The end of 2016 marks a fantastic 12 months for the Africans in Hull and East Yorkshire Project and gives us an opportunity to share a summary of our journey so far.
The concept for this project began in November 2015 because it was felt that the region would benefit from a deeper insight into an aspect of British history that had a local focus. It was also realised that historical narratives can often be selective in what is reported and that accounts could be better served by providing a wider lens on events to include a fuller picture. Certainly for this region the Wilberforce connection has always been an important one, hence the gaze was placed on the African story.
See below a slideshow of some of the amazing research the project has been able to uncover and present this year. Click on the photo to go to the relevant project page.
Our First Event: Feb 2016
The idea began to flourish and by February it was felt that the time was right to moot the proposal to a wider audience and to gauge interest. This resulted in a highly successful first event held at WISE which was attended by nearly thirty people. We had guest speakers Martin Spafford (a GCSE History curriculum writer) outlining the history of British Black presence from the Roman times to the present day; Audrey Dewjee examining how to research local
history http://www.africansinyorkshireproject.com/hidden-gems.html; Dr Nick Evans and Professor John Oldfield (Wilberforce Institute) giving practical guides on local research and Martin Taylor (Hull History Centre) providing an insight into resources for research. These talks were very well received.
HLF Funding and the Project Expands!
We then forged ahead with an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which was met with success in May when we were granted £39,100 for the African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire project.
During the summer months the project rapidly expanded. A range of people joined our team as volunteer researchers, transcribers and Contemporary Voices. They enabled us to add more exciting content to our website. To date we have uncovered the previous silenced narratives of people of African descent in East Yorkshire with over 16 stories and 20 Contemporary Voices. There are also a further 28 stories which are waiting to be written and funding available for another 10 Contemporary Voices which will certainly keep us busy in 2017.
Below are the photographs of some of our wonderful Contemporary Voices. Click on any picture to go to our main oral histories page and listen to their stories.
Our Second Event: Nov 2016
As the project gathered further momentum, interest from the community and general public across the country increased. Members of the community contacted us about their family history and academics came forward with stories which we have been able to refocus and build upon.
In November we hosted our second event at the WISE. The project team gave presentations alongside guest speakers, Audrey Dewjee, Rona Dickinson and Nicholas Evans. Over 40 people attended the event and we received overwhelmingly positive comments about the work we are doing to bring African stories in the region to life. Read a report of the event HERE.
Our Amazing Contributors!
Throughout this year we have had the support and contributions from many, many people all of whom have been generous with their time, advice and funds http://www.africansinyorkshireproject.com/contributors.html . We continue to welcome this kind of support from anybody whatever their expertise, who want to make their mark on this project. We have had the attention of the media: ITV Calendar, Hull Daily Mail (Calvin Innes), Radio Humberside (Phil White, David Reeves, James Piekos, Andy Comfort and David Burns) and BBC Look North. This has all helped in getting the message out to the community: for everyone to have the opportunity to join in and make this an educational resource that allows the discovery of a rich strand of regional social history. This will be an important legacy for future generations.
Next Year? Hull City of Culture 2017: Get Involved with the Africans Project!
As Hull is the City of Culture for 2017, in the next twelve months we will continue to expand the project and bring the stories of people with African heritage in East Yorkshire to life. We will demonstrate that the social and cultural fabric of the region has been influenced by a diverse range of people who visited, worked or lived in Hull and East Yorkshire, many of whom were and are of African descent. To showcase our findings, we will be holding a four week exhibition at the Hull History Centre opening on 25 September 2017.
Thank you for your fantastic support this year! If you want to get involved with our exciting project in 2017 do not hesitate to contact us.
**Take a further look at the content of the African Stories In Hull & East Yorkshire by going to our new SEARCH page HERE!**
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