after being properly punished, people deserve a second chance, if their risk to the public has reduced. These are judicial decisions, and every case is different and must be considered fairly on its individual
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merits and must be based on evidence. Given the Parole Board makes such significant decisions, it is vital that we have the trust and confidence as well as looking to reflect those we see (including victims who attend hearings), and the communities we serve. David Lammy
those in prison are from those backgrounds. As a minimum such a mis-match has potential to cause a loss of trust, but it also carries a risk, of unconscious bias in decisions. So, whilst wanting to make a difference is all very well and good, to improve the results the Board sought to completely overhaul its recruitment processes. In the past the Board had run huge national campaigns (prompting over a thousand applications); the sheer volume of applications has meant that we have used on-line sifting tools; people interested in working for the Board needed to visit the Cabinet Office public appointment webpages. The Board felt that this approach was failing to reach out to people in the BAME community.
So, in 2018 we:
David Lammy’s seminal report on race in the criminal justice system highlighted the entrenched problems in the criminal justice system. There was disproportionate, differential treatment of Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic Group throughout the criminal justice system. Furthermore, there was significant under-representation of people from those communities in the institutions themselves. The Lammy report brought into sharp relief ongoing concerns I have had about the lack of representation amongst the members of the Parole Board. In 2016 as CEO of the Parole Board I was interviewed on National Prison Radio by a group of prisoners, and a young black prisoner commented that he had never seen a non-white Parole Board member. I found that unsurprising since less than 5% of over 200 Parole Board members report as being from a BAME background. By contrast over a quarter of
• started to build grass-roots interest via a social media campaign via our @parole_board twitter account; • developed a dedicated #workwithus web page with content explaining the work of the Parole Board; • Changed our recruitment strategy, to undertake regional rather than national campaigns. • Developed a network of third-party champions to reach out to different communities.
We also wanted to reach out to people who might never have thought about working with the Parole Board. To achieve this when we launched our campaign in the North of England, we hosted two outreach events in Bradford and Sheffield, which were attended by well over 200 people who had the chance to talk to me and Parole Board members. We also gave targeted media interviews. Our approach worked and significantly
more people from a BAME background applied and many were successful. In August, the Parole Board announced that we had appointed an additional 53 new, and independent members. 48% of the people appointed were from a BAME background and a significant proportion of those were from a Black African/Caribbean background. In one recruitment campaign the Board more than tripled the number of BAME Parole Board members and increased
our overall percentage of BAME members from under 5% to 13%. I have now met many of those people and I am sure they will enrich our work. There is still work to be done, and we are committed to building on this success across the country, and planning is already underway for our next campaigns in the Midlands and London and the South East. The new approach needs to be mainstreamed into every future campaign. Whilst I am glad that we have made a good start in increasing our diversity. We need to monitor potential disproportionality as seen elsewhere in the Criminal Justice System (in arrest and sentencing). This is now a focus of training and awareness for Parole Board members. People interested in our work can visit our website: https://www.gov.uk/ guidance/work-with-us to find out more.
and joyous season celebrating the numerous events around the country. It is important that we all recognise the significant contributions our vibrant multi-cultural communities have made to the success of the UK.
Martin Jones Chief Executive of the Parole Board www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ parole-board
The Parole Board looks forward to encouraging and attracting the best people from all the diverse communities to help us with the important work we do serving society. I wish all the readers and supporters of this years Black History Month magazine a happy
PATRICK VERNON OBE
t’s been 16 years since I launched 100 Great Black Britons. The campaign was one of the most successful movements to focus on the role of people of African and Caribbean descent in British history. Frustrated by the widespread and continuing exclusion of the black British community from the mainstream popular conception of ‘Britishness’, despite black people having lived in Britain for over a thousand years, Vernon set up a public poll in which anyone could vote for the black Briton they most admired. Mary Seacole was voted the Greatest Black Briton of all time. Over the last decade there has been an increasing demand for a follow-up campaign and list; and in the wake of the Brexit referendum and Windrush scandal, the 100 Great Black Britons campaign is more relevant than ever. So, we are now relaunching the 100 GBB campaign for 2019! Once again, this campaign seeks to highlight the legacy and achievements of black people in Britain. Furthermore, during the last 16 years, academics and independent
scholars have discovered new black British historical figures, and new role models and icons have emerged since the last campaign in 2004. The new campaign provides an opportunity for reassessment and reflection on what makes a Great Black Briton and how we recognise unsung heroes who may not have the profile and the coverage that they deserve. Closing dates for nominations will be 1st December 2019. Results will be announced for Black History Month 2020 alongside the launch of the upcoming publication and board game. I am please that my friends at Sugar Media and Marketing and Black History Month Magazine are supporting this important project Anyone can visit www.100GreatBlackBritons.co.uk to make your nominations. Patrick Vernon OBE Founder of 100 Great Black Britons
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
BY CHERRON INKO-TARIAH MBE
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”
his quote is by one of my favourite heroines, Harriet Tubman. Tubman exhibits all the qualities I admire in people and women in particular. I have always been drawn to women who demonstrate strength, passion, determination and a willingness to support others. She strategically created a network of anti-slavery activists to form the underground railroad. She died over 100 years ago and yet her legacy still impacts me today. She isn’t the only woman that inspire me. Worldwide figures such as Angela Davies, Zeinab Bedawi, Serena Williams and Shirley Chisholm just some of the women that I hold in high regard. However, I am also inspired by women who may not be well known to the world but have influenced me greatly.
– this is evidenced by the investment in the Workforce Race Equality Standard, which is beginning to show improvement on this agenda. Yvonne, like Tubman, uses her vast network and position to lead others and offers solutions. She is the one of most pioneering women in the NHS and still finds time to support and mentor others. It was Yvonne’s determination that inspired me to take a more active leadership role in the NHS. She has truly empowered me – thanks Yvonne!
psychiatric and psychosocial nurse and the founder of Pattigift* Therapy CIC. Her approach to psychotherapy is Psychodynamic or Integrative, founded on an African centred psychological understanding, the underpinning philosophy of Ubuntu (humanity). As impressive as all this is, it was Rameri’s enthusiasm, vast knowledge and sense of self that inspired me. I remember sitting on the train back to London thinking: “WOW. Rameri knows who she is, where she’s from and where she’s going. She knows that she is her best thing. I need to emulate this” Even though I was on my way home, I knew then that a new personal journey had begun and have never looked back. So thank you Rameri for being You – Your best thing!
YVONNE COGHILL CBE
“Empowered Women, Empower Women” Yvonne Coghill is the Director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) Implementation at NHS England, and Vice President at the Royal College of Nursing. She is a true champion of the NHS constitution and has tirelessly spoken out about the racism that exists in the NHS. Under her leadership, NHS England introduced the most rigorous tool to address to close the gap between the treatment and experience of White staff and the much worse experience of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff. She and her team have been working with Boards to improve outcomes for BME staff. When it comes to race equality, very few people or organisations anywhere in the world can claim they are getting it right. It is because of Yvonne’s passion and ability to provide a narrative based on the analysis of the WRES data, that the NHS is taking race equality seriously. It continues to receive, high level support and commitment
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RAMERI RESHKHI MOUKAM
“You are your best thing” (Toni Morrison) I met Rameri in 2018 and never has one woman had such an impact on me in such a short space of time. I was delivering a presentation and Rameri was one of the lead trainers. I spent less than a day with her but I learnt so much about the psychological challenges that some people – especially black people – face everyday. Rameri is a qualified
“And still I rise” (Mayo Angelou) Lila is one talented teenager. While in primary school she overcame bullying and learned to love who she is: a beautiful girl who loves fashion, maths and Marvel. Lila inspires me because she never gives up and always wants to give her best. She is always willing to help others and make them feel welcome. She is at the forefront of my mind when I work with organisations as I’m determined to help create workplaces where she can come and be her fabulous self. In the meantime, when she does face challenges, I remind her that she is special and the melanin in her skin is her superpower so that no matter what, she will still rise. Thanks Lila for being the best God-Daughter in the world xx
CLOTHING THAT MEANS MORE… ORLEAN RICE AKA MUM
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas” (Shirley Chisholm) My mum is a trailblazer from the beautiful island of Barbados. Like many, she came to England in the 1960s and carved out a life for herself. This included raising 4 children (two sets of twins) single-handedly often saying things such as: • Got to study/work twice as hard! • Don’t bring police to my door • Don’t write the cheque with your mouth that your wallet can’t cash (words to that effect). Put some money aside for a rainy day • Don’t go into the front room • Give to others • Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul I could go on. I am who I am today because of the sense of ‘can do’ my mum instilled in me and my siblings growing up. When my older brother (who had learning disabilities passed away at 18 years old), I remember my mum using that as catalyst to follow her dream and become a social worker. She studied, passed her exams and became a senior key worker – supporting people like my brother. Even though she’s now retired, my mum is as active as ever. She is a whizz on the tablet because she decided to sign up for classes to learn how to use it. She now uses her tablet to teach herself Spanish and crochet! She gets involved in community led meetings and acts as an advocate for the senior members of the community (earning her an award!). As long as I have known her (all my life), she has always giving sage advice, practical support and making people laugh. Standing on the sidelines is something my mum has never done – she just gets on with it and inspired me to do the same. Make progress by implementing your ideas. Therein lies your POWER. Thanks Mum (see you for dinner) These 4 women inspire me in all sorts of ways and I am who I am because of them. Who inspires you? #celebrateoursistahs
Native In Me (NIM) was founded in 2016 by Kenneth Ojekwe. It is a unique clothing brand derived from a desire for people to wear clothing that means something to them. The idea originated over 14 years ago following a conversation he had with a friend who told Kenneth he would never publicly disclose his heritage. This was then followed up by some peer-to-peer social research and informal findings which showed that many people are proud of their origins but may not express themselves unless prompted in some environments. Kenneth said “Native In Me is a clothing brand derived from a desire for people to wear clothing that means something to them. I mean really means something. I'm the world we live in now, there's no better way to show that you are proud of who you are. Our core belief at NIM is that it doesn’t matter where you were born, it doesn’t matter that you speak different languages with an accent or that you cannot speak the languages of your great grandparents; you should be proud of who you are. So, the name ‘Native In Me’ was carefully selected to inspire the wearer and onlookers to be proud of who they are.” Trademarked and launched in 2017 after a very successful crowdfunding campaign, NIM now produce high quality mid-range to luxury casual clothing including t-shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, joggers and dresses. The brand is growing and continually expanding its offering to customers. With cultural undertones and classic designs, the brand has a global appeal currently shipping to over 80 countries. The message from Kenneth and NIM for Black History Month readers is “BE BRITISH, BE AFRICAN, BE CARIBBEAN, BE ASIAN, BE AMERICAN, BE SOUTH AMERICAN, BE EUROPEAN, BE A MIX… JUST BE YOU!”
NIM are offering a unique 25% off all orders made before 6 December 2019. Please use the discount code 25BHM19A
To find out more visit www.nativeinme.com
“New Daughters of Africa” by Margaret Busby A REVIEW BY JOHN STEVENSON
"O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no l onger sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties”. These are the words of Maria W Stewart (1803-1880), the first African-American woman to give public lectures. Remarkably prescient too, against the background in which they were uttered – in the heart of American slavery and virulent racism, where the status of the Black woman was the lowest in American society. Stewart’s declaration serves as the impulse for New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent edited by Margaret Busby, published in early 2019 by Myriad. This new book is a follow-up from Margaret Busby’s 1992 highly-acclaimed and path-breaking anthology, Daughters of Africa.
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For the general reader of any gender, the historical sweep and diversity of this literary compendium is staggering, with judiciously selected works of African and African- Diasporan women. New Daughters of Africa is divided up as follows: Pre-1900, 1900s, 1920s,1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Over the course of its 805 pages, the tome showcases the work of more than 200 women writers in the form of memoir, short stories, speeches, novel extracts, poetry and journalism. Well known and obscure contributors include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Patience Agbabi, Malorie Blackman, Edwidge Danticat, Esi Edugyan, Bernardine Evaristo, Roxane Gay, Karen Lord, Warsan Shire, Zadie Smith. The book begins with a Lamentation penned by Nana Asma’u (the daughter of Shehu Usman dan Fodiyo, founder of the 19th century Sokoto Caliphate) for her friend Aysha, and ends with Sunita, by Chibundu Onuzo. In her introduction to the New Daughters of Africa, Busby says: “Custom, tradition, friendships, mentor/mentee relationships, romance, sisterhood, inspiration, encouragement, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race and identity within these pages is explored an extensive spectrum of possibilities, in ways that are touching, surprising, angry, considered, joyful, heartrending. Supposedly taboo subjects are addressed head-on and with subtlety, familiar dilemmas elicit new takes.”
Every Black home should own a copy of the book. The literary voices of Black women need to be heard even more urgently now.
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Advance HE’s Equality Charters Driving change in organisational culture in higher education and research. Advance HE’s equality charters aim to transform and support race and gender equality. We have developed Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter and Athena SWAN Charter to help the higher education and research sectors address racial and gender inequality, including the underrepresentation and lack of progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students, and the gender imbalance at senior levels and in certain subjects.
Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter (REC)
The Race Equality Charter (REC) aims to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students within higher education. It provides a framework through which institutions work to self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students and have their commitment to and progress in removing these barriers recognised.
Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter
The Athena SWAN Charter is a framework that is used across the globe to support institutions to advance gender equality within higher education and research. Established in 2005 to recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM), the charter is now used to address gender inequality more broadly, and directs attention on the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity.
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
KATHERINE JOHNSON: A Lifetime of STEM
NASA Mathematician, trailblazer in the quest for racial equality, contributor to the first triumphs in human spaceflight and champion of STEM education, Katherine G. Johnson stands among NASA’s most inspirational figures.
Katherine Johnson loved to count. “I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.” And so it began for this young girl from West Virginia in the US . Born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Johnson’s love for mathematics was inherent, an inclination she had from birth. At a young age, she was ready and anxious to go to school. She can vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school and wishing so much that she could go with them. The opportunity to attend school finally did come. Johnson so excelled that she began her studies in the second grade, then moved into advanced classes. By age 10, Johnson was in high school. In school, one teacher stood out to Johnson. Miss Turner taught geometry, and Johnson couldn’t wait to take her class. The teacher was a great encourager to the students and a strong mentor to many of them. Johnson did so well in her classes that she graduated early from high school, and at age 15 she entered West Virginia State College. She had two years before having to declare a major, so Johnson wavered between English, French and mathematics. One of her professors at
BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
West Virginia State College helped Johnson with her choice. She told Johnson, “If you don’t show up for my class, I will come and find you.” And so it was, through part threat and part joke, Johnson steered her way into what was already her first love: mathematics. At West Virginia State College, Johnson became immersed in academia and the mathematics program. She loved being surrounded by smart people, she said, and knew all of the professors and students on campus. One of her professors, the renowned Dr.William W. Schiefflin Claytor, recognized the bright and inquisitive mind that Johnson had. “You’d make a great research mathematician,” he told her. Then professor Claytor did something else. He told Johnson that he would help her become one. Johnson said, “Many professors tell you that you’d be good at this or that, but they don’t always help you with that career path. Professor Claytor made sure I was
prepared to be a research mathematician.” He saw that Johnson took all of the mathematics classes listed in the catalog that were needed to pursue her life’s passion, and even went so far as to create a class in analytic geometry of space just for her. At age 18, Johnson graduated summa cum laude with Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and French. Johnson recalls of her professor, “Claytor was a young professor himself, and he would walk into the room, put his hand in his pocket, and take some chalk out, and continue yesterday’s lesson. But sometimes I could see that others in the class did not understand what he was teaching. So I would ask questions to help them. He’d tell me that I should know the answer, and I finally had to tell him that I did know the answer, but the other students did not. I could tell.” Johnson ended up teaching after college; at that time, teaching was the only option for her in her community. She left teaching to marry and start her family. When her husband fell ill in 1952, she began to teach again. And then one day, at a family function in the 1950s, a relative mentioned to Johnson that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, was hiring. They were specifically looking for African-American females to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department. In the 1950s, pools of women at NACA did calculations that the engineers needed worked or verified. Johnson immediately applied for the job, but the agency already had filled its quota for the year. By the time the next year rolled around, Johnson had applied again and found herself with two contracts on her table. One was a contract to teach, and one was to work for NACA. Remembering what professor Claytor had always told her about becoming a research mathematician, she took the job at NACA.
Johnson began working for NACA in 1953. Her work in the agency was a day-to-day progression. She started as one of the women who worked on problems assigned from the engineers in what was then the Guidance and Control Branch. As Johnson worked on the problems, she would ask questions. She didn’t want to just do the work - she wanted to know the “hows” and the “whys” and then the “why nots.” None of the other women had ever asked questions before, but by asking questions, Johnson began to stand out. She was told that women didn’t participate in the briefings or attend meetings; she asked if there were a law against it. The answer, of course, was no, and so Johnson began to attend briefings. NACA was just beginning its work on space. Space itself may be perceived as a series of plane surfaces, and as Johnson became known for her training in geometry, she began to work with the team more and more. Eventually, she became known as a leader, and the men increasingly relied on her. She remembers quite clearly her experience at the time. “The women did what they were told to do,” she explained. “They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.” It was this inquisitive nature that made her a valuable resource to the team and the only woman at the time to ever be pulled from the computing pool to work on other programs. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the maths for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report. Then in 1962, President John F. Kennedy charged the country to send a man to the moon. Johnson became part of the team, and she began to work on calculating the trajectory for America’s first space trip with Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission, an early step toward a moon landing. She went on to do the calculations for the first actual moon landing in 1969. Johnson worked at the agency until 1986, when she retired after 33 years of service.
During her tenure at NASA, Johnson received many prestigious awards. Among them were the NASA Lunar Orbiter Award and three NASA Special Achievement Awards. She was named Mathematician of the Year in 1997 by the National Technical Association. In addition to these NASA awards, Johnson has been honoured with an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the State University of New York and honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Capitol College in Maryland and Old Dominion University in Virginia. At the degree ceremony in New York, Johnson discovered at the last minute that not only was she an honouree, but she was also the keynote speaker. With her esteemed career to draw upon, Johnson rose to the occasion and spoke with the audience. She referred to it as a “chat” with the graduates. A 45-year-old relative of a graduate told Johnson after the ceremony that, because of her “chat,” she was returning to school the following fall to complete her degree. Today, Johnson is enjoying her retirement. She likes to travel, play bridge, watch sports and spend time with her family. She has participated in many panels and conferences, including the NASA Trailblazers and Legends
STEM Conference in Cape Canaveral, Fl., in 2010. She often speaks to students about her own extraordinary career and encourages all of them to pursue STEM careers. Johnson tells them, “We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics. Everything is physics and math.” Johnson has served on different panels and has heard from students who told her they decided to go into a STEM career after listening to her talk. She keeps in touch with NASA employees and will call on them, when needed, to help drive home the importance of STEM to audiences. At one recent event in North Carolina, Johnson mentioned to the students that she could get an astronaut to talk to them. The school hooked up her phone to the PA system, and they were able to have a conversation with astronaut Leland Melvin. In 2011, Johnson was honoured at the dedication of the Katherine G. Johnson Science Technology Institute at Alpha Academy in Fayetteville, N.C. When asked if she still counts things, Johnson said, “Oh, yes. And things have to be parallel. I see a picture right now that’s not parallel, so I’m going to go straighten it. Things must be in order.” Geometry is still an important part of who she is, a fact evident as she began to talk about her father. She recalled him as “the tallest, straightest man in the area.” She loved her father a great deal, and he was a big influence in her life, teaching her many things. One lesson she has carried everywhere, taught to her own children, and let be a guide throughout her education, career and every other aspect of her life. Katherine Johnson celebrated her 101th birthday on Aug. 26, 2019.
Katherine Johnson shares some smiles with astronaut Leland Melvin
An image to Inspire by a beloved Son. BY JOHN STEVENSON
66 BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2019
‘A picture tells a thousand words’.
A much hackneyed phrase for sure, but there should never be a dearth of Windrush-era images and accounts of our Caribbean family members, friends and acquaintances. We need them for posterity’s sake. The sepia-tinted tones of this photograph, featuring my late mother, Marva Stevenson (at left), and her life-long best friend and work colleague, Marjorie Johnson, tells its own captivating story. It was taken during a rain-soaked visit to Edinburgh Castle in 1959 when both ladies were 23-year-olds. You can just about make out the haunting hues of the Castle in the shadows, as these two elegantly dressed ladies step forth into the light. I have seen this photo dozens of times over the five decades of my life; it never ceases to tug at my emotions. My mother arrived in London in 1958 from Saint Vincent to train as a midwife. She completed her qualifications a year later at Finchley Memorial Hospital in North London. It was there that she met her friend Marjorie from Barbados, also a nurse in training. They became fast friends, subsequently working together in midwifery and general nursing in England and much further afield: Mill Road Maternity Hospital in Liverpool from 1960 to 1963; Queen Elizabeth Maternity Unit in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1963 to 1965; and, Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey (USA) from 1965 to 1966. I look at their Edinburgh Castle photograph and can’t help thinking that they represented a proud generation of young women who bravely emigrated to make the best possible fist of professional opportunities in the ‘mother country’- an Imperial nation then at its knees, which severely neglected the West Indian colonial communities from which the ladies were sprung. Publishing this photo in Black History Month magazine gives me another reason to salute the women of my mother’s generation and recognize their ambition and resilience in the face of a racially challenging environment. My mother often told me stories about some patients on the wards asking the ‘darkie’ nurses not to touch them. And more tales too, of other patients curious about ‘monkey tails’ concealed under their starched and pressed nurse uniforms. It’s an image which still inspires me, my wife and my children.
From spring 2020 the law around organ donation in England is changing
Black History Month Magazine www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk is the central point of focus and lead the nationwide celebration of Black History...
Published on Sep 29, 2019
Black History Month Magazine www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk is the central point of focus and lead the nationwide celebration of Black History...