Jon is of mixed heritage and was raised by his English mother, Angela Gilbey, with the help of his maternal family in Hull. He grew up never being told much about his father, Tony Lewis, until at the age of 13 years, long kept secrets started to be revealed. Jon’s research into his father’s family has recently shed new light on his African American heritage and has revealed a possible link to slavery.
To read Jon’s fascinating story click here
Contemporary Voices: Oral history by Gifty Burrows
Gifty talks about her childhood leaving Ghana as a 7-year-old girl with her younger brother without being able to speak English. Her upbringing in Huddersfield and Bury in an exclusively white neighbourhood brought her face to face with insidious racism. She describes how her self-confidence grew out of necessity whilst graduating as a nurse in Leeds. After meeting her husband whilst students at university she mentions the difficulties experienced in embarking on a mixed-marriage and the challenges of staying together whilst raising 3 children in a rural East Yorkshire market town. Her drive to challenge the stereotypes of blackness in all forms of life has brought her to this point where the African Stories project is helping to bring history of people of African descent to a wider audience.
Listen to Gifty's interview here.
The West Indian Ground Crew
On Tuesday, we released the often-forgotten story of the West Indian recruits based at RAF Hunmanby Moor, Filey. In 1944, approximately 4,000 men from the Caribbean journeyed across the Atlantic to help the war effort. After they disembarked in Britain, they were taken to East Yorkshire to complete their basic training, before being moved to various RAF bases to carry out essential work. Although most of these men were repatriated after the Second World War, a small proportion started a new life in Britain.
Click here to read the story of the West Indian Ground Crew
Click here for information on individual West Indian Recruits
Contemporary Voices: Oral history by David Watson
David Watson was born into a farming family in Jamaica. He came to visit his brother in Croydon and stayed, working initially as a chef before joining the Forces which led him to come to Leconfield as an Army Transport trainee. During his time in the forces, he served in Iraq and Kuwait. Hull has been his base since 2002 having met his wife on a night out at LAs Nightclub and subsequently raising five children here. He describes himself as having taken the long way around to become an electrician, realising his childhood ambition by starting his own electrical business and proving his teachers wrong in doing so.
Roland Gift is regarded as one of the most famous Black singers to have lived in Hull. In the 1980s, he exploded onto the music scene as the frontman of the internationally successful band ‘Fine Young Cannibals.’ This story explores Gifts experiences as a teenager growing up in Hull, rise to stardom and return to the city to perform as a singer and actor and was written by our guest writer Thomas Burrows.
Contemporary Voices: Oral history by Val Bibby
Yesterday we released our latest Contemporary voices interview with Val Bibby. Val’s family background is not entirely known to her but she recalls that her great grandfather was from the West Indies and her grandfather was from Sri Lanka. They emigrated to Hull together on the same ship within the merchant navy as cooks. She talks about a difficult childhood peppered with racist abuse that led her to feelings of shame about her ethnic makeup. An opportunity to return into education also paved the way into exploring her own racial makeup and become more comfortable about her family's origins. This experience gave her the confidence to transform her life and make a career change after years of steady employment.
New Research Blog Post
In continuation from our blog post last week, we have once again acknowledged how the digitisation of resources has helped us uncover the African presence in Hull and East Yorkshire between 1750 and 2007. Records which reveal Black men and women who visited, lived and worked the region can be found all over the world. This week we have focused on those located in America and have revealed the names of a small selection of men and women who migrated from Hull across the Atlantic.
Click here to read our new research blog post.
Oral Histories Final Call!
Also we would like to take this opportunity to put out a final call for anyone of African descent who is willing to share their story by participating in an oral history interview for the Contemporary Voices section of our project. We now have limited spaces left so click here to contact us if you are interested.
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