Buckinghamshire libraries host Black History Month exhibitions
October is Black History Month, an annual commemoration of the history, achievements and contributions of black people in the UK.
To help celebrate Black History Month, Buckinghamshire libraries have worked with local Arts and Heritage community organisation St. Vincent & the Grenadines 2nd Generation (SV2G) to give residents a chance to view some fascinating Black History Month exhibitions at five local libraires.
To help launch the exhibitions, Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, Councillor Mimi Harker OBE, and Jacqueline Roberts, Chief Executive of SV2G, came along on Monday 12 October to High Wycombe Library.
Put together by High Wycombe based SV2G, who are part of the Buckinghamshire BAME Community Network set up by Councillor Mimi Harker OBE, the exhibitions feature in libraries in Aylesbury, Buckingham, Burnham, Chesham and High Wycombe throughout the month of October. The exhibitions are the result of three projects SV2G has focused on recently:
The Story of George Alexander reveals the tragic life of George Alexander Gratton, a child born into slavery from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and transported to Britain. High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire has the largest population of Vincentians in the UK. This project explored Marlow’s connections with the community in the Wycombe district. George’s grave was barely recognisable to the general public and has been restored as part of this project to preserve Vincentian heritage in the UK. Significantly, the grave is one of, if not the earliest, pieces of evidence of Vincentian presence in Britain.
This exhibition is showing at Chesham and High Wycombe libraries.
A Steelpan Town explored the rich diverse history of steelpan music, the musicians and the instrument itself in High Wycombe. The project captured the main steel bands that were formed in High Wycombe. Many steelpan musicians from St. Vincent and the Grenadines settled into High Wycombe from the late 1950s. The New Sound Crusaders Steel Band became famous when in 1971 they won the national TV programme ‘Opportunity Knocks’ for six consecutive weeks. A modern-day equivalent programme of Opportunity Knocks would be Britain’s Got Talent.
This exhibition is showing at Aylesbury, Buckingham and High Wycombe libraries.
Coming Back Home is an intergenerational project that documented the testimonies of Vincentian’s personal experiences and stories with three generations in High Wycombe. The project explored their experiences and memories from migration and settlement through to identity and everyday life. Also, with British Born Vincentian’s caught between two cultures, their journey and experiences were also documented.
This exhibition is showing at Aylesbury and Burnham libraries.
All exhibitions will be available to visit until Saturday 31 October.
In addition to the exhibitions, SV2G has put together a selection of Black History Month booklists, featuring popular BAME authors. The booklists include:
- Young, Gifted and Black – books for primary school age
- Young Adult fiction – books for secondary school age
- Black & British
The booklists can be viewed by going to: http://bit.ly/BHMBucks
Councillor Mimi Harker OBE, said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to see the launch of these fantastic Black History Month exhibitions, which have been brilliantly put together by SV2G. This is the first of hopefully many projects supported by the Buckinghamshire BAME Community Network! I’ve learnt so much from this exhibition and I hope you find it equally rewarding as well as educational. Enjoy!”
Jacqueline Roberts, Chief Executive of SV2G, added:
“We are fortunate to have a platform in Bucks libraries to promote and value SV2G’s heritage community work. It is important locally and in the wider diaspora to share our knowledge of our past history and culture. All three touring exhibitions are local black history that is right here in the Wycombe District! We thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their continued support over the years giving us, an African Caribbean Charity, the opportunities to document our own history in a unique way.”
Gareth Williams, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, commented:
“These exhibitions are an engaging celebration of Black History Month, vividly highlighting the contributions that black people have made to the UK over many generations. I’d urge people to go see the exhibitions if possible. I’d also recommend that residents take a look at the Black History Month booklists – which definitely offer something for everyone.”
Visit http://bit.ly/BHMlib for more details of the Black History Month exhibitions.