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Engage with Black History, Culture and Stories – ideas & inspiration

19th December 2020 - 3rd January 2021


Engage with Black History, Culture and Stories

Engage with some of the fantastic resources available to learn from and explore the history, stories and culture of Black people. Here’s some recommendations, which include both serious subject matter as well as joyful celebrations of Black culture.

(Updated 9th December 2020)

  1. Kwanzaa is celebrated worldwide from 26th December to 1st January each year by persons of African heritage. It is a celebration started in the United States in 1966 by Dr Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Africana Studies in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965 as a way of bringing African-Americans together as a community. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase matunda ya kwanza which means first fruits, or harvest, in Swahili and the celebrations include singingstorytelling, poetry reading, African drumming, dancing and feasting. The seven-day celebration is guided by seven principles or Nguzo Saba that represent African culture while building and reinforcing communities.
  2. BBC iPlayer has a new drama anthology being released in Autumn 2020, Small Axe which comprises of five original films, all with wonderful soundtracks. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant racism and discrimination. The title is derived from an African proverb, which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”. Find out more about the first film, Mangrove and also read Ashley John-Baptiste’s illustrated blog  The Mangrove Nine: Echoes of black lives matter from 50 years ago.
  3. No list of talent would be complete without our resident poet Myrle Roach, who we are delighted to have recently welcomed to the Made With Many team. Hear Myrle on Youtube, performing poetry from her book Tamarind Seeds at this year’s virtual Caribbean Literary Festival, watch Mother’s Denial (a poem for the Windrush Generation), or read Myrle’s poem about strong Black women, Celebrating the History of Her-Story.
  4. The National Theatre‘s new podcast, That Black Theatre Podcast, will look at Black British theatre-making past, present and future. It launched on 28th September 2020 and the first series will have 12 weekly episodes.  The hosts will delve into the Black Plays Archive, to celebrate the leaders of Black British theatre in the context of the socio-political events that influenced their work.
  5. Rudeboy is a film about the origins and ongoing love affair between Jamaican and British Youth culture. A film that explores the power of music to break down cultural barriers and change lives and the eventual birth of a modern multicultural society – all told through the prism of one the most iconic record labels in history, Trojan Records.  Definitely one for fans of the late and great Toots Hibbert.
  6. From 1st October – December 31st Past Futures present The Sounds of Croydon: From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy, an online exhibition that will take you on a musical journey following the stories of Croydon’s most successful musicians from fusing Western classical music with the rhythmic beats of Africa, to rave, dubstep and grime.
  7. Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street festival with it’s origins in the late 50s and features spectacular costumes, steel drum bands, calypso and soca music, as well as reggae, ska, dancehall, funk, rare groove, hip hop, jungle and drum & bass. In August Bank Holiday weekend this year, Carnival went online – you can still explore the videos and music playlists on the Access All Areas section of their website.
  8. Recordings of 30 world-class National Theatre Live productions are now available for educational institutions to stream at home. UK state-funded teachers and pupils can access the collection for free, including Small Island and Les Blancs, which are recommended viewing on the Black History Month website.
  9. Avid readers might like The Color Purple by Alice Walker and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which you can borrow as e-books or e-audiobooks from Northamptonshire Libraries via BorrowBox.
  10. History lovers may also like exploring Northamptonshire Black History Association’s website or Facebook as they have been finding, sharing and preserving Northamptonshire Black History for more than two decades, as well as hosting regular community events and creating educational resources.
  11. BBC iPlayer also has a new Black & British collection where you can find some brilliant thought-provoking programmes, such as Noughts + Crosses which turns racism on it’s head through a vision of a parallel world, as well as Sitting in Limbo, a drama inspired by the Windrush scandal, (there is a pre-watershed version you can watch with children) as well as a cracking soundtrack available on BBC Sounds. You can also find on BBC iPlayer The Unwanted Secret Windrush Files, a documentary by the historian David Olusoga.
  12. Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a book by Alex Haley, which follows the story of an African man sold to slavery and his descendants. It was first dramatised in the 1970’s and was recently readapted as a mini-series in 2016.
  13. BBC Sounds also has some great music documentaries, such as Black Music in Europe which tracks the early recordings of black music and explores a rare archive of early jazz, blues and spirituals from the early 1900s which has had a long-lasting impact on modern music.
  14. In the early 20th century on the other side of the pond there was a cultural movement called the Harlem Renaissance, which may be of interest if you enjoy Art History as it inspired huge advancements in art, music and literature in the 1930s.
  15. Head on over to DJ Kool Herc‘s website to learn all about the birth of Hip Hop and breakdancing.
  16. The Black Cultural Archives is a national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. They have a special online exhibition for Windrush Day – Windrush Waves 2020 where they present a series of activities from podcasts to storytelling to learning resources about a significant part of British history. Windrush Day happens on 22nd June each year to celebrate the contribution of people from the Caribbean to the UK – find out more about this day at www.windrushday.org.uk
  17. The V&A Museum have curated a selection of photographs taken by black photographers, from the Black Cultural Archives collection which document the lives of black people in Britain between the 1950s – 90s along with accompanying oral histories.
  18. Race Act 40 is a Northamptonshire REC oral history project, based in Wellingborough that recorded the stories of local people including their experiences of racism and their efforts to promote racial equality that was created to mark 40 years of The Race Relations Act 1976.
  19. You can listen to Bonnie Greer’s In Search Of Black History podcast on Audible (they have a 30 day free trial available). Bonnie is also involved in conversations with The British Museum about the ‘Era of Reclamation’.
  20. Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum has lots of collections, some of which you can access online – you can learn all about the transatlantic slave trade as well as accessing a wealth of links to lots of other resources.
  21. Netflix now has a whole section dedicated to Black Lives Matter which is a treasure trove of enlightening, inspiring and sometimes harrowing stories such as When They See Us which is an absolutely gripping drama based on a true story.
  22. History.com hosts a very comprehensive Black History timeline from 1619 onwards and there are many museums around the world which host artefacts and resources relating to black history and culture, such as The Apartheid Museum and Iziko Museums in South Africa, The Museum of Modern Art of Algiers, The Smithsonian, The British Museum, as well as a wealth of resources on Google Arts & Culture.
  23. Arts Council England have published The Creative Lowdown – a special edition to mark the start of Black History Month. They have lots of ideas to engage with Black History Month this year, from talks and workshops to exhibitions and showcases.
  24. Hear Wellingborough Artist Marvin Mudzungo’s poem Theology of Hate, written for National Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020.
  25. Explore Museumand, the National Caribbean Heritage Museum, dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the Caribbean contribution to life in Nottingham and the UK.
  26. Black History Month 2020 has even more events, stories, music, videos and resources for the whole month of October (and indeed all year round) to explore. You can also find even more content by following on FacebookTwitter or hashtags #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackHistoryMonthUK#BlackHistoryMonth2020.

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19th December 2020
January 3
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