Bristol Celebrates Black History Month 2004

By Corinne Field | 29 September 2004
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Shows a photograph of a man and a child with what looks like wooden painted faces slung over their naked backs.

Courtesy of KUUMBA Arts Centre

Black History Month (BHM) is held every October in Britain. Its origins date back to 1926 when Carter G Woodson, editor of the Journal of Negro History, established African Caribbean celebrations in America, where it is celebrated each year in February.

BHM 2004 is a chance to promote black history and experience and highlight positive black contributions to British society. Cities across the UK are taking part in over 1400 events.

Bristol has a diverse black history of its own and is hosting events from drama workshops for kids at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum to jazz at the KUUMBA Arts Centre.

Shows a photograph of a group of young children of various ethnic backgrounds, looking up ata display in the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol.

The slavery galleries at the British and Commonwealth Museum. Courtesy of the British and Commonwealth Museum

This year the organisers of the council run events have decided to follow a theme. Derrick Anderson, Race Equalities Officer working in the Equalities and Social Inclusion Team at Bristol City Council, said: "We’re concentrating this year on women and girls. We wanted the City Council to celebrate the achievements and contributions of black women in British society."

Inspired by International Women’s Day last year when a number of Bristol women got awards for work in their communities, Derrick hopes this year’s themed events will give black women and girls role models and open up opportunities for mentoring.

One of the mentoring schemes he has in mind is a council-run initiative called Operation Black Vote, which will be publicised at the council’s main event to celebrate this year’s BHM on October 30.

The scheme aims to encourage more participation in public life from members of the black and ethnic minority community in Bristol.

The event at The Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel will include exhibitions of art and literature from black and minority ethnic women, as well as a screening of the Oral History Project film by the St Paul’s Elders Group.

For more information about Bristol’s council-run Black History Month events contact Derrick Anderson on 0117 922 2663 or email derrick_Anderson@bristol-city.gov.uk.

Shows a photograph of a woman, on the left, wearing a purple and gold dress. She is standing next to a man, on the right, wearing a pale coloured shirt. They are in a chapel.

Guy Grannum and Pat Green © Oxfordshire Record Office

Other highlights this October include a series of drama workshops at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum. Using games, drama, video and music, children are being given chance to work with professional actors to examine issues surrounding the slave trade.

On October 6 the museum is holding a lecture by novelist Dr Mike Phillips who will be talking about Black History Month and the need for such an event. For more information about what is going on at the museum call 0117 925 4980 or email: education.admin@empiremuseum.co.uk.

Shows a photograph of the St Paul's mural in Bristol. It depicts a cityscape with a tall church tower rising from rows of coloured houses and office blocks, under a bright blue sky.

The St Paul's mural, by Gloria Ojulari Sule

The Bristol Record Office is hosting talks throughout the month including Minority Report by Madge Dresser on October 9 from 6.30 to 7.30pm. This is an opportunity to get an insight into the diverse communities of Bristol and how they originated in the city.

On October 19 from 6.30 to 7.30pm you can find out about The Black Population of Bristol in the 18th Century with Pip Jones and Rita Youseph.

Or how about Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors with Guy Grannum, who works at the National Archives, on October 26 between 6.30 and 7.30pm. He will give his audience a personal account of how he traced his ancestry to Barbados and will offer advice to others wanting to trace their own roots.

Skeletons is the macabre subject of John Penny’s talk at the Record Office on October 13 between 6.30 and 7.30pm. In 1997 skeletons were found on the transport ship The London wrecked off the coast of Raparee Cove near Ilfracombe in 1796. The skeletons are believed to be the remains of Africans on their way to Bristol to be sold as slaves.

Shows a photograph of a picture of a ship on rough seas.

A picture of The London, a transport ship that sank off the coast of Ilfracombe in 1796. Courtesy Bristol Record Office

On October 14, in the morning, at St Paul’s Library local people can pop in to ask the experts about their own family or local history. Experts include someone from the local studies section of the library, a representative from the museums service and a representative from the Record Office.

To book tickets for all Bristol Record Office talks call 0117 922 4224 or email bro@bristol-city.gov.uk, putting in the subject box: AAC booking. You can also use the automated booking form by visiting www.bristol-city.gov.uk/recordoffice.

Shows a photograph of a man holding out a trumpet. The man is wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses.

Abram Wilson. Courtesy of KUUMBA Arts Centre

A two-day conference is taking place at Wesley College on Henbury Road. It includes a talk about the Holistic Health and Education of the Afrikan Family but is strictly an event for African families. Call 0117 985 0831 for more details.

The KUUMBA Arts Centre is showcasing local talent from the African community and hosting a fashion show on October 1. The following evening Abram Wilson, a trumpet player originally from Arkansas, USA heads a line up of jazz musicians, starting at 9pm. Tickets for the jazz evening cost £6.00/£3.50 conc. For more information or to book tickets to these events call the Arts Centre on 0117 942 1870.

At the end of the month, from October 29 to 31, the ROOM Gallery will be hosting three days of South African films to celebrate the tenth anniversary of democracy in South Africa. Based on a set of film screening that exemplify the developing history of South African cinema through the 20th century, anyone interested should contact Sandie Macrae on 0117 927 3778 or email sandie.macrae@netgates.co.uk.

To find out more about Black History Month in general visit the official website.

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