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2021 Calendar; African Lives in Northern England

Although this calendar was not published directly by ourselves, the Society has supported it and is glad to offer its website to host further information and resources about the individuals and places featured in the calendar.

Introduction to the Calendar

This calendar showcases the long history of African lives in Northern England, from Roman soldiers on Hadrian’s Wall to actors in the twenty-first century. We have aimed to share the highlights, such as the people believed to be the first black editor and the first black J.P. in Britain, and the first black professional footballer in the world. Others include the enslaved woman who escaped across the Atlantic and settled in North Shields, the ANC fighter who settled in Tynemouth, and famous visitors such as Martin Luther King.

Main sources and references

The  informal group compiling the calendar drew on a number of sources for their information. The main ones were;

Another useful reference book is David Renton, Colour Blind? Race and Migration in North East England, University of Sunderland Press, 2007.

In addition, Historic England and the National Trust have both recently brought out reports linking England's built environment with colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade, downloadable from their websites. They are;

Individuals and places

Each individual and place featured in the Calendar has a sub-page of its own (or will have when this work-in-progress is finished). They are listed below in alphabetical order, not in order of the months in which they appear. These pages include quotations from some of the sources above (especially Creighton and Todd) and further information, references and links where these are available. Click on each sub-heading below to be taken to the relevant page (where there is no link, that page has not yet been finalised);

Photo taken by Yutaka Nagata, United Nations photo library, in United Nations and Sierra Leone, by Ade Daramy with permission from the author.

Picture, United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division via Wikimedia Commons

Picture Credit; Windrush ship, Royal Navy official photographer -  This is photograph FL 9448 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums, downloaded from Wikipedia Commons

Sunderland University has provided a recording of the virtual unveiling of the blue plaque to Celestine Edwards, which took place on 15 October. There is also a podcast, material written by journalism students at the unversity, and related resources.

Picture reproduced by permission of National Archives; newspaper cutting, Sunderland Echo, 30 Sept, 1891, p. 3, sourced from Local History Library@ETR

Back page, picture of plaque reproduced by permission of Sunderland City Council

Picture credit, Don O'Meara

Picture: plaque reproduced by permission of Maryport town council.

John Kent was the son of a freed slave, and became a policeman in Maryport, Cumbria. A biography of him, by Raymond Greenhow, was published in 2018, and is still available from Cumbria Books. Mr Greenhow has written a detailed article about him for the Black History Month 2020 website.

Picture credit; Beverley Prevatt Goldstein

Picture credit David Faulkner

Picture Credit; Barbadosstamps.co.uk, Barbados Postal Service

Picture; Yale Centre for British Art, via Wikimedia Commons. An article concerning the bust, and other eighteenth-century sculptures of Black figures, was published online by the Centre in November 2015.

Picture Credit; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, via Wikimedia Commons

Picture credit: with permission from Steve Brock. Sibeko was also known as Zola Zembe and Zola Ntembe. His autobiography, Freedom in our Lifetime,  co-authored by his wife Joyce (Leeson) was published by Unison, Northern Region in 1996 with sales proceeds to a schools project in Tyume valley, Eastern Cape, with which Archie and Joyce were associated. Two copies were presented to the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, and are available on loan.

picture credit, Don O'Meara

Picture credit; Laing Art Gallery/Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, with thanks for permission to use.

Servants feature in the background of many 18th century portraits, as a symbol of their employers' wealth, and black servants were even more a 'prestige' symbol. Another example is the black servant in Girl with a Dog, by Philip Vilain, dating fron 1708 and part of the Founders' Bequest at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle. It was conserved in 2006-7 and, shown in an exhibition Revealed: Luxury Goods and the Slave Trade. As commented in the Museum's What's On Guide, 'The black servant in the painting was obscured from the viewer's attention, as the female sitter is bathed with light while the servant had faded into the murky shadows of the background. The painting represents society's construction of racial divisions, in the visual arts'.

During the 2020 lockdown, operatic tenor Peter Brathwaite carried out a project, Rediscovering Black Portraiture, which highlighted some of these and examined their history. He subsequently also had a series of short 'essays' on BBC Radio 3 looking at five of the portraits in depth, and these are available on BBC Sounds.

Picture credit: Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

See Africans on Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, a blog by Bill Griffiths and Alex Croom, on the Arbeia section of Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives website.

He has a Wikipedia page. Picture credit: Wikipedia Commons, from an anonymous photographer

Picture credits: Team picture reproduced by permission of Alamy; Learie Constantine, Wikimedia Commons, from National Library of Australia - https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-162155046,

Picture credit: reproduced with permission from Sean Campbell, Arthur Wharton Foundation

 

 

 

 

In the future, don’t forget your past