Uncovering diverse history: Black History Month in Brighton and Hove
This month marks the celebration of Black History, Arts, and Culture not just in Brighton and Hove, but around the world. Although October is dedicated to providing platforms for Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) speakers and artists, there are numerous organisations working within the city and across Sussex to ensure equal cultural representation all year round.
Brighton and Hove Black History was launched in 2002 with the principal aim to fight racism by bringing stories of multiculturalism to the forefront of the city’s history. Their website collates information from this history, which owes much of its efforts to Bert Williams MBE D.Lit, who has dedicated a large amount of his retired life to researching.
The organisation are currently petitioning the Royal Maritime Museum in London to revoke the £50 charge per photograph for use of images of Thomas Highflyer. Their website details the story of Tom, one of three African boys rescued by abolitionists from a slave ship in 1870. He lived his short life in Brighton and is remembered through his grave, which was recently restored at Woodvale Cemetery.
The petition states they require four photographs to be included in a possible educational film to be distributed to Brighton schools. In response to the museum’s charges, Mr Ebou Touray, Chair of Black History, said: “I find this whole issue a little bit disturbing as we are a voluntary organisation, all of us working as volunteers to help to spread a more cohesive community through learning and sharing. We are caught up in a complex and shambolic administrative tangle where we are having to pay for our own history.”
Organisations like Black History are dedicated to highlighting the diverse history entrenched in Brighton and Hove culture. Many events taking place across the city this October seek to embrace this spirit through art and performance.
Writing Our Legacy has been raising awareness of contributions from Black and Ethnic Minority authors, playwrights, and poets connected to the Sussex and South East area since 2012. They host evenings of creativity, beginning with a workshop to encourage people to share their storis led by Umi Sinha. Diverse Sussex – Brighton will offer recitals from Olumide Popoola, Rounke Coker, and hip-hop poet Spliff Richardson on Wednesday 24th October. Popoola will be reading from her novel, When We Speak of Nothing, set in the London riots of 2011.
Amy Zamarripa Solis, Chair & Programme Manager for Writing Our Legacy, said: “I’m really excited to bring Olumide Poopola’s bold new novel to Brighton audiences. Her book gives a vital voice to queer and trans teenagers, and I’m hoping we will reach a wide audience of all ages for this event.
Brighton and Hove Labour Party BAME Forum are also hosting an event on 30th October inviting people to listen to speakers discussing the Tory government’s immigration policy, and how this will affect the public. They are a citywide group dedicated to supportingBAME members of the Labour Party. Speakers include Martin Forde QC, Independent Person, Windrush Compensation Scheme; Kingsley Abrams, General Secretary, Momentum Black Caucus; Jacqueline McKenzie, prominent immigration/asylum lawyer.
Additionally, Decolonise Sussex, a student-led organisation confronting coloniality at the University of Sussex, have organised a number of events, bringing black history and culture to focus. This includes a poetry workshop and performance centring around blackness and identity on Friday 19th October on Sussex campus.
Headline performances are from London-based poets, Kareem Parkins-Brown and Bridget Minamore, and also with an open mic session for audience members. They will also host a panel with Women of Colour sharing their experiences of the publishing sector and using independent print as a form of expression when they feel their voices are quashed in society.
Black History Month is not to say that you should ignore our multicultural society for the other eleven months of the year. Groups such as Brighton and Hove Black History, Writing A Legacy, and Decolonise Sussex highlight this with their constant work all year round, and providing platforms for BAME artists and intersectional discussion. This month raises awareness for all people and engages communities to celebrate Black Culture, the Arts, and History.
For more information about Black History and the events mentioned, please visit: