Tag Archive | "Black History"

Black Presence Owner answers a few questions about the site

Frequently asked Questions
Why build a site like The Black Presence in Britain?
When I had the idea to build the site, there were very few black british history resources on the Internet. It was hard to find out anything at all about the lives of black people who lived in Britain prior to the 1950’s. I thought it would be great if there was one place on the web that students could find information about black British history. It is my hope that black British history will be integrated into school history lessons in in the United Kingdom, thus giving children a clearer view of how multicultural Britain has existed through history.
Who is this site aimed at?
This site is intended to be used as a starting point for anyone who is interested in British History. So teachers, students and researchers will benefit from the existence of this site. The main purpose of the site is to make British history more inclusive.
Isn’t it racist, what if there were a site called the White presence in Britain, surely this is double standards?
The site is specifically focussing on one area. History topics in Schools and Universities do this all the time. There are lots of sites and thousands of publications about British history that largely exclude the contribution of black people. This site seeks to make the information available to anyone who wants it irrespective of race. Inadequate and incomplete history books do not give a true representation of British history.

Frequently Asked Questions
Site owner Phil, answers question put to him by various readers over the years.

1) Why build a site like The Black Presence in Britain? (Blackpresence)

blackpresence Owner-Phil

blackpresence owner-Phil

When I had the idea to build the site, there were very few black british history resources on the Internet. It was hard to find out anything at all about the lives of black people who lived in Britain prior to the 1950’s. I thought it would be great if there was one place on the web that students could find information about black British history.  It is my hope that black British history will be integrated into school history lessons in in the United Kingdom, thus giving children a clearer view of how multicultural Britain has existed through history.

2) Who is this site aimed at?

This site is intended to be used as a starting point for anyone who is interested in black British History. So teachers, students and researchers will benefit from the existence of this site. The main purpose of the site was to make British history more inclusive.

3) Isn’t it racist, what if there were a site called the White presence in Britain, surely this is double standards?

The site is specifically focussing on one area. History topics in Schools and Universities do this all the time. There are lots of sites and thousands of publications about history that largely exclude the contribution of black people. This site seeks to make the information available to anyone who wants it irrespective of race. Inadequate and incomplete history books do not give a true representation of history.

4) Why have you changed the name from the Black Presence in Britain to just blackpresence and back again? What are you hiding?

Nothing at all, the site has changed it’s name and that was widely publicised. After 12 years on the web were are now lots of sites focusing on black British History. I decided that as many of our visitors were from overseas, that it might be more interesting and challenging to broaden the appeal of the site and write more about events and news in the diaspora. Black British History is quite a narrow focus and I wanted to expand. However, it’s a learning curve, and the site was performing well in a niche area. World history is much broader than British history and in truth I think i bit off more than I could chew.

5) What happened to the black British Forums, they were really lively and buzzing?

Well, I’m afraid they were killed by spammers 3 times. I was using the free software PHPBB to run the forums and though they were lively a few years ago they were slowly strangled by Russian spammers. The Spammers send out small programs called bots. These programs register on the forums as real users and then proceed to fill the forum with links to porn and viagra and other such nonsense. Sadly this began to drive the regular posters away from the site. 

Despite installing several anti spam measures, they kept getting through, my moderators were emailing me ever day about the influx of spam. In the end I decided to pull the plug because it was taking up too much of my time. My first child had just been born and I didn’t have the time to maintain a site that should in theory take care of itself.

 I’m now encouraging people to blog for the site instead.  If you have something important to say, you can still say it on blackpresence. Just go to the “Write for us” page.  The forums will return, just as soon as I have found and implemented a secure solution.

6) Why is your Identity a mystery?

Is it? I’m Phil Gregory.  I enjoy my privacy like anyone else, I get hundred s of emails from all the web sites I work on, and I couldn’t possibly deal with snail mail and phone calls too.

7) Why does the site have a gmail account and not a normal @blackpresence.co.uk address?

The site did have blackpresence addresses however, these were again choked with spam. Gmail has a brilliant spam filter which keeps my email time down to a minimum. Before I swapped to Gmail If I went on holiday for 2 weeks, I’d get home open outlook and have to download about 900 spam emails, it was a nightmare.

8) Given that there are so many black websites out there now, and black people are using the net much more. Is there still a need for your site?

Absolutely, remember there’s a difference between quantity and quality. It’s a slow road but visitor numbers are growing and the site is turning a corner now, There’s still a way to go yet,  but I aim to make the Black Presence in Britain website  one of the best sites on the Internet for black history related information. All I need is time, the will and interest of the people. As long as they click the adds every now and again the site will pay for itself and hopefully still be around in another 10 years.


Posted in Black Britain, Editors BlogComments (1)

Josephine Baker and the Parisian Jazz Age

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the dancer Josephine Baker in the annals of European Black History in this century. She quite literally changed everything for black artists in Paris, and as a consequence, the world over. Paris was the centre of the artistic and music world at the time Baker exploded onto the scene, and the astonishing impact she made saw both the whole of Paris open-mouthed in admiration and rapturously welcoming. Yet Baker was not just a spectacularly talented dancer. She was the first African American woman to appear in a motion picture. And her political activities saw her awarded the Croix de Guerre for her work during World War II in aiding the French Resistance. She was a strong advocate in the American Civil Rights Movement, and spoke alongside Martin Luther King, Jr in 1963 at the March on Washington rally.

So who was Josephine Baker, and how did it all begin? She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Carrie McDonald. Carrie had been adopted by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom had worked as slaves and were of African and Native American descent. There were no 0% overdraft options in those days, and so they lived in poverty. Josephine had a particularly difficult and traumatic early life, working domestically from the age of eight and suffering abuse at the hands of her employers. She finally dropped out of school altogether by the age of 12 and lived on the streets in St Louis, scavenging for food and sleeping in the open. To make money, she began dancing on street corners, and was so gifted she was spotted by a talent scout. This extraordinary turn of fate saw the ragged little girl join the St Louis Chorus vaudeville show at the age of 15. From that point onwards her upward trajectory began. Soon she was performing at the Plantation Club and on Broadway. She was a hugely popular performer, not just for her dancing ability, but for her comedy skills. She clowned around, pulling faces to add to the comedy of her dances. The audiences loved her irreverence and character.


In 1925 Josephine arrived in Paris and caused a sensation immediately, for her risqué dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage – not entirely unusual for that time, but seldom achieved with such aplomb. She stormed the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and ended up as a performer at the famous The Folies Bergère, with a wildly risqué dance routine, called La Folie du Jour which brought elements of African tribal dance to the West, and was seized upon by the tolerant and open-minded French. Although to a modern audience her act may seem simply to pander to stereotypes of African ‘native’ dancers, dressed in leaves and made ‘exotic’ and ‘other’, we must remember the cultural context in which she was performing. Audiences had never seen dancing like this before. Josephine’s physical beauty was overwhelming for many of the audience, who had seldom seen African bodies moving and dancing, especially not as exuberantly and freely as Josephine’s did. She was a natural and irresistible performer, witty and lithe, she kept her audience entranced.

Her act coincided with an increasing interest in African culture, which was partly due to the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, and partly by Picasso’s preoccupation with African tribal art at around the same time. Black jazz musicians were welcomed in Paris between the wars, and many escaped the poverty and racism of America to find their way there; there was simply nowhere better for a black artist to be at that time. Soon Josephine Baker became a muse for contemporary authors, painters, designers, and sculptors including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Christian Dior, and Picasso himself. She starred in two films in the early 1930s, called Zou-Zou and Princess Tam-Tam. But despite her huge fame in Europe she was unsuccessful on a return trip to the United States in 1936. Audiences were simply not ready for a black female performer of such distinction, and newspaper reviews of her work were cutting. America still had a long way to go to catch up with the rest of Europe in terms of racial equality. Baker returned to France.


When WWII began, Josephine Baker was well placed to help the French Resistance. As a touring artist she could move around the country without attracting suspicion, and her success also meant she could mix with high society and pick up bits of intelligence while she did so. She smuggled hidden messages for the Resistance on her sheet music. When the Germans invaded, she escaped to the South of France, where she helped protect Belgian refugees and continued to work towards a free France. For her work in the War she was awarded the Croix de guerre, Rosette de la Résistance, and given the extraordinary honour of being made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. At her funeral she was given a ‘21 gun salute’, making her the first American woman ever to be buried in France with military honours.

Civil Rights Activist

Baker was always a vocal supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement, and refused to play to segregated audiences when she performed there. She spoke alongside Martin Luther King, Jnr and after his assassination was approached by his widow to ask if she would take over as leader of the movement. Baker declined, thinking the risk of her own assassination would be an unfair burden on her adopted children.

Return To America

In 1973 Josephine finally overcame her disappointment about the negative response she received in the States. She nervously accepted an invitation to New York’s Carnegie Hall. She walked on stage to a standing ovation, and was so overcome that she wept openly. America had finally moved on culturally and politically, and welcomed their wonderful star back with open arms.


When Josephine Baker died in 1975, it was just days after a triumphant show to celebrate her 50 years in show business, Joséphine à Bobino, garnered rapturous reviews, and mass celebrity attendance. She was 68. Over 20,000 people gathered in Paris to watch her funeral procession. From a barefoot child on the streets, she died loved and honoured by the whole world. Her quiet charm and moral courage remain an inspiration to this day.

Posted in African American History, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Women, Guest Blog PostsComments (2)

Notting Hill and other stories – Part 2

Accounts experiences of Policing & Governance of NHC 2011

Accounts and experiences of the policing and governance of the Notting Hill Carnival 2011 and the 6.30 shut down of the music for the masquerade bands and steel bands on Carnival Monday 29th August 2011
All the accounts in this document have been made anonymous. The original documents are available as evidence.
The accounts show the strong views and feelings of carnival spectators, masqueraders stall holders and band leaders to police intervention at Notting Hill Carnival 2011, especially the imposition of a shut down of music on the Carnival route at 6.30pm.

There are also views on how Notting Hill Carnival is governed and the relationship of the London Notting Hill Carnival Ltd (LNCL) the carnival organisers with the authorities.

These experiences and accounts have been sent to me in response to an email I sent out on September 1st 2011. The email was my account and observations of Notting Hill Carnival 2011. It is the first account listed in this document
This document of experiences and accounts was sent to the Kensington & Chelsea’s Community & Police Engagement Group (CPEG) who organised a “Post Carnival Meeting” for residents and carnival bands on Monday 17th October 2011 at the Lighthouse West , 111- 117 Lancaster Road, Ladbroke Grove , London W11 1QT
Michael La Rose Carnival author, researcher and consultant 17th October 2011

Account 1
Since Notting Hill Carnival 2011, I have been approached for my view. A friend of mine commented “Trinidad have curfew, now Notting Hill Carnival have 6.30 curfew!” I was on the road with Panectar and left them to find Cocoyea. People are giving me their feedback every day. So this is what I saw.
At 6.30 I witnessed Mayhem, South Connections were taken off the route and Nostalgia told to stop beating pan and move on. The policy was no music at Carnival after 6.30! This was what the Carnival organises and leaders of the associations had agreed to with the threat from the police if the music did not stop at 6.30, Carnival would be cancelled. Mayhem, Masquerade bands and sound trucks were sent off the route. Elderly men and women some children and young women in skimpy costumes were made to walk to their transport points which were away from the Carnival route. Most mas bands, their bandleaders and masqueraders do not come from the Notting Hill area, and some were lost, confused and distressed. They only know around the Carnival route. They were forced to find their way

back to their transport points which are all over the Carnival area. One person told me that women in costumes were met by sexual comments as they walked through the crowds. Another said that playing mas in a band was how she participated safely in Carnival.

Band leaders were totally unprepared for the diversion of the Carnival music trucks and floats away from the Carnival route. They had not organised transportation for their masqueraders. They couldn’t. Wherever the music stopped, that was it, and the bands were taken off the Carnival route.

My view is that that treatment of the mas bands and masqueraders at Notting Hill Carnival was disgraceful. The current leadership of Notting Hill Carnival and its associations lack courage to stand up for Carnival culture. They misread the power they had in this 2011 Carnival season. After the riots, the police and government in Britain for the first time in the history of Notting Hill Carnival said they wanted it to succeed! Why? Because the Olympics are coming next year. They already looked bad during the August riots, and it would be a public relations disaster, if they admitted they feared and had to cancel Notting Hill Carnival. They themselves admit finally that our creation, Notting Hill Carnival attracts international visitors, the global media and generates fantastic amounts of money.

This was the time to demand what we want to make the Carnival better. Our leaders in Carnival let us down. Instead we got treated like unwanted relatives. The masquerade bands and steel bands do not create violence at Notting Hill Carnival, but we paid the price. The positives though were that there were fewer barriers around the Carnival route, giving a more natural Carnival atmosphere. There was the best provision of toilets (Portaloos) I have ever known at Carnival. This may be very temporary, as I hear all the Portaloos in the country next year will be used at the Olympics.

The main magnet for potential violence at Notting Hill Carnival was removed with the non- appearance this year of Rampage and KCC static sound systems. The violence at Carnival was drastically reduced to one stabbing over 2 days of Carnival, which is less than occurs in one normal night in London, New York or Rio. Before 6.30, the police were behaving like human beings and went on a charm offensive. The crowds showed their support and sympathy for the police after their under-resourced efforts during the riots. But after 6.30 pm, the police turned back into monosyllable robocops. We need intelligent and culturally aware policing of Carnival.

There have to be better arrangements for music at Notting Hill Carnival. 8pm is a good finish time. Most mas bands want to go home by then. Let the sound trucks and steel bands play music until they leave the route, bringing crowds behind them and draining the centre of Carnival.
In the 1980s, the Carnival organisers and police agreed this was the best strategy. They called it the Pied Piper method. Our Carnival leaders must fight to improve the Carnival for masqueraders, steel bands and mas spectators, by erecting £1 viewing stands with seats and bleachers, at different points along the Carnival route. Erect the temporary viewing stands either side of the judging point, at Trini Hill, Grenada Corner and other suitable points along the Carnival route.
I say to our Carnival leadership, don’t get browbeaten by the authorities. They need us now, know your strength and stand firm for your culture.
Next Carnival I plan to tell my friends to bring some bottle and spoon and iron, to form a rhythm section so we can chip and jam our way home. No music at Carnival? Dey mad!

© Michael La Rose September 2011
Account 2
On Carnival Monday 2011, at approximately 5:15-5:30 the Mangrove Mas Band had just passed Westbourne Park tube station and was approaching the judging point on Great Western Road when they were approached by police officers demanding that the sound system be turned off. Clive Phillip the band leader and other members of the band argued that it was not yet 6 0’clock and we had not yet gone past the judging point. The major aim of all carnival bands on Carnival Monday is to be seen by the judges.
Ancil Barclay and Christopher Boothman who are representative of the Notting Hill Carnival Ltd the carnival organizers, were present at the incident and approached the police regarding their request that the music be turned off. There were discussions and arguments back and forth. It would appear that the officers did not pay any attention to Mr Barclay or Mr Boothman. Eventually after a lengthy back and forth argument the officer in charge at that point agreed to allow the Mangrove Mas band to continue playing their music just beyond the judging point.

Meanwhile, the mas bands in front and behind the Mangrove Mas band were still playing their music. No one had approached them and asked them to turn their music off. Mangrove members also questioned the police approach which made it appear that the Mangrove Mas band were being targeted and victimized.
Further down the route Clive Phillip and other members of the Mangrove Mas Band approached some police officers who were stationed at Westbourne Park Road. The officers were asked for assistance by the Mangrove Mas band to help them get home by making a right unto Westbourne Park Road. The band’s base and mas camp is just one block away from this corner. The music in the band was turned off at this stage.

The officer in charge stated that there were not sufficient officers to clear the path to enable Mangrove Mas band to make the right onto Westbourne Park Road and get home and off the street. It was pointed out to the officer by the members of the mas band that the amount of officers that were already being used to escort the Mangrove Mas band could be utilized to clear the street. The officers were bent on making the band go all the way round the Carnival route. The officers turned a deaf ear to our pleas for their assistance. They refused to recognize that the Mangrove Mas band were based in Ladbroke Grove and only a block away from home.
The officers were informed by the Mangrove Mas band that they would continue to play their music if they had to continue on the Carnival route. The band turned the music back on and made a left on to Westbourne Park Road and a right on to Chepstow Road.

Two blocks up on to the Chepstow Road the police approached Mangrove Mas Band again demanding that we shut off the music. Mangrove Mas band once again requested to be allowed to make a right turn, pointing out that two blocks up was the Tabernacle where our Mas Camp was. Once again the police refused.
After this the Police squad swooped down on the mas band dressed in riot gear and attempted to seize the truck that was carrying the sound system. They demanded that the music be turned off and that our masqueraders in the band should disperse. They were informed by Clive Phillip and other members of the Mangrove Mas Band that we were not leaving our masqueraders abandoned on the road. We said If they wanted work to do they could walk with us and escort us on the route. The Mangrove Mas band members were being harassed, pushed around and subjected to terror and intimidation by the police riot squad.

The police riot squad formed a line around the Mangrove Mas band and herded us like animals. The riot squad lined up, all the officers hooked arms together and encaged us. They did not allow anyone in the band to pass beyond the police cordon. The police riot squad were ”Kettling” the Mangrove Mas band at Notting Hill Carnival. Meanwhile, a police helicopter hovered above the band and our masqueraders. It appeared to us that the officers were intent on antagonizing the members of the band and inciting us to become violent. We begged and pleaded with them to allow us to come off the Carnival route and make our way back to our Mas Camp without the music, but they were determined to treat us like animals. The police used and abused their power because they wanted to punish us for turning the music back on.

Surrounded by the police the Mangrove Mas band were kept moving. As we approached Westbourne Grove the police told the truck driver carrying Mangrove Mas band’s sound system to cross over the street and park on the right. We told the police that this direction was taking us away from where our mas camp was located. Another truck behind us with a sound system was allowed to make a left on Westbourne Grove heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove.
The driver of our truck had not encountered anything like this before. He drove the truck across the street and parked where the police had indicated. But in a panic he drove off with great speed with all of the sound equipment on the truck.

One of the members approached the police and questioned why was it that the other truck was allowed make the left and Mangrove Mas band was not. The officer stated it was because Mangrove was asked to turn their music off and they did not. The member then stated “we were penalized for that?”
The Notting Hill Carnival is where black people come out to make mas and enjoy themselves. It is our way, our way of celebrating our freedom, de-stressing and letting go of all inhibitions. Look around and you will not see the large amounts of police at any other festival celebrated in England like you see at Notting Hill Carnival.

We are targeted by the police and discriminated against. We are perceived by the police as unruly and are only capable of inciting violence. It would appear that this is the police view of black people when we are in a mass at Notting Hill Carnival.

Account 3
I deliberately avoided the carnival this year. After supporting my other half for the past 5 years on his stall at the carnival I have experienced a catalogue of injustices which founders of the carnival like Claudia Jones would be disgraced at.

1. There is not adequate water supply for food stall holders
2. Food stall holders are expected to use the same toilets as thousands of other people which by 12pm are so unhygienic I had to resort to not drinking any fluids for 2 days so I don’t have to use a nasty toilet and go back to sell food. Yet still Environmental Health come and inspect the stalls for what may I ask? You would carry more germs from using a toilet that has vomit, shit, piss and other human fluids, then going to sell food.
3. We could not even play our own Soca music on our stall. As a Trinidadian carnival is about us playing our music. We were told we would be prosecuted if we played our music
4. At the end of trade we were giving away the food and the police told us we could not even do that and if we continued we would have our licence taken away
Yet still we the stall holders, sound systems and vendors continue to pay RKBC £900 each to be treated like shit. Why are we giving power to these people for the to treat us like shit. This is modern day slavery only difference is we are funding the slave masters pockets. I stayed away because the carnival is not profitable for any of the stall holders. Next year screw RBKC and let’s go to Africa and start a carnival with education, knowledge, stalls that promote unity and evolution of consciousness

Account 4
I really experienced Notting Hill Carnival on both days from the inside for the first time this year, 2011, having joined a Carnival band to play mas with a posse of friends.

It was a big thing for me and I was determined to enjoy it “coûte que coûte” !
Sunday was good. I played with UK Chocolate, we started on time, at 10 am and finished early at around 2.30 (may be a little too early) . We did however feel we were rushed along the route, and the music was not that good, not to mention that the sound system broke down several times. I played with Chocolate the previous year, and there were larger crowds.

I was impressed with the number of toilets available as in previous years I was told, finding free toilets was analogous to hunting for treasure! That was definitely a big positive. There were plenty of food stalls, and an abundance of refreshments from the band’s refreshment van.
Monday, the really big day was a little less enjoyable. We started a little later than on the Sunday, at around 10.20-10.30 and the pace was painfully slow with other bands on the route in front of us. We were held up for about 2 hours just by the fire station on Ladbroke Grove . With the slow pace and the constant stopping, because there appeared to be a gridlock situation, we finally arrived at the judging point on Great Western Road after 6pm having set off just after 10 am. By the time we got to the end of the judging point, it was 6.29pm and the band leadership announced over the sound system that they had been instructed by the police to stop the music as 6.30 was the cut off deadline! We were gobsmacked, understandably very unhappy as we wanted to carry on. For us Carnival wasn’t over. It was like preparing and waiting for an audition, getting up there and being told “thank you for coming” ten seconds into a performance! The police emerged from the hitherto charming and affable shell of Sunday and up to that point on Monday, and descended on the trucks, ordering the bandleaders to stop the music immediately. Back to their usual selves! The band leadership and DJs appeared to acquiesce not wanting to cause problems with the Police.

The sound trucks were immediately taken off the route. As the bandleaders were unprepared for the situation, masqueraders were literally abandoned and left to their own devices to find their own way onward from 6.30pm. Not a pleasant experience. I was with a friend and neither of us knew the area very well and started off trying to find our way back to Latimer Road. Neither the |Police nor the band leadership seemed to be giving out any instructions as to what to do from that point and it took us all of 1 and 3/4 hours to walk back, during which time we asked police officers several times for directions, they didn’t seem to have a clue and were not very helpful at all. They only seemed concerned with ensuring that the route was cleared. They ended up sending us around in circles. I had brought a coat and put it on when we left the band. My friend however, who has over 20 years’ experience of playing mas, and didn’t expect to have to find her own way outside of the guidance and protection of the band and Carnival route , was still in her skimpy costume.

In the course of our “journey”, we suffered lewd and offensive remarks and looks from men and we felt very very unsafe and afraid, particularly as it was beginning to get dark. We finally got back to Latimer Road at around 8.15.
I would suggest the Carnival bandleaders put their foot down and do something about preserving Carnival as an enjoyable experience for masqueraders who pay a lot for their costumes, from start to finish.

Account 5
To me it seems as though we don’t know who we’re dealing with (the public authorities) and we don’t appear to have the capacity to challenge some of the nonentities we are forced to do each year. Draconian clauses are applied to carnival each year. What other large scale event experience this?
For years, carnival organisers appear in front the authorities with a begging bowl approach. Isn’t it time we outline our needs, wants and expectations? We always appear to be addressing the authorities needs and bending over backwards to make all things possible for them without the gratitude.
Granted, public money is spent on carnival. Carnival is not the only event that utilise public money yet it is the only one that expected to crawl on its belly to meet the authorities’ needs.
In a nutshell, our carnival organisers we don’t have the backbone to deal with the authorities and lack the knowledge of their own product to be of any use. The authorities know this. Why else would every year be about yet more new and impossible clauses that restrict our event!

Account 6
The police were fine with the 8.30 shutdown we had last year, it was NHCL (carnival organisers) who decided on the earlier shutdown claiming “the people” wanted it to shut down earlier. The arenas were asked to vote on it, but the vote was not counted. NHCL hit the panic button on this one!
below is the response from the Chair of CMA, to the claim of the “agreed” time, I was at the meeting mentioned on the 12th of August 2011, I am yet to receive a copy of minutes for that meeting!

Subject: Re: Revised operational plan and Vehicle pass collection 2011.
Chris, Ancil,
thanks for the e-mail. I appreciate we are all under pressure at the moment but we have no official communication from you on the outcome of your meetings following the meeting we had in Baseline Studios on Friday 12th August, until now. I need to raise some of my concerns and lack of communications.

Before I do – for the record the arenas did not agree to a 6.30 finish as you state in your e- mail. Although there was some debate when a vote was made by raise of hand the majority did not agree to a 6.30pm finish. Appreciate you may have been under pressure for an earlier finish time under the current climate but this ‘agreed’ 6.30pm finish time has not been communicated by you to us until now.

1) I don’t understand why it has taken so long to send out comms to arenas when it appears a number of statements have been made previously in the media but for some reason nothing has been communicated from you to arenas until now unless I have missed something? Surely communications could have gone out sooner than now?

2) I stated at the meeting in Baseline studios that I have been working with MPS for past 3 years on text messaging system and will be collating mobile numbers for texts communications for issues effecting the route, hold ups, incidents etc. This has been working well and I offered to everyone at the meeting. I have already been sending mobile numbers and have already sent 70 mobile numbers so far to MPS. I have included Mas and Steel Bands on the latest list I have sent to MPS. The list I have sent is obviously in confidence and I have been assured the numbers I provide is only for text messages only. Surely you don’t need to duplicate work for performance units when I have already advised you I was doing this?

3) Can you clarify if we still have a viewing grand stand VIP area formerly the judging zone what is the reason it was decided by you to pull judging? (e-mail sent 22/08/11). I remember an e-mail in response from Chris Shaw on the same day asking if there is still a grand stand where the judging point is or if it was an empty space? I did not see a reply. The reason I ask the question is because if as now seems from your e-mail that the infrastructure is in place but the judging could not be financed why was this not communicated to us before if we wanted to supply our own judges for our own competitions such as our Soca on the Move Competition? I don’t understand if we have a viewing grand stand and VIP area in placew
why could I not have the Soca On the Move Competition if CMA supplied their own judges like BAS do?

Regards Lyndon CMA

On Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 6:03 PM, Notting Hill Carnival > wrote:

Dear Members,
Please be informed that during the recent disturbances we have had to re-examine our risk assessment. As a result, the arenas in conjunction with LNHCL and other stakeholders have agreed have agreed to start carnival 2011 promptly at 09:00hrs with a shut off time of 18:30hrs for Mas bands and 19:00hrs for the static sound systems.

We have been informed by the Arts Council England (ACE) that they will be sending assessors to this year’s carnival. They will be located at our usual viewing grandstand and VIP area (formerly the Judging Zone) on Great Western Road. As you may be aware ACE is offering a substantial amount of funding for 2012 which is available to all bands, therefore let’s have fun and display our costumes in their full splendour.
This year we need all vehicles to be in the carnival footprint by 09:00hrs. Failure to comply with this request may lead to serious difficulties with the police in accessing the footprint. Bands need to ensure that their music is turned off promptly at 18:30hrs as stated in the revised conditions of participation which you will need to sign when you come to collect your vehicle passes.

Your vehicle passes can be collected from the LNHCL office on the following days (The address is below):
· Thursday 25th: 20:00hrs – 21:30hrs
· Friday 26th: 11:00hrs – 21:30hrs
As part of our communication strategy we require a mobile number for each band so that route updates and alerts can be sent and received by text.
Let’s work together and have a great Carnival; thank you for your support
Please note that this email is only applicable to those bands that have completely registered for this year’s event.
Ancil Barclay and Christopher Boothman. Interim Directors.

LNHCL. Logo. Red.Black.(Small) …The Official Notting Hill Carnival Event Organiser. LONDON NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL LTD.
5 Baseline Studios. Whitchurch Road.
London. W11 4AT
T: 020-7727-0072
info @ nottinghill-carnival.com

Account 7
I agree with the £1 viewing stands. It would ease he congestion of the public along the viewing route and be more comfortable for the senior citizens and parents with children in strollers.
Account 8
An interesting consequence of these new measures is that the very nature of the Carnival is being prescribed by how the end of the event is being defined – by geography (physical space) and by time (6.30 p.m.). The Carnival footprint is thus being defined as the route ONLY and once you deviate from that route, you become ex-Carnival and subject to all the restrictions relating to the public.
For example. We were told that once we reached Harrow Road to return to our Camp in Woodfield Road, players had to de-robe and walk along the pavement back to Camp. This meant you were ‘finished’ with the participation and therefore you had to bcome a member of the public and so take off costumes and then return to ‘normality’.

This has serious implications for how the Carnival is being re-defined and soon we will find that despite our arguments for the Pied Pier option, we will be boxed in to a beginning and an end with each ‘terminal’ becoming costume free zones.
I have little confidence that the new members of the Governing Committee will be able to champion our cause in the robust way that is necessary.

Account 9
The band leaders be they steelband or masquerade bands need to call for a change in those who organise the events and stop this attitude of ‘you scratch my back I scratch yours’. In 2003 back home in Trini some of the bandleaders protested about the route and that certain bands were winning every year (namely the bikini and beads bands) and the creative art form was being lost to a Brazilian type mas. I was in the first batch of new (NCC) judges who went to judging workshops and had to sit an exam to become a carnival judge this resulted in shift to more creative bands winning Band of the Year. However it was met with hostility from the older judges who were opposed to change and we as new judges stood our ground and I’m glad to see bands with real design are continuing to win.
I personally think that the T&T High Commision needs to be more vocal about carnival and take a proactive role in promoting carnival because we have the experience and years of

practice because it annoys me that the daily news papers talk about Brazil and Jamaica carnival and absolutely nothing about our Trini carnival. I went into the T&T High Commission recently and first thing I’m greeted with is rum and bitters come on we produce more than that, pics of carnival costumes, steelbands, soca and calypso artists should ‘ be in your face’. Some of mates were saying I was going to the ‘Jamaican carnival’ my reply was no it is Nothing Hill carnival and it showcases West Indian culture.

Furthermore some helpful suggestions I have seen masquerade bands that have their own protaloos; as a spectator people from the bands were jumping over the barricades where we stood to go and urinate in front of people’s doorway along Elkestone Road. My friends and I took some people up to where we were staying and allowed them to use the toilet because some of them came from abroad to the UK to take part in the carnival.
I think that the obituary for steelband is being read in Nottinghill carnival and I’m not sure if the future for steelband looks ‘bright’. If we here in Notting Hill Carnival don’t stand up to change the governance of carnival by starting with informing our UK counterparts and fellow West Indians about how vital carnival is and the aspect of something as simple as ‘chipping down the road’ and ‘playing mas’ then carnival being used as a medium for freedom of expression; well the future looks very bleak and we would surely be heading for a Labour Day type carnival where music stops at 6pm, you can’t drink alcohol in public and the whole event is police regimented.

Account 10
Re carnival feedback
1— The bottle and spoon idea was introduced three years ago by Smokey Joe Roadshow / Arawak, to the point that our masqueraders insist on it for the last hour on the road. When I first did it the police asked me to switch off the people.
2— This year was my best carnival ever, almost every mas band I spoke to agreed with the cut off time. There`s no law that says we have to go on late, promote an early start. (after 7 hrs most masqueraders have had enough)
3– Somebody has to go on the road first, maybe we could address the switch off time. After 6.30 switch off once you reach Ladbroke Grove
4— The Caribbean Governments (especially those who depend on tourism), have to get involved financially, after all we promote Caribbean culture the attendance at Notting Hill is at least 70% white. This would reduce our dependency on the stakeholders
Just a few ideas

Account 11
The current leadership in carnival has been in an interim position since 2008. This in itself shows lack of structure yet the arenas who can change this choose not to. I believe this is because of their weakness and inability to do so.
Carnival has an advisory body following what was said to be an open interview process yet I couldn’t tell you who make up the advisory body and what the purpose of this body is.

Carnival is changing from a company limited by guarantee (CLG) to a Trust following a review of its structure. This started in April 2011. What has been done and who is leading on this is a mystery. A business like carnival that function on public funds must be transparent.
The full review report was never made public thanks to Chris Boothman, only a summary was provided. Chris Boothman and Ancil Barclay are afraid of something?
Despite having an advisory board and change in operation in place there appears to be no clear structure or governance.
Open meetings held are often done in confusion. Worst still is the lack of operational understanding the people of carnival have. They often speak out of turn to the point of great embarrassment that shows how disjointed we are.

As you know, the carnival company recognises 5 arenas whom it relies on for God knows what. How these arenas can claim to speak on behalf of their member bands/groups when mas, in particular, never asks it’s members what works, what does not work and what are its members’ needs, wants and expectations and when the carnival company never sets any measurable standards is beyond me.

In 2008, RBKC said carnival needed strong leadership, good governance and robust financial management structures in place. To this day, none of these things have been done. The 2004 Carnival Review report states the same things. It’s as though carnival doesn’t listen or perhaps the people who hold leadership position don’t have the skills, abilities and qualities needed and feel threatened by these things. I believe they are out of their depth.
2012 is going to be a pinnacle year for carnival. We need structures in place and fast, not the continuous chaos which the public authorities use to keep us in our deluded place.

Any time carnival fails, it changes the type of organisation it is. It is not the type of organisation that fails but the type of leaders we have in place. They are incompetent and lack knowledge. We must recruit new leaders who can keep our business from the continuous mess it falls into.
Making changes to carnival requires information. There is no point reinventing the wheel when information is held under cloak and dagger by those who are afraid that its disclosure will unhinge them.

We need:
To see a full copy of the review report
To establish the purpose of the advisory body, a short-term body recruited to put governance in place
To speak to the arenas and not necessarily the arena chairs where you’ll hear the difference of opinion
To obtain the plan for 2012 and beyond, also 2011 trial plan
To establish what policies and procedures are in place
When equipped with all this information then the public authorities (RBKC, WCC, Met Police, etc) can be approached. The public bodies are enjoying the confusion we live in, it’s make their budget cutting exercise easier year or year.
To think, the police business plan states they aim to cut over £5m to their policing budget. Reducing police at the Notting Hill Carnival was one area. The London riots was not excuse, this year’s policing was deliberate. It was actually a practice exercise for 2012 and the expenditure for this was taken from the carnival budget.

Account 12

I felt strongly about the curfew (at Notting Hill Carnival) as well. I think it’s not conducive to safety at all. All the people without music creates a strange atmosphere which is much more volatile to trouble than if there was music. This is a point i feel strongly about and I think this could be used well to make the authorities understand that the curfew is not serving its purpose at all because its more conducive to trouble than music.

Account 13
Met. 1 Carnival 0
I’ve just re-read last Friday’s Evening Standard which bore the bold front page headline: ‘LET TRUE SPIRIT OF LONDON SHINE OUT’ followed by ‘Boris issued a rallying call’ in the 1st sentence of the article accompanied by a pic of 2 beautiful, smiling Masqueraders! Even with such a positive opening statement, the ES manages to blot its copybook by cynically inserting the words ‘Carnival’ and ‘Riots’ in the next sentence. So the die was cast.
The Met has expressed its contempt for Chris Boothman and his executive; and these latter have meekly complied by doing the same to the Mas bands. We get the leadership we deserve!

On Monday, I joined Mangrove between the Judging Point an’ Trini Corner expectin’ to do my ‘Las’ Lap’. Having been crowned Panorama Champions, Mangrove surely deserved their moment of accolade in front of the hardcore stalwarts waiting on TC. No one appeared to be aware the Sound on de Road also had a curfew. I certainly wasn’t! So I’m intrigued to know why this vital concession was not communicated in advance to the bandleaders!
We saw how instant and widespread was the media coverage of the single instance of blade madness!
I feel one o’ de Mas band shd. begin negotiatin’ to get Usain Bolt in deh band from now! Dat will put de spotlight on de decision-making fuh next year.

Account 14
Our masqueraders were very disappointed when the music was switched off. I had actually spoken to Trevor Jenner sergeant Met police…and he told me that the route diversion was because it kicked off in Ladbroke Grove. …But i will send you our report. I am also on the CMA executive. And i sent an email last week for our members to send in their incidences and experiences to me so that we could collate a report to send to LNHC Ltd and the police.

Just for the record… I was at the meeting where we voted for a time of closure… And the execs of the arenas voted against early closure. But LNHC Ltd were to meet with stakeholders and obviously made that decision…. Which i questioned and deleted on the conditions of participation before signing.

Account 15
Having left the mas camp at a very slow pace after 10am it seems all the bands in the neighbouring area had the same thought and left the same time. Eventually we got to Kensal Road where we were stuck for some time which was just about acceptable due to the bands coming out at the same time.
As the band got going again at a slow pace, the masqueraders had no idea as to why this was happening we all took it in our stride as we always do. As time was going by, there happened to be no announcements to the masqueraders who were patient. Just before the judging point the police came and took the number of our lorry and told the DJ’s to stop all music which by then was 6.30. Again the masqueraders were left stunned as to what we should do, as many of us started off at the camp and expected to return with the band. Due to the confusion everyone looked puzzled as to how to plan their exit.

A friend of mine who took part in playing mas for the first time was as disoriented as myself trying to find our way back to the camp. The band leader had already left with the Brazilian dancers who participated in our band and I was told they had to be led back as they did not know their way back well nor were the masqueraders!!
As my friend and myself were heading back we were stopped by the police and told the road was closed. They directed us the opposite way to where we were heading which took almost 2 hours. During that time we were stopped by several bystanders who were obviously had too much alcohol and acted in an antisocial manner when we refused to have our photographs taken with them. I found their behaviour was of a vulgar nature. As the evening was getting darker we began to panic as we were no nearer the camp. Our families were getting worried and so too my friend and myself.

It makes me think that there were no organization or strategy between the carnival committee and the police who were unable to handle the situation
For further information contact michael.larosem @ gmail.com © Michael La Rose October 2011

Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Caribbean HistoryComments (0)

Black British History Education Event 8/11/2011

Black British History Event

Black British History Event

Dear Friends,

I hope you will be interested in an event that is taking place in two weeks time, on Tuesday 8th November at the Institute of Education in the University of London.

The general picture of Black British history in our schools and universities is still very bleak. There are only two universities where we know undergraduate students will be able to study modules specialising in Black British history in the future (since London Metropolitan have now closed their history courses). Studying African-American history, and even African history, is quite common across schools and universities, and some even think that Civil Rights (U.S.) will be up alongside Hitler and Henry VIII in the common school history diet. We want the history of Black people in Britain to be as well known in our society. It will take a lot of work to develop such courses and to give teachers the confidence to move it forward, and the project we are proposing would do that.

The Black British History Education Project is a collaborative working group led by the Institute of Education, the Black Cultural Archives and the Black and Asian Studies Association. The primary focus of the group is equipping history teachers to teach Black British History. The secondary to raise the (academic) profile of Black British history in the UK/

The evening on 8th November will be a chance to hear more about this work, to hear about work that is going on in schools and colleges, and to discuss key questions about moving forward. The United Nations declared 2011 to be the ‘Year for People of African Descent’, and we hope this event will play some part in honouring those who have in recent centuries followed the whole of humanity in ‘coming out of Africa’. I do hope you will be able to join us.

I have attached the flyer for this event to this email. Please feel free to pass on the anyone who you think would be interested in the event and project.

Best wishes, and hope to see you on 8th

The Black British History Education Project

More information about the Black British History Education Project (BBHEP:

“Raising the profile and the pedagogy of Black British History in British schools & universities.”
Tackling the taboo: Solving the dilemma for history in UK schools

Much pioneering work has been pursued for many years by dedicated colleagues, frequently “working against the grain” in schools, colleges & heritage organisations, to make young people aware of the importance of the history of people of African & Asian descent living and working in British society, particularly since the 18th century. This new project would make the fullest use of that work, and seeks to develop and research work on teaching Black British history in secondary schools, through Key Stage 3 and beyond. It is being planned as a joint venture between the Institute of Education, the Black Cultural Archives, and the Black and Asian Studies Association.

Our position is to declare that the history of peoples of African and Asian descent is already a part of England’s National Curriculum history, and is not to be simply designated as ‘non-British history’; that teachers can be led into much more creative and authentic ways of interpreting the demands of the National Curriculum after the forthcoming changes, to enable students to learn a diverse range of ‘British histories’, and also to pursue those studies in examination courses in the 14-19 phase.

Globally, the United Nations has designated 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent, and this project would be a significant contribution to the General Assembly’s resolution to promote “a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture” (UN, 2010). Moreover, in our metropolis, the work would be a response to the recommendations of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage (2005), which included a call for “The development of innovative teaching programmes to assist teachers in gaining the confidence and skill to incorporate cultural diversity and inclusion more effectively”. The current review of the English National Curriculum, and the attendant stirrings about the role of history in schools, gives another imperative to this work; we want to achieve a secure place for the study of Black history in schools.

The Black British History Education Project is a collaborative working group led by the Institute of Education, the Black Cultural Archives and the Black and Asian Studies Association.The primary focus of the group is equipping history teachers to teach Black British History. The secondary to raise the (academic) profile of Black British history in the UK. We are currently:

  • Developing a MA module (content & pedagogy) for teacher training at the IOE focused on Black British history.
  • Developing in service training for secondary school teachers to develop subject knowledge in Black British history
  • Creating schemes of work including pedagogical approaches for secondary schools in England within the National Curriculum and within public examination syllabuses built on the BCA resource
  • Creating guidelines for teachers and students in secondary schools

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (3)

JOB: Faith, Slavery and Identity Programme Internship

The National Portrait Gallery houses a unique collection of all forms of portraiture of the people who have made or who are currently contributing to British history and culture.  With more than 1.8 million visitors each year, the Gallery is one of the country’s most important and popular galleries.


Faith, Slavery and Identity Programme Internship

Fixed-term for 6 months, 24 hours per week

£6.08 per hour


To mark the importance of the Ayuba Suleiman Diallo loan to the National Portrait Gallery and opportunity for public access we are creating a programme of participation activity in London (October 2011-December 2011) and across the country with three regional partners. The Programme Intern will help document, evaluate and share the experience of programme, audience response and participation at the Gallery and work with colleagues to share the outcomes to inform the regional programme of activity. We are seeking to appoint an individual for whom this opportunity would provide an important starting point in building and developing skills and expertise in research, engagement and participation practice in the cultural sector.


As with all paid internship positions we encourage applications from recent graduates including those in receipt of Maintenance/Special Support Grant/Hardship Fund.


Full details of this and all other employment opportunities at the Gallery can be viewed at our website www.npg.org.uk/jobs or requested by e-mailing:personnel@npg.org.ukClosing date for applications is 9.00am on Monday, 31 October 2011.


The Gallery is committed to equality and is a member of the Employers’ Forum on Disability, Race for Opportunity and the Equality Exchange.

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Caribbean HistoryComments (0)

Jobs – Community Project Officer – National Archives



Job Details:Community Project Officer
Ref1546X Department Education and Outreach Directorate Operations and ServicesBandBand ESpecialism
Closing Date Monday 7th November 2011 at midnight

Job Purpose
Based in the Education & Outreach Department but with some national travel, the post holder will build and maintain links with new communities, specifically from African and Caribbean communities. You will work with these communities to promote images from The National Archives’ CO 1069 collection, organise and run consultation forums capturing feedback about the series and assist in the delivery off site and online community events. The CO 1069/Caribbean series is a digitised collection of photographs and images spanning one hundred years from The National Archives’ Colonial Office series.

Reports to: Outreach & Inclusion Manager
Role and Responsibilities
* To build awareness and use of the CO 1069 Caribbean image series among Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. This will involve organising and running community consultation forums nationwide

*To consult widely with communities, gather comprehensive information from that process and present findings to the project board

*To encourage and support idea generation for community-led events and projects inspired by the CO 1069 collection. It is anticipated that these will be hosted both online and within community settings ·

*To work on your own initiative to help the communities deliver related events and projects to a high standard and within set budgets and timescales. ·

*To build a database of communities involved in the project, sustain links with them throughout the project duration and ensure a thorough handover when the project ends

*To explore innovative ways of promoting activities within communities, using social networking and other channels, ensuring ongoing data capture for post project evaluation and reporting. ·

*To familiarise yourself with the CO 1069 collection and with the general workings of The National Archives ·

*To provide an effective and proactive contact point for networking opportunities within wider education, museum and archive communities for the benefit of the project’s aims and objectives.

*To be mindful of intellectual property rights and copyright and ensure that suppliers’ and partners’ rights are protected during any community-led events and projects, demonstrating a comprehensive audit trail.

Person Specification

*A track record in working within an outreach or education role serving Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and with very high standards of customer focus.

*Knowledge of some of the issues that affect community access to heritage. Commitment to making archival collections inclusive and accessible to new communities

*Excellent organisational and administrative skills as well as past experience of running community forums or events successfully

*The ability to work on your own initiative and organise your workload, within time and budgetary constraints

*Excellent interpersonal skills; notably the ability to communicate with, motivate and understand the needs of a wide range of people. This would include experience in delivering presentations within community settings offsite

*A high level of energy, enthusiasm and creativity to ensure outreach projects engage new communities and the ability to bring these to fruition

*Good ICT knowledge and skills, especially MS Office, Powerpoint and social media.

*Ability to travel nationally to run community events


*Existing community contacts with Black and Minority Ethnic communities nationwide

*Knowledge and practical experience of archive materials and how they can be used to create relevant and exciting projects

*Knowledge of the records held by The National Archives

*Experience of creating online or exhibition resources with educational or community content
Additional Information
Health and Safety Risk Assessment
Normal office environment

Kew, West London

Working Arrangement
Full-time. Fixed Term Appointment until 31 March 2013 with the possibility of extension.


Starting Salary
£25,000 plus generous benefits package, including pension, childcare vouchers, sports and social club facilities, onsite gym, subsidised staff restaurant and opportunities for training and development.

How to Apply
To submit your application please click the ‘Apply for this job’ button at the bottom of this page. Additionally, please upload a recent copy of your CV and a supporting statement.

Supporting Statement
Please explain how you meet each point in the person specification. You may draw on knowledge, skills, abilities, experience gained from paid work, domestic responsibilities, education, leisure interests and voluntary activities. Please note selection for interview will largely be based on the information you provide in this section. Please write on separate sheets, but remember to put your name and post applied for on each sheet.

For Further Information
Please contact the Recruitment Team on 020 8392 5203.

Closing Date
Monday 7th November 2011 at midnight

To be confirmed

Apply for this job
Back to search results


Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Caribbean HistoryComments (0)

Captain Paul Cuffe



(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.)  — It took nearly two hundred years but New Bedford now has a lasting tribute to Captain Paul Cuffe in the form of a park, dedicated today in his honor at the southern foot of historic Johnny Cake Hill.

Paul Cuffe (1759-1817) was the free-born son of an African father and a Native American mother. A skillful mariner, he was also a successful merchant, philanthropist, community leader, civil rights advocate and abolitionist. In 1780 he petitioned for the right to vote as a landowner and taxpayer. He established the first integrated school in America and became an advisor to President James Madison.
More than 120 guests and the public joined in the dedication ceremonies under a tent on the upper terrace of the Whaling Museum campus overlooking the park, which is sited on the southwest corner of the Museum grounds. The site is also adjacent to the location where Cuffe once kept a store in New Bedford, Cuffe & Howards.
Guests included Cuffe descendants and Native Americans representing several tribes in Southern New England. A traditional Native American smudge ceremony was performed by the members present to bless the park before local and state officials cut a ribbon opening the new park.
Native American song began the program with the Nettukkusqk Singers – Wampanoag and Nipmuc women from Rhode Island and Massachusetts  – performing women’s drumming and singing traditions from their tribal communities.
Students of the Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School of Providence, Rhode Island, read brief essays on the life and work of the Captain.
Cuffe descendant Robert Kelley, Esq., was keynote speaker on behalf of the Cuffe family.
The Rev. Pam Cole offered an opening prayer and reflected on the faith of the Quakers – the Society of Friends – the of tenets of which Cuffe and his family practiced.
Other speakers included: James Russell, President & CEO, New Bedford Whaling Museum; James Lopes, Esq., Vice President, Education & Programming; Daniel Dilworth, Acting Superintendent, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park; Lee Blake, President, New Bedford Historical Society; and New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang.
The Dedication was the concluding event of “Old Dartmouth Roots,” a free two-day genealogy and local history symposium at the Museum, and was funded in part by Mass Humanities
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world’s most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city’s historic downtown and is open daily. For more information visit: www.whalingmuseum.org

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, SlaveryComments (1)

Black Britons Civil Rights Struggle – Should it be taught in schools?


Claudia Jones - Civil Rights Activist

Claudia Jones - Civil Rights Activist

History classes in the National Curriculum will often gloss over slavery, idolize the efforts of William Wilberforce and study the methods of Martin Luther King’s struggle for civil rights. For many young Black people in Britain, one would argue that it is very easy for them to recall the names of US Civil Rights icons, better than not knowing any at all right? Well, it begs the question as to whether there are any standout Black UK Civil Rights activists who fought the struggle and why, if not, is it not taught in schools?

Towards the end of 2010 Mississipi became the first US State to introduce a Civil Rights Curriculum for all student grades. Currently, in most States, Black history is said to be taught more so at particular times of the year such as during Black History Month in February and near to the time of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King’s birthday. Much of the history classes in general  center around subjects such as the American Revolution and President George Washington.

In comparison to Britain, the history classes focus primarily on the Russian Revolution; the Nazi era; the British Empire’s rule over India and British History during the World War, in particular World War II. You will then find at least one class dedicated to slavery and the US Civil Rights movement.

The curriculum currently evades the contributions that Black Britons made towards the Civil Rights movement in Britain. Perhaps it is seen as not as prolific to that of Martin Luther King’s efforts. The question to ask is would the new generation of young leaders in Britain feel more empowered if they were aware of those who fought the struggle for equality in the UK.

For example, not many people know that in 1963 Paul Stephenson led a successful boycott against a racist public bus company in Bristol. He also went to trial for refusing to leave a pub until he was served beer, knowing that it was common practice for some pubs to show signs stating “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.

So, what are your thoughts? Do we need to see and learn of those who struggled for civil rights in Britain? And more importantly should it be taught in schools?


Posted in African American History, Black Britain, Black History, Black People in EuropeComments (13)

Why do we need black history month? – Have your say

BHM 2010

BHM 2010

As it’s Black History month in October here in the U.k a question has been raised as to the relevance of BHM. I have outlined my feelings in Black history Month, why we still need it. However, I want to know how other people feel about it. I asked Toyin Agbetu, founder of the Ligali Foundation how he felt about Black History Month. His response is below.


Toyin Agbetu

The need for African history month is similar to that of a statutory body for equality. We ideally do not want it to exist but accept that whilst discrimination remains a fixture of society, we require progressive remedies to address and eventually eradicate the problem.

One important improvement to African history month would be to ensure that events strongly feature history on the acts, culture and beliefs of self determining Africans as opposed to its current focus on entertainment or first to mimic western achievement milestones.

However for African history month itself not to cause damage by reinforcing falsehoods of eurocentrism (see Samir Amin) then it is crucial that all black history month events are pan-African in character and place the restoration of African identity at the centre of their teachings – not nebulous narrow doctrines of hyphenated black nationalism as they do now.

Now it’s your turn, please share your feelings about black history month with us all here.

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Caribbean HistoryComments (15)

Blackpresence Website – Black British History

Blackpresence Website – Black British History

Pressbox (Press Release)
Black History Month begins in October.

With Black History Month almost upon us again, we have been busy adding articles and features to the popular Black British website Blackpresence

The Black Presence website was formerly The Black Presence in Britain, a history site about the contribution of African descended people in British history.

The Black Presence in Britain website was set up in 1998 due to a lack of information about the contributions of Black people to British history to be found on the Internet.

Owner/Author of the Site Phil Gregory says:
I was studying politics at the time, the course included a history module called
The black Presence in Britain 1550-present day.
Whilst doing my research, I found a serious lack of Black British info online. So, I decided to build my own site where this information could be documented.

Initially meant as a small experimental site, Blackpresence has grown and grown. The demand for information drove the site to expand, and evolve.

Today there is a wealth of black British information online, but there is still a lot more to discover.
Some people question the need for Black History Month and accuse sites like blackpresence of being divisive.

We believe that until the contributions of black people and other migrants and their descendants regularly and routinely appears in our history books, School Curriculum and media documentaries as part of British History, as opposed to an afterthought, there will be a need for sites like Blackpresence.

Great examples of Black contribution to British History are, Mary Seacole, Dr Harold Moody, Olaudah Equiano, Walter Tull, Arthur Wharton and Dido Elizabeth Lindsay. Short Biographies can be found on the Blackpresence site.

Owner / Author,Phil Gregory is available for Interviews regarding the website and Black British History.

Web: http://www.blackpresence.co.uk

Twitter: @blackpresence.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/blackpresence
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24881076229

Posted in Black History Month UKComments (0)