Black History Month 2009 - Culture24 picks some highlights

By Alice Burton | 09 October 2009
Children holding African style masks they have made

The International Slavery Museum has many activities for children

October is Black History Month, which celebrates the accomplishments of men and women from African and Caribbean descent who have made society what it is today. There are many events happening up and down the country so Culture24 have rounded up some of the best activities for the whole family to enjoy.

International Slavery Museum, Liverpool
The International Slavery Museum, which opened two years ago to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, is hosting a series of talks, family activities and discussions throughout October.

Three informal lectures take place on Sunday October 4, 11 and 25 highlighting many different subjects including black heritage, great African men and women, and politics.

There are also art and music workshops taking place throughout October including drumming, mask making and woodcarving. Visit the International Slavery Museum website for more details.

Sutton House, Hackney, London
Sutton House, the 500-year-old mansion in Hackney, pays tribute to influential black men and women throughout October and November. From Thursday to Sunday visitors can experience the lives of eight significant black people using music, costumes and historical research. The trail features music by Samuel Coleridge Taylor and recordings of actors playing Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano.

A temporary exhibition by children from nearby schools will also be free for visitors. The exhibition, called My Music, features images of the children learning about and creating their own steelpan and tabula music inspired by India and the Caribbean. If you want to have a go playing the steelpan or tabula, come along to one of the workshops where Geddes Yates and Yousuf Ali will reveal the wonder of these instruments.

A Caribbean man showing children how to play the steelpan

Families can learn to play the steelpan at Sutton House. © Sutton House

Open, Norwich
Norfolk Black History Month starts out on October 2 with the official launch. The evening function will feature live jazz from Pete LeTanka and comedy from duo Jefferson & Whitfield. There will be tasty Caribbean food on offer, and the guest speaker is Paulette Randall, one of the leading female black directors in Britain.

There are many other events taking place around Norfolk throughout October to celebrate the many centuries of black presence in the county. These include lectures, talks, African markets, music performances and workshops from black hair care to Egyptian drumming. For full listings, visit Norfolk Black History Month website.

The National Gallery, London
On October 15, as part of their ongoing lunchtime talks series, The National Gallery will be hosting a talk entitled Black and Gold. The talk will look into the lives of the subjects of two of the gallery’s paintings, Reynolds’ Colonel Tarleton and Gainsborough’s The Byram Family, and their role in the slave trade.

Painting of a man in milatary uniform

Sir Joshua Reynolds, Colonel Tarleton, 1782. © National Gallery, London

Southampton City Art Centre, Southampton
October 1 saw the launch of Black History Month activities in Southampton, starting with the opening of the Black Gold exhibition at the City Art Gallery. Three graduates from Solent University have been commissioned to take a series of portraits of important black people in the community.

Throughout October in the City Council Civic Centre, there will be an exhibition celebrating The Deanery School, the first purpose-built mixed race school in the area. The exhibition displays photographs and artefacts from former pupils of the school, looking back at their fond memories. Open Monday – Friday.

Claughton Youth and Community Centre, Dudley
On October 22 there will be a diabetes and healthy living event in partnership with Diabetes UK. This free event will provide lots of information about diabetes, a disorder which many people from African Caribbean backgrounds suffer. The free event will include hand massages, healthy food, henna tattoos and performances.

Dudley Council is holding many other activities for Black History Month, including quizzes and a steel band performance at the city’s libraries. Visit the Council website for more details.

Portrait of black woman

Dreda Say Mitchell. Courtesy Lewisham Council

The Albany, Lewisham, London
Lewisham Council have always hosted many events celebrating Black History Month and this year is no exception. With talks, activities and workshops happening every day, there are so many events to keep the whole family entertained this October and through November.

Libraries around Lewisham are hosting many book readings by inspirational black authors. Roger Robinson talked about his new publication Suckle on October 1, and Dreda Say Mitchell will announce Geezer Girls on November 24, both at Lewisham Library.

The Albany is hosting a range of musical, spoken word and comedy performances in collaboration with Black History Month. On October 14 they will be showing a selection of short films made over the summer by local filmmakers. The session will also feature director Q&As with the directors and talks from media industry professionals.

On October 17, there will be a production of Love Sax and All That Jazz, a theatrical production incorporating music, drama comedy and spoken word exploring various aspects of love and relationships written by MOBO nominated artist Alan Charles. For the full list of events in Lewisham, visit the Council website.

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