Event: We Will Remember Them Exhibition

William Robinson Clarke WW1 RAF pilot from Jamaica, photo courtesy of the Royal Aero club

LAUNCH EVENT:

Friday 22nd September 6:30pm

New Art Exchange

39-40 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham NG9 6BE

The We Will Remember Them project, funded by the Centre for Hidden Histories, aims to uncover hidden narratives that will strengthen the coverage of under-represented groups in relation to the centenary of the Great War. Empire troops fought in the most infamous battles of the war, including at Ypres and Passhendaele, but the hidden histories of soldiers from the Caribbean and South Asia still need to be recovered and their stories told, not only in scholarly monographs but in other cultural forms too.  Consequently, this project aims to ensure that we try to avoid the real risk that younger generations will conceive of the war as fought entirely by white soldiers.

The research output has been constituted in the form of a travelling exhibition which will facilitate the general public becoming (more) aware of the courage, sacrifice and stories of “Commonwealth” soldiers. The exhibition will tour the East Midlands and London and will launch at New Art Exchange on the 22nd September.

Following the launch, the exhibition will travel to the following venues:

  • 25th-29th September Nottm. County Hall, West Bridgeford NG2 7QP
  • 2nd-5th October Clifton Cornerstone, Southchurch Drive, Clifton NG11 8EW
  • 6th-12th October Bulwell Riverside, Main Street NG6 8QL
  • 12th-18th October Mary Potter Centre, 76 Gregory Blvd. NG7 5YH
  • 18th-23rd October Nottm. Central Library, Angel Row NG1 6HP
  • 23rd-26th October Nottm. City Council, Loxley House, Station Street NG2 3NG
  • 27th October-1st November St Anns Valley Centre, 2 Livingston Rd NG3 3GG

Please contact nottinghamblackarchive@gmail.com for more information.

This project is delivered in association with Renaissance One

Study and Community Events: Leeds, October 2016

Study and Community Events: Leeds, October 2016

On 21st and 22nd October, the Centre was very pleased to support a pair of events in partnership with Leeds City Museum. The events, which were held as part of Black History Month, were designed to examine histories and perspectives that are often overlooked.

The Study Day
The Study Day

On the Friday, a study day, entitled ‘Global Perspectives on World War One, was held at the museum. Papers were presented from a variety of speakers on a wide range of topics including how Black Soldiers and the wider African and Caribbean communities helped Britain during two World Wars, the life of Leeds Pal, Private Jogendra Sen, Chinese Perspectives on the Great War and female nurses’ relationships with non-white soldiers.

Staff from the National Archives, provided insights into the material that they hold on West Africa and South Asia and discussed the challenges of researching this area of the war and the value of examining the war through the themes loyalty and dissent.

On the Saturday, the museum opened its magnificent Broderick Hall for a community day called ‘Peoples’ Pathways: Soldiers from Overseas in World War One’. This event was largely performance-based, with music, spoken word and interactive talks.

Russell Smith as 2nd Lt Walter Tull
Russell Smith as 2nd Lt Walter Tull

Community historian Jahan Mahmood brought items from his travelling military museum and gave an illuminating talk on Muslim perspectives on the war. Russell Smith performed a monologue in character as Walter Tull, footballer and British Army officer and the event was rounded off with a beautiful performance of the World War One inspired Sacred Songs by Alchemy and SAA UK.

The topics were intentionally varied but nevertheless a few connecting themes emerged. One was the sheer range of stories that can be told about the war; so many that it’s possible to see the First World War not as one conflict, but many. It is important to reflect on these multiple ways of seeing history, not least because it confirms the value in having so many people take the time to explore the aspect of the war that most interests them.

Another theme to emerge was the depth of history required to even begin exploring the war. Most of the sessions examined histories with connections to the histories of empire and colonialism. Any thorough reflection of the global First World War must necessarily begin with the history of the European empires and the patterns of movement and control that developed way before 1914. So too is the history of Black and Asian people in Britain. This is also a long-term history and one that supports the view that the First World War is but a moment in a far longer set of stories about how people, willingly or otherwise, come together and find themselves sharing a common, albeit distinctive, histories.

400 years of Caribbean Contribution to British Heritage and Culture

IMAG2584This week I visited the 400 Years of Caribbean Contribution to British Heritage and Culture exhibition at Solihull Central Library. It is a fine collection of images and information about the role played by people from the Caribbean and people of Caribbean heritage, in some of the landmark events in British history.

Much of the exhibition is concerned with military and martial concerns. An early stage depicts a private of the 5th West India Regiment in 1812 while a section entitled black mariners shows an image of a relief mural from the base of Nelson’s Column showing a black seaman.

IMAG2583Naturally, large sections are dedicated to the Second World War and of course, the First, which is what prompted my interest. Much of it is biographical, with pictures, newspaper clippings and poetry dedicated to well known figures such as Walter Tull, and some (undeservedly) less celebrated ones.

Winston Churchill Millington, 1893-1991
Winston Churchill Millington, 1893-1991

Winston Churchill Millington, born in Barbados in 1893, was a member of that particular generation to have been old enough to fight in the First World War and young enough to don a uniform again for the Second. He served in the new British West Indies regiment after working in a school prior to the outbreak of war.

The appeal to men like Millington is illustrated on panels that feature the recruitment techniques used to raise volunteers. This includes general approaches, such as the ‘Empire Needs Men’ poster, as well as direct and focused campaigns, here depicted in a poster appealing to men of the Bahamas.
The exhibition is on display at the Heritage Gallery (Solihull Central Library)  until Friday 31st July 2015.
Admission is free and opening times are: Monday and Thursday 9am – 3pm. Tuesday and Friday 9am – 6pm. Wednesday 10am – 6pm. Saturday 9am – 5pm. Sunday Closed.

Exhibition: 400 Years of Caribbean Contribution to British Heritage and Culture

Screenshot 2015-05-22 14.28.01“Nothing beats stronger than the heart of a volunteer”

The Why Are West Indians (WAWI) Project has announced the launch of their 400 Years exhibition in Solihull.

The exhibition, which runs from the 1st June to the 31st July, aims to provide an insight into why thousands of volunteers from the British-speaking West Indies answered Britain’s call in defence of her Empire.

Their timeline covers: The Napoleonic Wars, the First World War and World War Two, Women at War and the Home Front, concluding with the Poppy and its relevance to all communities.

Venue details:

Solihull Central Library,
Homer Road,
Solihull,
B91 3RG (Near Touchwood Shopping Centre)
The exhibition is free to enter. Opening times are:

Monday & Thursday 9AM – 3PM
Tuesday & Friday 9AM – 6PM
Wednesday 10AM – 6PM
Saturday 9AM – 5PM
Sunday CLOSED