Black Organising in the UK: Caribbean homes, Black joy and resistance

Wed, 28 April 2021 19:00 – 20:30 BST

Online event in the series Radical Voices: Delving into the sound archives of Guyanese-born activists and publishers Jessica & Eric Huntley.

Since their first arrival in the UK in 1969, Guyanese-born activists and publishers Jessica and Eric Huntley worked tirelessly to create spaces of Black resistance. Their archive shows what life was like for Black communities in the 1960s, and also the ways in which the Huntleys trailblazed home-based sites of Black joy through music, culture, art, community organising and religion.

This event brings together today’s cultural trailblazers to explore the often untold legacy of Black Homes as akin to community centres in the UK. The panel will explore the Caribbean home in the UK as a community museum, and look at ancestral links to the African continent, reflecting on the continuation of the collective community tradition and the oral storytelling tradition. Participants will listen to newly digitised audio archives of the Huntleys and their publishing house Bogle-L’Ouverture, to consider Black-centered and decolonised cultural production in the arts and literary scene.

This event is the second in a series of three online educational events by the London Metropolitan Archives Radical Voices: Yesterday – Today. Delving into the sound archives of Guyanese-born activists and publishers Jessica & Eric Huntley. London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) holds the documents of Jessica and Eric Huntley, radical book publishers and pioneering Black political activists, prolifically involved with the British African – Caribbean community’s experience. Audio from these archives has been recently digitised by the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project at LMA.

Three guest curators unpack these archives, bringing together high-profile public figures including academic Kehinde Andrews, online influencer Mikai McDermott and dub poet Mutabaruka, to listen to extracts from the audio archives and relate them to the pressing issues of the day. Themes include exclusion of Black students in education, Black organising in the UK, and decolonising language. The events, aimed at 18-34 year olds, will be free of charge and take place online. Each event will be subtitled. The hashtag for the event series is #RadicalVoices21.

Ife Thompson is an award-nominated UK-based Community organiser, United Nations Fellow, Black History Expert, Barrister and Writer. She curates projects that showcase truthful, intergenerational and accurate narratives of Africa and the African diaspora both globally and locally. She has a particular interest in mapping ways in which Black people have resisted through the maintaining and readapting cultures and customs from the African continent within the diaspora.

Aleema Gray is Community History Curator at the Museum of London and PhD candidate at Warwick University. Her research is funded by the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies and uncovers a community-engaged history of the Rastafari movement in England. Aleema’s work focuses on documenting Black British history through the perspective of lived experiences. Her practice is driven by a concern for more historically contingent ways of understanding the present, especially in relation to notions of belonging, memory and contested heritage.

Zerritha Brown is a Cultural Producer and Arts Manager with 20 years’ experience in community/participatory arts and large scale events. She led on the production of the Brent 2020 No Bass Like Home digital archive and online festival, capturing the borough’s Reggae history through community stories and the 2018 Brent Windrush 70 exhibition, co-produced with the community. A Clore Leadership Programme Alumni, she is passionate about engagement which effects lasting change.

Mikai McDermott is a digital content creator, business owner and historian with over 2 million YouTube followers. Her research interests include 20th century Caribbean history. She regularly writes and unpacks hidden narratives and stories from the caribbean islands and images in critical dialogue about whiteness and its intersect on race, beauty and womens politics.

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