Black History Month is a time for us all to celebrate and learn about the histories, stories and experiences of our Black British community here in the East End. From books and talks to theatre and film, there is a rich variety of local activities to get involved in.
After this year’s protests and national conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement, we are now more aware than ever about the importance of engaging with and recognising the experiences of our black British communities. That’s why, this Black History Month, we are sharing a round up of all of the events happening in our area throughout October that highlight the work of prominent historical figures and also current voices. From celebrating black talent in film, behind and in front of the caerma, to giving a platform to local organisations, it is a time for us all to recognise and engage with our vibrantly diverse cultural fabric and the brilliant contribution black people have made, and still make, to our East End.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, many of this year’s events will take place online with a few Covid-safe exceptions.
You can learn from your sofa by sitting back and listening to a wide-ranging bundle of online talks. The Museum of London Docklands is running a bitesize series celebrating the stories of Black Londoners, and the East End History Club will present an explosion of local images, cuttings and archive collections. Local British Caribbean teacher, Alix Baptiste, will give her perspective on ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) and the Tower Hamlets African and Caribbean Mental Health Organisation will discuss the significance of their history and achievements.
For visual inspiration, take a wander through the virtual gallery of a photography exhibition set up by Tower Hamlets Council. From portraits of local women at work to young photographers’ perspectives of the BLM protests, the collection of images will depict black lives past and present.
Fancy a night ‘out’ via your laptop screen? Celebrate Somali culture by a live-streamed feast of poets, musicians, DJs and visual artists with Numbi Arts. Or Zoom in to the opening night of #SLACfest2020 (Sierra Leone Arts and Culture Fest) for an evening celebrating Sierra Leone’s contribution to the world, with discussions, digital media and performances.
Perhaps you are a film lover? You can venture out of your house for a socially distanced trip to the cinema. Genesis’ mini-season,‘Through Her Eyes’, will depict the experience of the black heroine on screen. Genesis is also featuring A Dark Mind, a documentary about mental health in the black community. Alongside the films, you can enjoy the extras of introductions, Q&As, discussions and workshops.
From newly devised spoken word to acclaimed drama, the theatre will come to you. Youth group ‘Purple Moon Drama’ is streaming a mixed media response about the relevance of BHM today, and rehearsed reading ‘Lisa-Luca’ will tell the story of a modern Black British woman wanting to thrive in a society and a relationship that doesn’t satisfy her needs. All you have to do is press play.
Intrigued by the concept of a digital dining experience? Buy a ticket for a Youtube showing of ‘Jollof Court’, and a classic Nigerian dish will be delivered to your door.
And we haven’t forgotten about the music lovers. Pop down to Cambridge Heath for The Grand Union Orchestra’s ‘Sounding Bethnal Green’ concerts, at St John’s Church, where you can enjoy everything from the Ghanian influences of Tony Kofi’s saxophone to the Caribbean grooves of Kevin Robinson’s trumpet. If you’d rather stay in, bring a gig to your living room by live streaming the folkloric West African tones of London’s distinguished virtuosos Jalu Bakary Konteh & Yahael Camara-Onono in a Manding Music event.
Black Londoners – The Museum of London Docklands, 1 – 31 October
The East End History Club, 22 October
BLM – A view from East London, 26 October
‘Through Her Eyes’ – Genesis Cinema Black History Season, 5 – 27 October
Film Africa – Rich Mix, 30 October – 8 November
Photography exhibition by Tower Hamlets Council, 1 – 30 October
Arts & Culture
Numbi Arts – Somali Festival, 24 October
The annual Sierra Leone Arts & Culture festival, 27 October
Purple Moon Drama, 19 October
Rehearsed reading of Lisa-Luca, 28 October
Digital Dining – Jollof Court, 29 October
Sounding Bethnal Green, 2 October – 9 November
Manding Musical Movements, 16 October
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