Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black History: Poetry, Music, Art

On Sunday 26th October, 2008, UK's Most Wanted presents its Black History programme. As the author of Black Success Stories, I will be speaking on The Importance of Our African Cultural Heritage.

I hope you will be able to join us.

Every month, the UK 's Most Wanted programme includes spoken word, music and an art exhibition.

Time: 4:00-8:00 p.m.

Place: Redstar, 319 Camberwell Road, Camberwell Green,

London SE5 0HQ

Cost: £7 or free with a leaflet.

For more info, phone 07727 214 047

To read interviews with African Caribbean artists on their responses to the Bicentenary of the end of the Transatlantic trade, visit:

For more BHM arts events, visit:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sexual Exploitation of Black Women

"Harriet" is a choreopoem by Zhana which I wrote earlier this year. It explores themes around the sexual exploitation of African American women during enslavement.

It contains no explicit material.

"Harriet" tells the story of Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Lives of a Slave Girl, and portrays an imaginary meeting between her and Harriet Tubman.

To listen to an excerpt from a rehearsed reading of "Harriet", click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do Black People Know Our History?

My guest on tonight's show is Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, founder of the Law and Policy Group and author of Race, Law and American Society 1607-Present. She has a lot to say about Black history and how the law has affected us in Britain and the U.S.A.

I had a fascinating conversation with Gloria last night. She lectures in law in New York City and she told me that some of her students from Caribbean backgrounds were not aware that slavery had even happened there - they thought African people were indigenous to their islands. They had never been taught about slavery. (These are NOT Jamaicans, she assures me.)

Similarly, I was told by a previous guest, Tony Warner, that people in African countries are not aware of their history because the education system does not tell them about it. Click here to read more about that.

Tonight's show is going to be lively, informative and thought-provoking. I hope you will join us at 8:00 p.m. UK time. Click here to join us.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Free Black History Newspaper

Mia Morris has been running the Black History Month website for many years at

Mia now publishes a new, free Black History newspaper. I have just been reading a great article by Stephen Bourne in Mia's paper, about Black people who lived in Southwark, South London (where I live) during WWII. Plus she has events listings from London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Leeds and more.

The newspaper is available from museums including the Imperial War Museum, as well as Lambeth and Westminster libraries.

When I was at the Imperial War Museum, there were thousands of copies stacked up in the corner. So do what I did: grab a dozen copies or so and take them to your local library or school, or share them with friends.

To hear a recording of my 30th September Success Strategies radio show, on which Mia was a guest, visit:

See also:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Black History Radio Shows (3)

My guest on last week’s show was the historian Tony Warner.

One of the points he made is that Black people are not aware of our history. This is not just true in the Diaspora, it is true on the Continent as well.

He has travelled to Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. In all of these places, he found that people were unaware of their history because the education system did not tell them about it.

To find out more about Tony Warner’s work, visit Black History Walks.

I asked him how people can start to learn about Black history and he said to start with your own family: interview your parents and grandparents about their lives.

To listen to a recording of the show, visit:

I asked the late Len Garrison, founder of the Black Cultural Archives, how to research family history. You can read his response in Black Success Stories.

This week, my guest on the Success Strategies radio show will be Kwende Ukaidi of the Birmingham bookshop Yemanja.

Yemanja have a very exciting educational and culture programme for Black History Month. To listen to the broadcast on Tuesday at 8 p.m., and to hear recordings of previous shows, visit:

Black History in Birmingham

This week, my guest on the Success Strategies radio show will be Kwende Ukaidi of the Birmingham bookshop Yemanja.

Yemanja have a very exciting educational and culture programme for Black History Month.

I hope you can join us. To listen to the broadcast on Tuesday at 8 p.m., and to hear recordings of previous shows, visit:

To read about the previous guests on my shows, visit:

To read an article about the origins of Black History Month UK, visit:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Black History in London Radio Show

As October is Black History Month/African Heritage Month in the UK, I am delighted that my guest tonight will be Tony Warner of Black History Walks

Brother Tony tends to take a global view of Black history, which is very much in keeping with the international approach of my show.

To listen, please join us at 8:00 p.m. UK time at:

You can also listen to the recordings of previous shows at that URL.

See also: Black History with Tony Warner.

Click here to read an article about the African origins of BHM UK.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Black History Radio Shows (2)

Following on from the previous blog, my next guest, Mia Morris, spoke about her Black History Month website and her new, free Black History newspaper, which complements the site. She is keen to promote grassroots organisations which are putting on events regardless of whether or not they receive funding.

Mia’s website is at:

My final guest was Emmanuel Amevor, who spoke about the Wordpower International Black Literature Festival and Book Fair. Centerprise, who are running Wordpower, have lost all their funding from the Arts Council, but they intend to carry on and are holding an impressive series of events this year.

Click here to listen to the recording of this show.

Click here for Black History Radio Shows (part 1).

Click here to see my African Heritage resources.

For more BHM events, visit:

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Black History Radio Shows

My first guest on the Success Strategies radio show on Tuesday was Joan Gosier of Black Parent Connect and HBCU Kidz. Joan is becoming a regular caller and it was lovely to hear from her again. She is doing research about people from Africa who attended HBCUs. She is finding it very difficult even to search for the information because of the way the search engines are configured. If you can help or have any information, please contact her. Click here for Joan’s blog.

To read about Black history which is alive in London today, click here.

Click here to join us for the show every Tuesday and to listen to recordings of previous shows.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Black History with Tony Warner

I went to a Black History lecture last Friday night, by Tony Warner of 100 Black Men of London. He was speaking at Dr. Lez Henry’s BLAK Friday event.

The talk was on the Black history which is all around us in London. As usual, Brother Tony told gave us lots of useful information – and it’s often right in front of us. Black people have done so much to be proud of. I could not note down every bit of information he gave us, but here are a few examples:

A Black man, Bill Richmond, owned a pub in Leicester Square in the early19th century and owned his own gym in Trafalgar Square in 1810. In those days, boxing was all the rage amongst the aristocracy, who were his clients. His was the London’s first boxing academy.

Many African people resisted slavery, including:

Robert Wedderburn, a free Black man who
- saw his mother and grandmother, who were enslaved, whipped for being rebellious
- saw women who fought against rape be whipped, have their ears cut off or be

starved to death.

He wrote a book called The Horrors of Slavery and was an active speaker against slavery and economic oppression.

Ottobah Cuguano, who
- was one of the leaders and spokesmen for London’s Black community
- wrote a pamphlet in 1787 calling for the total abolition of slavery
- sent it to the King although the Royal Family were pro-slavery
- advocated for Black schools in 1794 – Black children were facing some of the
problems we are seeing today
- proposed making war on the slave trade by using the Navy.

The Sons of Africa, who
- were a group of African men who wrote to the newspapers in 1787
- protested against slavery and racism.

Mary Prince, whom I am sure you have heard of:
- was born into slavery in Bermuda in 1788
- fought back against frequent rapes
- was whipped, then sold
- was sexually abused by her new master
- was whipped for marrying a free Black man
- was sent to the UK to keep her away from her husband
- wrote The History of Mary Prince, which was published in 1831
- was sued for libel by her former owner but won the case because of her scars and


Mary Prince’s story in some ways echoes that of Harriet Jacobs, the subject of my choreopoem, Harriet. Although Jacobs was not raped, she resisted sexual exploitation by her master for many years. Her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, gave some of the few published accounts of the pressures women were under during enslavement.

Then, there was Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
- A prince from Chad
- a loyal soldier
- racially abused and ripped off by his landlady in London, as well as his employers

and the general public
- published his book in 1770, A narrative of the most remarkable particulars in the

life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

And finally,

Thomas Peters
- a loyal British soldier in the Revolutionary War
- along with many other loyal soldiers and civilians, dumped in Nova Scotia, a rocky

island where they had no land for planting, after the war
- got 15 ships from the British and equipped them with African captains
- got the government to pay for the former slaves to travel; and
- sailed with them 5,000 back to Sierra Leone.

As I said, there is much more information but I cannot even include here everything I wrote down.

Some of the people spoken about were loyal soldiers who fought for the British which raises other questions for me. Brother Tony spoke about some of these issues in another talk, "Where Does Your Allegiance Lie?" I will be posting about this.

One thing Brother Tony did not mention was that because of people such as Mary Prince, Robert Wedderburn, Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass, amongst others, who published their own eyewitness accounts of slavery, and who did speaking tours in Britain, an antislavery movement grew. Many white people were appalled when they learned some of the details of what happened on board slave ships and on plantations, even if these were sanitised versions. These people were quite rightly appalled, and as a direct result, the abolitionist movement in Britain grew.

Every Tuesday this month, I will be doing Black History shows on the radio. To listen to them, and to hear the recordings of previous shows, visit:

Brother Tony will be one of my guests, so check the website for details.

See also:

Soul Survivors
German Death Camp in Namibia
Wordpower Literary Festival