Hackney celebrates 25 years of Black History Month

Hackney Council is launching its annual Black History Season of free events, entertainment and educational activities for adults, children and young people in celebration of black culture and achievements in the borough and beyond. The packed programme runs from October to December.

This year Hackney explores 25 years of Black History Month in Britain as well as oral tradition and the written word, highlighting key contributions from the black community over the years. The season will be launched at Hackney Museum on 26 September with the opening of its exhibition – Sankofa, the truth behind Black History Month 1926-2013. Sankofa means ‘the wisdom of learning from the past to build the future’, and the exhibition will reflect on over 75 years of the history of African and African Caribbean people in this country to the rise of Black History Month, from its American origins to its beginnings here 25 years ago and its growth and development across London.  

It will show how people came together to fight against the injustice of discrimination and how individuals set up organisations to educate, empower and inspire a new generation of British youth. The display will feature rarely seen archival material from campaign groups such as the Black Parents Movement, Teachers against Racism and Hackney Black People’s Association. 

Hackney Museum is also running a large schools programme around the Sankofa exhibition, helping children to discover the wealth of black history in the UK.Hackney’s eight libraries and Hackney Archives will also be putting on a series of events, with a focus on art, literature, music and culture. 

A host of influential people from the creative community will be delivering workshops or giving talks throughout the programme including novelists, performers, writers and poets.Workshops include: Jamaican speak performance, traditional head wraps and braiding, Afro Caribbean dance sessions and mask making. 

There will also be film showings, stories and music as well as debates tackling topics such as the future of black publishing.and how well are black people represented in sport and its hierarchy?

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
In Hackney we celebrate black culture and achievements all year round, along with those of the many diverse communities in our borough. This season of events is not only challenging and educational, but will also seek to explore and debate how we can work together to build a future without racism or discrimination.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

Throughout the season Hackney Museum will encourage interaction and discussion from its visitors through its live twitter wall, asking questions such as: Why is black history frozen into one month? Has it lost its potency and become a watered down version of the original vision? Should it be discontinued? What is its future? Please tweet your views, stories and pictures from Black History Season using #BHM13.

Events take place until the end of November 2013, with the Hackney Museum exhibition running until 4 January 2014.  Some events require you book in advance. 

Follow us at www.twitter/hackneyartsleis or www.facebook/hackneyarts 

Highlights – all events are free

26 September 2013 - 4 January 2014 Sankofa, the truth behind Black History Month 1926-2013 Sankofa is the African Adinkra symbol meaning the wisdom of learning from the past to build the future. This exhibition explores the development of Black History Month as well as celebrating activism against racism and how it has inspired a new generation of British Youth. Hackney Museum,1 Reading Lane, E8 All ages

Thursday 17 October,  6.30pm–8.30pm The great sports debate After the success of London 2012, where black British athletes broke records and captivated the nation, this debate will explore how well represented are black people in sport.  The chair, Joy Francis of Words of Colour Productions, will be joined by an exciting panel of sportsmen and women, sports academics and commentators. Submit a question for consideration at the event at point of booking.Hackney Picturehouse, Mare Street, E8 Age group: 16+ To book your place email:

Tuesday 8 October, 6–8pm C.L.R. James appreciation evening Journalist and writer Andrea Enisuoh will read material by campaigning socialist, theorist, essayist and cricket enthusiast C.L.R. James along side her own.  This will be followed by a discussion on both of their works. They’ll also be poetry and musical performances and storytelling.Dalston C.L.R. James Library, E8 Age group: For age 15+ No booking required

Wednesday 9 October, 6.30pm-7.45pm In conversation with Courttia Newland Black British writer Courttia Newland published his seventh book, The Gospel According to Cane, last spring. An academic, playwright and broadcaster, Courttia talks to Joy Francis, executive director of Words of Colour Productions, about his career, mainstream publishing, how black characters are covered in fiction and the challenges facing blackBritish writers today.Hackney Central Library, Reading Lane, E8 Age group: For age 16+ No booking required 

Tuesday 22 October, 5.30–7.30pm Feeling the Spirit Sandra Agard delivers a creative writing and storytelling workshop exploring the importance of stories, spirituals and songs in The Underground Railway.Hackney Central Library, Reading Lane, E8 Age group: 14+ No booking required    

Wednesday 23 October, 5.45-7.45pm Songs, Rhythms & Tales - the preserved works of Dr Olive LewinIn honour of the late Dr Olive Lewin, Jamaican musicologist, who dedicatedher life to preserving the folklore traditions of Jamaica. Join singer Sunnie Dae, as she leads a workshop honouring her work.  Learn rhythms and harmonies before participating in a 15 minute performance. If possible, please bring along a Djembe or small hand drum.Stoke Newington Library, Church Street, N16 Age group: any age who can read and follow lyrics Booking required

Thursday 24 October, 6.30pm-7.45pm From the margins to the mainstream? The state of black British publishing Amid the debate over whether traditional publishing will survive the Kindle, this debate explores what is happening to black publishing and its role in society today? Joy Francis, Executive Director of Words of Colour Productions, will chair a panel of publishers, editors and writers, including Patsy Antoine, Steve Pope, Kadija (George) Sesay and Becky Nana Ayebia Clarke MBE.Dalston C.L.R. James Library, E8 Age group: 16+ No booking required

Tuesday 29 October, 12.30-2pm Jamaica Speak Workshop Come and be educated in Jamaican roots and traditional culture by Jamaican folklorist, Evelyn Chronicle. At the end of the session you too will be speaking patois and reciting proverbs and riddles - Jamaican style! Stamford Hill Library, Portland Avenue, N16  Age group: 6+ No booking required

Wednesday 30th October, 6-7pm Jamaica Speak PerformanceThis social commentary will transport you through rural and urban Jamaica as folklorist Evelyn Chronicle brings to life a range of different characters and folk heroes. There will be lots of audience participation too.Shoreditch Library, Hoxton Street, N1 Age group: family event – all ages. No booking required