The African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire event last Friday was attended by over sixty people at Hull University’s Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE). Those attending said that they found the day informative and surprising with a varied range of interesting stories.
The speakers were:
Dr Lauren Darwin, our project researcher who gave an overview of the project to date exploring the history of Black men and women in Hull and East Yorkshire between 1750 and 2007. She then went on to pick out particular points in history and commented on the themes that we have developed. She also explained how the project might expand in the future.
Rona Dickinson an archivist and President of the Marshland Local History Group who became aware of their "Black Vicar" Rev Edward Cragg Haynes some years ago. Her talk covered his family, the role of Freedmen in Barbados and his mark on the village of Swinefleet.
Dr Carolyn Conroy, our Web Manager who spoke about the first visits by the Fisk University Jubilee Singers of Nashville Tennessee to Hull in the 1870s. She gave a brief background history of the troupe and looked at the individual singers' stories.
Dr Nick Evans, an experienced lecturer at WISE who specialises in Migration, explored the everyday life of Black settlers in interwar Hull. He focussed on areas such as their housing, living conditions, social life and integration of what remained a small visibly ethnic community once it moved beyond the Sailor Town of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Audrey Dewjee, a specialist in Black History gave a brief overview of the events of the Hull Riots of 1920 and then looked at how the riots had an effect on inter-racial family life.
The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive and we were delighted by the enthusiastic praises. However, we are always looking for ways of improving the project and so welcome suggestions. The following are ideas raised in the comments:
Involve schools:- we wrote directly to many secondary schools to inform them of this event but disappointingly, no schools attended. We actively look to involve young people and continue to make efforts to do so. We invite any level school to contact us as we would be happy to visit and share what we are finding. We welcome contributions of long or short story. Choose a person on the website or someone new…..what about Clive Sullivan, Curtis Woodhouse, JJ Okocha etc? The information shared on the project website can be used in curriculum areas such as History, English, Geography, Sociology, Citizenship, Media Studies, Visual Arts etc.
The use of terminology such as ‘coloured’ or ‘Black’ can be confusing:- A glossary and dates of use was suggested; we will look to help clarify this point and think about how we can present this information on the website.
More people should know about this project:- We continue to inform widely and have taken up media opportunities in TV, Radio and Newspapers. Please download our poster and help us spread the word. Let us know where and we’ll try and get it there! This is a community project for everyone of all backgrounds to join in!
Thank you to all who came to our African Stories event and to those who continue to support the project.
The Project Team
About the Project
The project is organised by the William Wilberforce Monument Fund which was established in 2013 to promote an awareness of the cultural and historic importance of the Wilberforce legacy in the context of past and modern day slavery. Our main objective was to raise funds to light the Wilberforce monument in time for the Hull UK City of Culture 2017. This project aims to be part of our educational remit to explore the stories of people of African descent in Hull and East Yorkshire from the Wilberforce era of the 1750s until 2007. To understand what we mean by people of African descent please click HERE.
This project is unique to this area and connects with this region’s strong historical association with William Wilberforce and the anti-slavery movement. It intends to demonstrate that an African presence in Britain is not a recent phenomenon and instead will recover stories from around the time of Wilberforce to the present day: 1750-2007. This important new website has been created to showcase the new stories and new research. It will enable and encourage everyone to participate in the collecting of stories of people of African descent by inviting people to view and submit information, ideas, photographs, essays and individual stories. We are also planning exhibitions at Hull History Centre in 2017 and Beverley Treasure House in 2018.
We also welcome contact from anyone of African descent (African, Caribbean, American) who were living in the area before 2007 in order that we can collect contemporary oral recordings of stories for future generations.
If you can help with our research we would love to hear from you! You can contact us with information, images, ideas, suggestions and offers of help by going to our CONTACT US page for more details. Thank you.
Dr Lauren Darwin