On 6 October, 15 Year 9 students from the Boulevard Academy attended Hull College for our Schools Event to support the 'Our Histories Revealed' exhibition. So following on from yesterday's blog post review of our recent exhibition and events a couple of the students from the school have kindly put together a report for us about what they experienced and what they took away from the day.
During the event the students heard a presentation about the background to Black History Month, heard about the African Stories project and then were treated to a live oral history interview with Bax and Lans, members of the popular local band Bud Sugar. This was followed by a guided tour of the exhibition at the Hull History Centre.
We are pleased to have received some feedback from two of the students Dean Denton and Jack Brettlell
African Stories in Hull & East Yorkshire
By Dean Denton, with help from Jack Brettell
On Friday 6th October, a selection of students travelled to Hull College to unravel the history of “African Stories of East Yorkshire”.
It took place at Hull College’s Arts Building. We were given a presentation about the achievements of some of Hull’s most remarkable – if sometimes forgotten Black citizens.
Here is the list of notable Black people from our area:
Saturday was sadly the last day of our exhibition 'Our Histories Revealed' at the Hull History Centre. The last four weeks have been extremely rewarding as they have enabled us to engage with local people as well as visitors who have travelled from far and wide to see our findings showcased through the medium of video, audio clips, art instillations, photographs and text.
To compliment the exhibition we have hosted several events which have been very well attended and have successfully captured the interest of diverse groups of people including notable dignitaries, children, members of various history societies, those with a keen interest in local, regional or Black British History and academics. Below is a more detailed account of our exhibition activities.
Opening Night and Visitors Comments.
A blog about our opening event can be found here and some of the fabulous comments we have received from visitors about the exhibition can be found here. If you visited our exhibition and didn’t leave a comment but on reflection would like to, please submit your thoughts to us here.
In the Media
The project has featured in the media several times over the past month. We have appeared on the television and radio stations promoting the exhibition and speaking more generally about the project.
Here is one of our latest media clips. You can view and listen to more in our media section here.
Newspaper coverage of our project exhibition from the Yorkshire Post 25 September 2017
Schools Study Day
On 6 October, we held a study day for school and college students to tie in with our exhibition and Black History Month. Although, we reached out to every school in the area, unfortunately only two took the opportunity to attend this free event. Nonetheless, a total of approximately 60 students from Boulevard and Hull College came to our schools’ study day. We began by giving an overview of British Black history before moving on to discuss some of the people of African descent who had visited, lived or worked in Hull and East Yorkshire between 1750 and 2007. This discussion was followed by a live oral history interview with brothers Bax and Lans (pictured below) from the band Bud Sugar. They spoke about their family, growing up in Hull and their connections to Africa. The students also visited our exhibition and filled in our Adinkra worksheets.
We had an amazing morning with the students and hope they all learned something new about Black history and African culture. The reports from their teachers were very positive.
Study Day at WISE
On 7 October, the project team held a conference at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE). In total 70 people attended this event where they heard from various speaks about the interesting stories of Black service personnel, African lion tamers and the Brandesburton Pygmies.
Dr Lauren Dawin, our Lead Researcher, gave an overview of the project findings, the themes that were used to shape the exhibition and our plans for the future. Dr Carolyn Conroy, our Website Manager, explored Black Lion Tamers and Boxers in nineteenth-century Hull and East Yorkshire. Mark Johnson, a historian who has published the pioneering book Caribbean Volunteers at War, talked about the West Indian pilots who fought for the mother country in the Second World War. Jeffery Green, a specialist in Black history, delivered the story of the Brandesburton Pygmies. Jeff described their journey to the region, experience in Britain and their arrival back in Africa. John Ellis, an experienced history teacher, retraced the Black presence in the British army from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. In particular, he highlighted soldiers of African descent who fought at the Battle of Waterloo, including John Lewis Friday. Below is a slideshow of some images from the event.
A Big Thank you!
Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to all of the wonderful City of Culture volunteers who have helped throughout our exhibition and associated events and we hope that those of you who have missed the exhibiton in Hull this time around, will join us in Beverley in 2018! Watch this space for more details.
We are entering the final few days of our exhibition 'Our Histories Revealed' at Hull History Centre so we strongly encourage you to go along and catch it while you can!
Saturday 21 October is the last day for a visit and the History Centre will be open until 4.30pm on that day. For more information about getting to the centre follow this LINK.
Exhibition Comments Page
So many wonderful messages and comments have been left by visitors to the exhibition that we have decided to share them and put some of them on a dedicated page on the project website. To take a look go to our new 'Exhibition Comments' page HERE.
Peter Fryer was pivitol in educating the public about the presence of people of African descent in Britain.
The son of a master mariner, Fryer was born in Hull on February 18, 1927 and raised in the city. He won a scholarship to Hymers College in 1938. He was impressed by the local Communist Party’s opposition to Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists, and when he was 15 he joined the Young Communist League.
Aged 16 he became a trainee journalist at the Yorkshire Post. His Communist views did not sit easily with the paper’s Tory politics and he was dismissed from his job for refusing to leave the Communist Party. At the end of 1947 he joined the Daily Worker (now the Morning Star) and for this paper he covered the arrival of Caribbean settlers on the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in 1948.
His honest reporting of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 led him to write a book Hungarian Tragedy in defence of the revolution and this led to his expulsion from the Communist Party. Shortly before his death he was informed that Hungary’s president had awarded him the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic, in recognition of his “continuous support of the Hungarian revolution and freedom fight”.
Of his many other books, the most well-known is Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain. Originally published in 1984, this 600-page, meticulously researched volume begins in Roman times with the famous opening words, “There were Africans in Britain before the English came here.” It continues to be considered the definitive history of Black people in Britain.
A highly accomplished blues pianist, he was also a leading authority on blues music, its history and related music in Africa and South America. At the time of his death he was working on a volume of Black American history – a study of life in Mississippi in the 19th and 20th centuries, under the working title “Behind the Blues”.
Yorkshire Post obituary, 4 November, 2006 http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/obituaries/peter-fryer-1-2398379
Guardian obituary by Terry Brotherstone, 3 November, 2006
Last week, Tuesday 26 September, we held our exhibition open evening at Hull History Centre. It was a fantastic occasion and attended by the Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull, Councillor John Hewitt and his Lady Mayoress, Honorary Alderman Betty Hewitt and William Wilberforce – all patrons of the William Wilberforce Monument Fund. Around one hundred people connected with the project also attended the event which showcased the multi-sensory experience on offer. It was clear from those that were there that much work had gone into creating this ground-breaking exhibition, which looks at the histories of people of African descent, an often neglected aspect of British social history in this region. Comments were made on how the artwork, colour, auditory and visual media used made the experience highly varied with added interest at every turn.
We received overwhelmingly positive responses to the evening which proved thought provoking for some and a very emotional personal experience for others. Other positive comments have been coming in since, from local visitors and those from further afield such as Louth, Bristol and London.
Last Friday we had the privilege to host His Excellency the High Commissioner of Ghana and Lord John Prescott who both visited the exhibition together with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Hull who kindly made a return visit.
The High Commissioner was representing the former President of Ghana, John Kufuor who was unable to attend. It was a privilege to host such a distinguished visitor to the city and the project team is immensely proud to have hosted his visit. We are grateful to them for taking time in their hectic schedule to visit our exhibition.
**The ‘Our Histories Revealed’ Exhibition is on at Hull History Centre until 21 October 2017**
Exhibition Opening Night Slide Show
This is an exceptionally busy period for our project team as we prepare to host a range of engagement activities in Hull. We hope to meet as many people as possible and further demonstrate that Black men, women and children contributed to the social, economic and cultural fabric of this fantastic region.
'Our Histories Revealed' Exhibition
Last Tuesday 26 September marked the opening of our exhibition, entitled ‘Our Histories Revealed’ at the Hull History centre, showcasing the wonderful stories, heirlooms, and artifacts connected with our project. Don’t forget you can bring along a copy of a photograph which celebrates African presence in Hull and East Yorkshire for our ‘Who do you know’ exhibition board.
Schools Study Day
On Friday 6 October, we are hosting a study day at Hull College where we will be talking to secondary school and college students about Black history. Our Project Lead, Gifty Burrows, will give an overview of our project and I will speak about how we can integrate Black British history into the curriculum, before Jerome Whittingham and Bax (from local band Bud Sugar) conduct an oral history interview and highlight the Contemporary Voices strand of our project. To end this fabulous educational event, we will be taking students to the Hull History Centre to show them our exhibition.
Project Study Day at WISE
On Saturday 7 October, we are hosting a conference at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) between 10am and 3.15pm. The project team together with Mark Johnson, Jeffery Green and John Ellis will be speaking about a range of topics which include lion tamers, pygmies and soldiers. Please consult our Events page for further information. If you have not yet registered, please make sure you contact us to reserve your place.
Hull History Centre Presentation
On 10th October, I will be giving a presentation between 12.30 and 1.30pm at Hull History Centre’s lunchtime club. I will be speaking about William Wilberforce’s legacy and how people of African descent honoured the abolitionist while visiting this region.
Exhibition Guided Tours
On 17th October, I will be conducting guided tours of our exhibition at the Hull History Centre between 2pm and 4pm to give additional information on the stories we have featured and will answer any questions about our exhibition before it closes on 21 October.
Alongside these events we also have a new batch of stories and blogs which will be brought to you throughout October. Please continue to check our website, project blog, Facebook and Twitter for notices of our latest releases.
Dr Lauren Darwin