More than Words: 50 years of Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing
Celebrating half a century of writings, books, activism and community
Keynote address: Professor Carolyn Cooper, University of the West Indies, MONA, Jamaica
Annual Huntley Conference 2019
In its 50th year, the influence of Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing (BLP) continues to extend across the Diaspora. With the 14th annual Huntley conference, we pay tribute to its founders and esteemed contributors who will share their memories and talk about the significant treasures that are found in the archives. BLP was established as one of the first Black publishing companies with its first publication, the signature Groundings with my Brothers (1969) written by the renowned academic, activist and influential author, Dr. Walter Rodney. The BLP bookshop, one of the first in the UK was eventually renamed after Rodney was brutally assassinated in 1980 in Jamaica. Delivering the keynote address is Professor Carolyn Cooper, literary critic and cultural analyst, the author of two influential books on Jamaican popular culture, Sound Clash and Noises in the Blood; and the editor of Global Reggae.
Professor Carolyn Cooper
Why you must attend
Join us to unpick the publishing scene back then, meeting Black writers, poets, artists and activists, who discuss the challenges they proudly overcame, the flowering of their newly-found creativity – writings often revered as a form of political resistance. What was it like to be hitting the publishing market in the wake of cultural change? As migrant communities fought to have their voices heard, their profoundly powerful stories cut through a deeply prejudiced society. Hear about the radical initiatives to enrich the educational systems and improve the life chances for a generation of young Black people. We will hear more than words, from across today’s generations as we juxtapose the ways present-day writers find their voice and reach their audiences.
The conference themes once again breathe life into the many important works that are found in the Huntley Archives: learn how BLP supported new writers to get started; how to become a ‘published’ author; shared creative ways to reach audiences; the role of the bookshop; the place for activism, radicalism, and of course the power of campaigning for human rights in defining voice and shaping identity. Contributors will include several writers of the authors whose first editions were published by BLP.
By the sixties, Britain was undergoing a massive cultural renaissance, influenced by the rise of youth and popular culture, visible fight for stories of migration to emerge from outside their communities, of new socialist enterprise, the rise of post-colonial nation states, whose hard-won independence permeated the news. and the narratives of their cultural background and wider communities dissipate. Remember, this was a combative period as the British landscape was tremoring under another transformative period of migration – just after the Rivers of Blood speech by Enoch Powell – which is somewhat removed from the diversity dystopia of the 21st century. As one of the few commercial publishers with community activism at its heart, BLP pioneered the critical value of radical thought leadership in influencing a new post-war Britain, to carve pathways and make room for migrant communities. The net impact was to have a deepening of confidence in claiming and shaping identity for those living in the Diaspora, through the publication of books, stories and addressing critical issues that reflected alternative voices and different perspectives. Eric and Jessica Huntley saw the power of activism and representation in giving authority to arriving communities to find their own voice. At the heart of BLP’s enterprises was the Bogle L-Ouverture Bookshop in West London, (later renamed Walter Rodney Bookshop), a communal and organising space “a beacon of light” from which several important campaigns to combat racism, discrimination and the proactive education development programmes to support young people were launched. BLP publications include influential titles like How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Dr Walter Rodney. Linton Kwesi Johnson, Beryl Gilroy, Andrew Salkey, Valerie Bloom, Robin Walker and many others.
50 years later? Well, we have only scratched the surface in unlocking the depths and complexities of these themes around sense of place, authority, identity and belonging, topically fully evident as Britain tackles its own racial disharmony/harmony balance and tries to find its place in the new world order.
What we want you to know…
Each year, the conference celebrates and focuses on the many aspects of Eric and Jessica’s work, alongside their peer pioneering activists. Our powerful idea is to recall the legacy of the publishing house’s wider influences, consider the numerous fiction and non-fiction books published by BLP and new writers’ careers it launched, examine its many contributions in providing opportunities for academics, poets, visual artists, and the home it provided for community and political activism. Researching the treasures found in the Huntley Archives, one can clearly discover that BLP symbolises a range different expressions of radical thinking, across different cultures and communities. What is consistently handed down, is a heritage of strong, creative determination that ensures that all people, young and older can be seen, heard, their Blackness made visible and celebrated to represent a positive impact in our society today.
Participants are actively invited to contribute throughout the day. Contact us if you want to join in. Bogle L-Ouverture publications will be on sale for all ticket holders. Exhibition tables are on sale for booksellers and the promotion of cultural merchandise.
Light refreshments and snacks are provided; however, everyone is welcome to bring a packed lunch or to pop out during the break to visit the many street food stalls or local eateries, just 2 minutes away. Here’s a link to Exmouth Market restaurants
Programme Highlights (timings are approximate and subject to change)
Doors open 10. 30 am
Sign up for an Archive Tour (tours start at 13.00pm and 13.45 each lasting 30 minutes)
Browse and shop at our Book fair/Stalls Networking
Conference running order
10.45 am Welcome and Introductions Sally Bevan, LMA; Beverley Mason, Makeda Coaston, Co-producers, FHALMA
Morning session 11.00 am – 13.00 pm
More than Words Treasures, Memories and Influences
11.00 am Conference Opening Speaker: “The Early Days of Bogle L’Ouverture: Publishing, Politics and Memories” An introduction by Errol Lloyd
11.20 am “The Black Cultural Lexicon: Leadership, Campaigns and Radicalism” Panel with Q&A, with Morgan Dalphinis, Leila Hassan, Waveney Harris, Errol Lloyd
12.30 pm In conversation
“The Black Bookshop is the Place for Me” Reflections, Memories and Treasures from the Bogle L’Ouverture / Walter Rodney Bookshop Days. With Michelle Yaa Asantewa, talking to Steven Lewis and Sharon Walters
Lunch time break 13.00 – 14.20pm
Activities: Archive Tours, Films, Book Fair, Interviews
Afternoon session 14.20 pm – 16.45 pm
14.20 pm – 14.30 pm David Baldwin, LMA talks about the British Library archive project, Unlocking our Shared Heritage
14.30 pm VIP Guest Keynote Speaker
Professor Carolyn Cooper, MONA, University of the West Indies, Introduced by Margaret Busby,
15.30 pm – A Cultural Celebration of Spirit and Soul:
With special guests, including…
People Who Have Changed The World (and other readings) performed by the young members, WAPPY who is celebrating its 10th anniversary
Hannibal Diaspora, featuring award winning flautist, Keith Waithe and the Macusi Players, joined by legendary spoken word artist, Sandra Agard.
16.15 pm Closing Remarks, Eric Huntley, BLP founder and publisher
16:30 pm Conference Ends
Timings and topics are subject to change. Please check details on the final conference programme
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