Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Black History Month - British Gospel Music

British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora.

 Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century,[1] with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella.[2] The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby.[3] Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
18th century
Perhaps the most famous gospel-based hymns were composed in the 1760s-1770s by English writers John Newton ("Amazing Grace") and Augustus Toplady ("Rock of Ages"), members of the Anglican Church. Starting out as lyrics only, it took decades for standardized tunes to be added to them. Although not directly connected with African-American gospel music, they were adopted by African-Americans as well as white Americans, and Newton's connection with the abolition movement provided cross-fertilization.

American Gospel strongly influenced the British Gospel Scene with people like Mahelia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey

Listen here to Roy Francis joining the dots on exactly how Gospel music gained prominence in the UK. With over 30 years’ experience within television broadcasting, music and production industry, former producer of BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’ and ground-breaking gospel music series ‘People Get Ready’ shown on Channel 4 in the 1980s.

Gospel Music although a subgenre of black music in the UK today arrived in England in the early post-war years, along with the large-scale immigrant influx and their wide variety of musical tastes. Pioneers in this field include an eight-piece a cappella family group from Trinidad called the Singing Stewarts - 

Oscar Stewart, Ashmore Stewart, Frankie Stewart, Phylis Stewart, Gloria Stewart, Timothy Stewart, Thedore Stewart and Del Stewart - who were the first to appear on a major British record label in the late 1960s. They impressed many English audiences with their unique interpretation of Negro Spirituals and traditional Gospel songs. Based in Birmingham in the Midlands they appeared on numerous radio shows and participated in the prestigious Edinburgh Festival, again increasing awareness of this genre.

In later years and decades when black people began to settle in the UK, groups such as The Doyleys, Paradise, Lavine Hudson and the Bazil Meade-inspired London Community Gospel Choir began to drive the music much further towards the mainstream and out of the comfort zone of the black churches.

The Singing Stewarts are featured in the book British Black Gospel: The Foundations of this vibrant UK sound by Steve Alexander Smith. Huddersfield-born Smith was inspired to write the book after spending time in the USA in the mid 1990s and witnessing the best that Black Gospel could offer.

The book is the world's first to cover the underground British Black gospel scene and is published with a 13-track CD.

Black History Month - British Black Majority Churches

The first Black Majority Church in Europe was Founded in London. This was Sumner Road Chapel founded by Rev Thomas Kwame Brem-Wilson in Peckham in 1906. Rev Brem-Wilson, a business man and school master was born into a wealthy family in Dixcove, Ghana around 1855. He immigrated to Britain in 1901 and founded Sumner Road Chapel known today as Sureway International Christian Ministries in Herne Hill South East London. Rev Brem-Wilson’s Church was an African Pentecostal Church and he was also involved with the origins of the Pentecostal movement in Britain. This was because he was friends with the likes of Alexander Boddy (the Anglican priest that is recognised as the father of British Pentecostalism), Cecil Polhill (one of the pioneers of Pentecostal missionary movement in Britain), D.P. Williams and W.J. Williams (founders of the Apostolic Church in Britain).

The next phase of the history of BMCs in London was the founding of the League of Coloured Peoples’ started by Dr Harold Moody. Although this was not a Church but it functioned as a Para-Church agency that catered for the needs of Black people then. Harold Moody was born in Jamaica in 1882 and he came to London in 1908 to pursue a career in medicine. He studied at Kings College Hospital in London and qualified as a medical Doctor. Frustrated at the lack of opportunity to practice medicine, he turned his attention to the medical needs of Black people in Peckham. To this end, being convinced by his faith, he started the League of Coloured People on 13th of March 1931 at the central YMCA, Tottenham Court Road.

The 1940s and 1950s saw the influx of Caribbean families into the UK due to the invitation of the British government asking them to come and help build the country after the devastations of Second World War. This led to the formation of Caribbean Pentecostal and Holiness Churches. The first of the Caribbean Pentecostal Churches founded in the UK was Calvary Church of God in Christ which started in London in 1948. Others soon followed such as the New Testament Church of God (1953), Church of God of Prophecy (1953), Wesleyan Holiness Church (1958) and New Testament Assembly (1961) to mention a few. The first New Testament Church of God in London was founded in the Hammersmith area in 1959. It was also during the 1950s that the renowned late Guyanese missionary, Phillip Mohabir came as a missionary to Britain. Phillip came in 1956 and started an itinerant ministry in Brixton which included preaching in shops, pubs, on the buses and from house to house. He also planted Churches in London and outside London. He later pioneered the founding of West Indian Evangelical Alliance (WIEA) in 1984. WIEA was later known as The African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) which is now defunct.

The independence of African countries from around 1957 onwards led to African diplomats, students, tourist coming to Britain. When they discovered like the Caribbeans before them that they were rejected by the British Churches and society at large, this led to the founding of African Instituted Churches (AICs) in London. The first of such Churches to be planted was the Church of the Lord (Aladura) planted in 1964 by the late Apostle Adejobi in South London. This Church has its headquarters (HQ hereafter) in Nigeria. Others soon followed such as the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in 1965 (HQ in Nigeria), the Celestial Church of Christ in 1967 (HQ also in Nigeria), Aladura International Church founded by Rev. Father Olu Abiola in 1970. Others include Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) Mount Bethel founded by Apostle Ayo Omideyi in 1974 (HQ in Lagos Nigeria), and Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) of Great Britain in 1976 (HQ in Ibadan Nigeria). The first of the Ghanaian Churches to arrive in England was the Musama Disco Christo Church (MDCC) in London in 1980.

Finally, from around the 1980s and 1990s, there emerged a new type of African Churches, Newer Pentecostal Churches (NPCs). It is the explosive growth of these Churches particularly in the 1990s that has drawn the attention of scholars and currently the media to BMCs. Some of these Churches are Deeper Life Bible Church founded in London in 1985, New Covenant Church, founded in London in 1985/86, The Church of Pentecost founded in London in 1988, The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) founded in London in 1988, Trinity Baptist Church founded in South Norwood in 1988, Christ Faith Tabernacle founded in Deptford, London in 1989, Christian Victory Group founded in London in 1991, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) founded in London in 1992 and many others. Newer generation of Caribbean Pentecostal Churches also started in the 1990s such as Ruach Ministries founded in London in 1994, Christian Life City founded in 1996 in London, Micah Christian Ministries founded in New Cross in 1998 and many more. It is now difficult to estimate the number of BMCs in London as there many not registered as Charities or known. In addition, the problem of using the building of established Churches or using the pastor’s front room also makes it difficult. This means researching into their history could be problematic. On the other hand some of the BMCs like to be known therefore they are making their history available through their websites and other printed media. In addition oral history in the form of testimonies plays a vital role in telling their stories.

See next post for the history of British Gospel Music.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Infrastructure Project

It has been a bit of a mixed bag day today, we started off doing some maths and then started talking about Hospitals as part of our UK infrastructure project.

As we are planning to do some searching in the local archives for some evidence of Black History in Oldham which should be quite a lot as Oldham had the most Cotton Mills in the UK, we thought it would be a good idea to combine this with our Infrastructure Project and look to find evidence of Black People working or patrons of the Local Oldham Hospitals and do some research about the hospitals in Oldham, so mixing the two projects together makes for an interesting topic. We have found the telephone number of the local archives and will be phoning to make an appointment to go down and have a look and see what we can find.

We watched a documentary video and talked about Florence Nightingale and contrasted this with Mary Seacole and looked at the connections Nightingale had with Politicians who were instrumental in Nightingales conquest to change the face of nursing.

Whilst looking at the history of Hospitals we found that the Earliest documented institutions are of Hospitals in Egyptian Temples
Whilst we were looking at the map I mentioned that we could drive from UK right over to the African Continent and his lead onto a conversation about the Channel Tunnel so we spent some time looking at how the Channel Tunnel was created as a collaboration between the French and English, we watched a documentary video about the construction and how it is viewed as one of the 7 wonders of the world and discussed some of the jobs people did working on the tunnel and the problems they faced and solutions they came up with.

Whilst wrapping up the days fun we discussed the common denominator that Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale and the Channel Tunnel have and that is they were solutions to human problems, hence why they are all viewed in such high esteem.

Our infrastructure wall art is coming along nicely and this is what they will be working on for the rest of the week along with some short free form text about what we have been learning.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Black History Month - Black Hair

The British afro Hair Care industry is worth approximately 4.2 billion today, there are 27 British Black Owned Hair Care Brands currently in the UK.

Hair care for blacks over the years for me has been a difficult topic, as a child I had no idea how to look after my hair and spent much of my childhood with a short back and sides or an afro, the only place I could buy black hair products was the Arndale in Manchester and during my late teens spent a lot of time relaxing my hair.

On moving to Hereford I found buying black hair care products extremely difficult and could only buy my hair care products from Gloucester 30 miles away or having a trip to Birmingham, I soon learned that braiding my hair was a better option.

For many years my hair remained braided until I moved back to Manchester where access to black hair care products was much easier and eventually the internet revolution made buying black hair care products as easy as a quick click of a mouse and the range of products overwhelming.

For the past 15 years I have been natural, choosing to stay away form all chemical processes and braiding and just wearing my hair as it comes and felt very comfortable in doing so, as my identity as a black woman has evolved, so has my confidence in having my natural born hair on display.

The history of Black Hair is a contentious issue for blacks and there is a movement called 'Natural Hair Movement', The natural hair movement is focused on encouraging women with African ancestry to celebrate and enjoy the natural characteristics of their kinky, curly, hair texture. 

In the 20th century, hair for Africans represented an individual’s age, ethnicity, religion, social rank and status. Hair was taken groomed for those who understood social standards and implications within the community, as it was significant. 

Going into the African diaspora, Afro hair was usually dressed according to the local culture. For example in the 1960s, the Afro hair was represented as a political statement, it became a symbol for the Black movement  in America and UK. The Afro represented Black power and integration in American and UK political systems. Black women had many Eurocentric features and hairstyles and during the movement the black communities created their own standard of beauty. Hair then became their main icon which was a way of challenging white-dominated mainstream media. During these times Afro hair was distinguishable and an expression of Black pride, thus not supporting societal norms.
Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panthers explains here:-

More can be read about the Black Hair Movement of the 60's here.

To understand this train of thought you have to go back further in history, as I stated further up in this essay, in the 20th Century hair for Africans represented many things amongst them social rank and status so hair was an important part of an Africans identity.

In the 18th Century, British colonists deemed African hair as closer to sheep wool than human hair, setting the precedent that white hair is preferable — or good, a racially charged notion in and of itself. After the emancipation of slavery, many black Americans sought to straighten their hair to fit in. Madame C.J. Walker, the first black female millionaire, made her fortune selling products meant to straighten black hair as a way to help black women get ahead in society by fitting in aesthetically. 

Even today the hatred of black hair goes beyond ignorant comments. In fact, embracing natural hair can lead some women and men to lose their jobs or face punishment at school. In March 2014, the U.S. Army issued a new policy that banned traditional black hairstyles, including cornrows, twists and dreadlocks. The regulations even described these styles “unkempt” and “matted.” After months of backlash and a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reviewed and subsequently rolled back the policy.

This is not confined to USA but also here in UK even recently as September of 2017 (this year) a boy was sent home from school for having Dreadlocks (see here) in January 2017 a woman was reported to have been told she could not have a job in Harrods if her hair was not straightened (see here)
White's have mandated appearance codes for blacks dictating how Black women should wear their for a very long time, the earliest, South Carolina's Negro Act of 1735, specifically set a standard of dress for the enslaved and free African Americans" (ibid. 132). In 1740 amendments, South Carolina's slave code further elaborated the dress regulations (Genovese, 1974:359). In 1786, while Louisiana was a Spanish colony, the governor enacted a dress code which forbade: females of colour to wear plumes or jewelry; this law specifically required their hair bound in a kerchief (Crete, 1981: 80-81; also Gayarre, 1885: 178-179 and Wares, 1981:135). (More info here) 

The Tignon Law

This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced appropriate public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society. At this time in Louisiana history, women of African descent vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. One of their most standout physical attributes that separated them from their white female counterparts was their hair. Women of African descent would often adorn their hair with colorful jewelry, beads and other accents, demonstrating an exotic appearance which attracted the attention of white male suitors. Many of them had become the girlfriends and placées (openly kept mistresses) of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This perceived threat to white women's relationships with French and Spanish Creole men incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. (Wikipedia)

This internalized negative images carried through black generations created from involuntary lives in a white supremacist culture. Some of these codes were so specific that they targeted the types of patterns and clothes that black people were able to wear, citing them as an effort to help newly freed blacks “fit in” with their new environment. All the while, the codes continued to limit the freedom of identity and cultural expression that had been stifled through enslavement.

Throughout the history of Africa, hair has played an important part of the cultures, there are over 2000 distinct ethno-linguistic groups in Africa, the diaspora may be far removed but hold their roots in this important tradition and I feel it is a beautiful thing that despite the oppression and the turbulent journeys these generations of Africans have been forced through down the ages hair is still plays an important if not political role today.

To finish please enjoy this beautiful website of Hair Styles in African Culture (Here)

Black History Month - Mathematicians


During this Black History Month we are currently working on our Maths Techniques so I thought it was apt to write a little about Black Mathematicians.

Whilst I am a stickler for keeping UK Black History Month focused on UK Black History, I will have to stray from this focus for this topic of Black Mathematicians as even though these Black Mathematicians may not have all been from the UK or spent time in the UK, they certainly paved the way for Black Mathematicians today in the UK.

Africa is the home to the Worlds earliest known use of Mathematics and Calculation. Africans were using numerals, algebra and geometry in daily life, this knowledge spread throughout the world after a series of migrations out of Africa beginning around 30,000 BC and later following a series of invasions of Africa by Europeans and Asians (1700-BC- present).

The oldest Mathematical instrument is the Lebombo Bone, this is a baboon fibula used as a measuring device and named after it's location of discovery the Labombo Mountains of Swaziland. The device dates back 35,000 years, judging by its distinct markings it could have been used to track menstrual or lunar cycles or merely just used as a measuring stick.

More can be found out about this early African Maths from The Ta Neter Foundation which brings to light the ancient and medieval History of Africans in Africa.

Whilst we do know that Africa is the birth place of Mathematics and we can pinpoint its origins,  not much is actually known about individual Black Mathematicians before the Greeks who developed maths like  Archimedes a Greek who is known as the greatest mathematician of all time, although it is known that the majority of Greek Mathematicians studied in Egypt.

In modern Mathematics there has been and are some notable Black mathematicians although there has been no Black Winner of  the Fields medal, the "Nobel prize of mathematics" which started in 1936 and non that could match the genius of Carl Friedrich Gauss 1777-1855.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) is often recognized as the first African American mathematician; however, ex-slave Thomas Fuller's (1710-1790) and the Nigerian Muhammad ibn Muhammad's (16??-1741) activities predate Benjamin Banneker. None of these men had formal degrees.

Clifford Victor Johnson (born 5 March 1968 in London) is an English theoretical physicist and professor at the University of Southern California Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education listed Clifford Johnson as the most highly cited black professor of mathematics or a related field at an American university or college.

Katherine Adebola Okikiolu (born 1965) is a British mathematician is known for her work with elliptic differential operators as well as her work with inner-city children.

Elbert Frank Cox (December 5, 1895 – November 28, 1969) was an American mathematician who became the first black person in the world to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics. 

Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890 - 1980), 1st Black Female Mathematics PhD she faced three obstacles in becoming a PhD mathematician. She was female, she was Black and she was in her 50’s.

Ali Mostafa Mosharafa (1898-1950) The first African to earn a Ph.D. from the University of London in 1923 and 1924

David Blackwell  (1919-2010) At the age of 22, becomes the seventh african american to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics (University of Illinois). He may well be the greatest black Mathematician.
J. Ernest Wilkins (1923-2011) At age 19,  becomes the eight african american to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics (University of Chicago). He is certainly one of the greatest black Mathematicians.

Clarence Ellis (1943-2014) is the first African American to earn a Computer Science Ph.D

Abraham Manie Adelstein. (1916-1992) Mathematician, Scientist, Statistician, became became the United Kingdom's Chief Medical Statistician.

There are obviously many more but not as many as there should be to add to this list, especially British Black Mathematicians of which the reasons are discussed in the book Beyond Banneker by Erica Walker.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Its all academic!

Well no, it's not all academic really round here, but we do certainly put some in every now and again, more so lately as I want the twins to be prepared for taking exams when they are coming up to secondary school age.

The initial plan was to home educate until secondary school, if they pass the exam to gain entry into the local Grammar they will begin their school life, if they do not then we will have to work towards GCSE and A Levels by ourselves.

Financially it will be a killer for me to get exams paid for, so Grammar is my best hope, failing that I will have to be scraping the barrel for exam money and working very long hours to afford them, but I do know there are other roads in so I wont worry just yet, what is important is that the twins are able to positively prepare themselves for exams.

We talk a lot about jobs and what they want to do, we go from Paramedics to Vets to Nurses to doctors to police Men to Secret Agents, so there are a lot of options right now but each one has the same thing in common and that is further education and exams.

We have always done some sit down formal learning amongst their autonomous child led learning but we are now starting to ramp things up.

They read everyday and maths has always been a part of life, we do times tables as a game and work on money facts and lengths and measurements, weights etc all throughout the day, everyday things essential to life are taught as we go along about our day and they use Khan Academy regularly, but now we are learning concepts decoding and really understanding those numbers.

To do this we have gone back to the beginning, well not quite the beginning but the level of complex beginnings, that which is beyond the everyday use.

We are starting to revise what we already know but in a sit down academic fashion, we have been using workbooks for this, which they are not too keen on when they start the books but within 10 minutes there is no stopping them.

They find that once they start, what they have already learnt outside academic books is built upon, instead of verbally demonstrating their knowledge they are having to write it down, this has been far more pleasant than I expected.

Olivia is very keen, she speeds along with the maths, Oliver is less keen, not that he struggles but he sweats about the small stuff, Oliver is very pedantic in his manner anyway and due to this I have decided to throw in some various maths techniques.

Oliver is impatient yet very meticulous, he gets bored very easily particularly when he cannot do something as fast as he wants to, so I think trying a few different techniques to see which one suits him better will get us better results.

We are starting with throwing in some Vedic Maths. Vedic maths has application in Finance and Information Technology, Vedic mathematics brings quick solutions to tricky calculations

Vedic maths is the world’s easiest way to solve maths problems — and a great way of getting over the maths phobia that several children, and even adults, suffer from.

I think Oliver will enjoy maths much better once we get stuck in with some Vedic maths as it will suit his impatience.

You can find our more about Vedic Mathematics from Wikibooks here and you can pick up some Vedic mathematics books from ebay here

Vedic Mathematics" refers to a technique of calculation based on a set of 16 Sutras, or aphorisms, as algorithms and their upa-sutras or corollaries derived from these Sutras. Its enthusiasts advance the claim that any mathematical problem can be solved mentally with these sutras.

We have been mixing this up a little and we have started by going back to basics and re-learning place value, partitioning and rounding in an academic way, as although they can do it verbally in conversation they have never really experienced doing it on an academic level, working in tens is giving them a good starting confidence as they are very confident in working with 10's, so that is a great start.

So far we are enjoying what we are doing, lets see how long the enthusiasm lasts!...


Monday, 2 October 2017

Black History Month - Post Card History of Blacks in Britain

I love reading about the history of blacks in Britain, I come across all sorts of interesting bits of information, this website is one of my very favourites.

Created and researched by Historian Jeffrey Green based in South London, Jeffrey chronicles the life and times of Blacks in Britain from Andrew Bogle 1802-1877 a servant at the household of the Tichborne family and played a major part in one of the longest and most controversial trials of the 19th century, to people such as Robert Branford, 1817-1869 who was a: London police superintendent, amongst the many others detailed in 180 separate entries of life in Britain for Blacks..

Jeffrey Green offers a fascinating detailed insight into the lives of Blacks living  in Britain. Click on the picture above to find out more.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has published over thirty of his articles, and he has contributed to several American reference works 

Some of my personal favourites within the stories are:-

H. E. Lewis, “the Negro Mesmerist” 1850-1857

Sir Samuel Lewis (1843-1903)  

Dr J. J. Brown of Hackney (1882-1953)

They tell a fascinating tale of what life was like in earlier eras, how people lived in ways we would not expect from what we have been taught about history.

These well researched articles show us life lived up and down the country of ordinary people living extraordinary lives!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Black History Month 2017

Black history month 2017 is upon us here in UK, this falls in October as opposed to Black History Month in USA which takes place in February. I generally cringe when this time of the year comes around. Not because I don't like the month, but because I love the month. The month is very revealing of current attitudes within society that ironically reinforce the continued importance of Black History Month.

October is a month of negative attitudes and bigoted comments that always surface during this time which always make me cringe and shows clearly why we certainly do still need to celebrate black history month. Carter G Woodson  and Akyaaba Addai-Sebo reasons for starting Black History Month in their former formats are as relevant now as they where back in 1926 and 1987 when they started.

Historian Carter G Woodson was the creator of USA Negro History Week in 1926, himself a son of former slaves, a poor autodidact who went on to become a head teacher, political activist, Author, African American Historian amongst many other intellectual titles.

As noted in Wikipedia:-
Woodson noted that African-American contributions "were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them."[16] Race prejudice, he concluded, "is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind."[16]
In 1926, Woodson pioneered the celebration of "Negro History Week",[17] designated for the second week in February, to coincide with marking the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.[18] However, it was the Black United Students and Black educators at Kent State University that founded Black History Month, on February 1, 1970.[19] Six years later Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."[20]
It was not until 1987 that Black History Month was first celebrated in London, United Kingdom. It was organized through the leadership of Ghanaian analyst Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, who had served as a coordinator of special projects for the Greater London Council (GLC) he created a collaboration to get it underway.

The inspiration for this came from his recognition of the failure within society of
such which made a child question his identity as an African or being black within UK society. The full fascinating interview and story can be found here (akyaaba addai sebo interview)

Black History month being in October has a few significant meanings:-
Addai-Sebo states in his interview:-
We decided on October as the month to celebrate black history because apart from its significance within the African calendar - the period of the autumn equinox in Africa - October is consecrated as the harvest period, the period of plenty, and the period of the Yam Festivals. It was the time in history when Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia for example were the cradle and breadbasket of civilisation. October is also a period of tolerance and reconciliation in Africa, when the chiefs and leaders would gather to settle all differences. This was also the time to examine one's life in relation to the collective and to see if the targets set for oneself and the group during the past year had been achieved or not. You know that Africa gave the world the calendar. Our ancestors built the Pyramids, knowing about mathematics, architecture and astronomy. October was therefore chosen because of these factors. Black history Month is a reconnection with our source.
This October we will see many lists of great black pioneers and influencers the most common that make the list are Nelson Mandela, Mary Seacole, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Marcus Garvey.

I want to give my top 10 celebrated heroes an airing too, so here is my list of my great Black British Influences;-

Lionel Ngakane - Born in Pretoria he created a film against a background media narrative suggesting ever-worsening racial tensions, Jemima + Johnny offered a refreshingly optimistic take on black/white relations in a post-riots Notting Hill. Jemima + Johnny won its director an award at the 1966 Venice Film Festival, the first black British film to be so honoured. The Film can be watched here in its entirety here

Ambrose Adekoya Campbell - Born in Lagos Nigeria, is credited with forming Britain's first ever black band, the West African Rhythm Brothers, in the 1940s. One of his last interviews was conducted by Nigel Williamson of Guardian in 2006, 6 months before Campbell's death. You can read his fascinating story here

Pastor G. Daniel Ekarte - Born in Nigeria opened orphanages for the rejected mixed race children or the then term of 'mongrels' resulting from the American GI and white women of Liverpool during the first world war, you can read more about his amazing work here

Francis Williams - Born in 1702 in Jamaica, William’s successes in mathematics and verse earned him recognition amongst his supporters. At the same time, there were deep prejudices held against him, against the colour of his skin, that would prevent him from taking up his deserved place in science and society. Read more here

Cyril Lionel Robert James (C.L.R.JAMES) - Born in 1901 James was a Historian, Socialist, Journalist.  His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts.. You can find out more about him here

Stuart Hall - Born in 1932 Hall was a Jamaican-born Marxist cultural theorist, political activist and sociologist who lived and worked in the United Kingdom from 1951. You can watch the BBC video of Stuart Hall in his own words here

Dame Shirley Bassey - Born in 1937 Dame Shirley Bassey had a turbulent start to life (find out more here) her rags to riches fame is well deserved, she is multi award winning and generous philanthropist. (find some of her charity work here)

Margaret Busby OBE - Born 1944 Busby is a writer and editor who was also the UK's youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby (find out more about her here)

Dr John Alcindor - Born 1873 Alcindor attended medical school in Edinburgh, graduating with first-class honours in 1899. He worked in many hospitals and in 1907 established his own practice in Paddington, one of the first black general practices in the UK. He was instrumental in the formation of the Pan African Congress (Find out more here)

Mary Prince - Born 1788 The first known British Black Woman to recount her narrative of slavery, Prince was recognised as a national hero of Bermuda, her narrative had a galvanizing effect on the anti slavery movement (learn more here)

Finally as a bonus and a tribute to the late James Berry, a pioneer poet from the Windrush generation, who sadly passed away June 2017. (see more about him here)

James Berry What do we do with a variation from CLPE on Vimeo.

More to follow throughout October....

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Shakespear Macbeth

We ventured to the twins first ever experience of a full Shakespeare play, a full 2.5 hours of Macbeth.

This production, filmed at the original Liverpool Everyman stars celebrated stage and screen actor, David Morrissey in the title role and Julia Ford as Lady Macbeth.

This was a bit of a gamble on my part but the digital screening was a free event at the Library so I thought we could leave if they got too bored, but to my surprise they lasted the whole performance.

Oliver was more interested than Olivia was, she spent quite a lot of time drawing and took notice to bits and pieces of the play. Oliver was more engaged and spent most of the time actually watching it to my surprise.

I think the London trip had some influence on that result as they had seen the Shakespeare Globe Theatre and seeing this in the flesh has given them a boost in interest of Shakespeare.

I asked them when we came out if they understood what the play was about and we had a chat about the plot and some scenes that were happening throughout the play, they both said it was boring but they enjoyed it, there were quite a few people who left throughout and never got to the end of the play, I do have to say it wasn't a great adaptation of Macbeth but I still enjoyed it and the kids said they would go to another performance, so win win all round really.

They both said that the play was much better than my Othello reading in the kitchen with my silly voices that I submit them to on occasion when I am in one of my crazy moods, I have to disagree and think my Othello readings are far better performances than the  Royal Shakespeare Company members, my acting is far superior!..

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

London Trip

Its been a busy few weeks with work, birthday parties, decorating the twins bedroom and workshops and we have even fitted in a trip to London which was fabulous.

My son treated the twins and I to a weekend in London for my birthday and we got to do the things we all really wanted to do.

We started with a trip to Parliament grounds as we got to London quite late so we decided to take a peek at Big Ben before we went over to the hotel, the first person we saw after getting out of the car park was Nigel Farrage doing a television interview in the Gardens of Parliament, unfortunately my boy needed a wee so we never got a chance to go over and have a chat, Oliver was ecstatic.

We stayed at an apartment in the East of London not far from Upton Park Tube station so getting to and from central London was easy.

The following day after having a good nights sleep we ventured into Parliament where we took a guided tour of  the House of Commons, House of Lords and Westminster Hall.

Oliver was overwhelmed at seeing the famous green chairs all the way round he kept asking are we going to the green chairs yet?. Our guide was fabulous, he was very informative and witty and went well over the 90 minutes and ended up staying with us for two and a half hours.

We had a walk along the river over towards to Tower Of London so that we could take a look at the Crown Jewels which Olivia was very excited about, along the way we did some sight seeing and took in the enormity of the Shard and a few monuments.


Once we got to the Tower we were delighted to find there was a BBC Food Festival going on so we ended up taking in a few tasty samples after seeing the Crown Jewels.

We had a fabulous walk back up the river and got to do some more sight seeing and stopped for something to eat.

 There was a lot to see and it was a long walk so we called it a day when we got to the end and headed back for the hotel to refresh for our last day.

We all woke up very excited to be going on the Buckingham Palace Tour, Olivia was very overwhelmed and excited.

It was a fabulous trip and we ended off with a walk on Trafalgar Square for something to eat from the Japanese Festival.

And then we headed off back home and waved goodbye to a wonderful weekend in London.