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Posts tagged with 'black history month'

Forgotten? : Black Soldiers in the Battle of Waterloo

21 October 2015 by Sarah

The Recruitment Officer c1815, showing a Black trumpeter rallying locals. It is exceptionally rare to find an image depicting a Black soldier at the Battle of Waterloo. Image reproduced by permission of Leslie Braine-Ikomi

The Recruitment Officer c1815, showing a Black trumpeter rallying locals. It is exceptionally rare to find an image depicting a Black soldier at the Battle of Waterloo. Image reproduced by permission of Leslie Braine-Ikomi

As we are now remembering and commemorating the Centenary of the First World War, Black British colonial troops are only now receiving attention by historians. 2015 is also the bicentenary of another great conflict, the Battle of Waterloo, and on 24th October at 1pm Dr Ray Costello will focus on another group of soldiers of African descent, Black soldiers who fought at the Battle of Waterloo a century earlier than the Great War. Here, Ray writes a blog for us ahead of his talk at the International Slavery Museum:

“If Black British colonial troops have been long neglected by historians, the existence of any narrative around Black British soldiers enlisting in the United Kingdom in the Napoleonic Wars is even less known. Black soldiers based in the United Kingdom would seem to have been a component of the British army for a very long time and there is some evidence to suggest that the British Army actively sought black soldiers during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

“Individual Black soldiers are known to have taken part in many of the Napoleonic war campaigns, including the Battle of Toulouse, the Peninsular War, Quatre Bra, and the final battle to defeat the French Emperor Napoleon at Waterloo in June 1815.

“Who were these Black soldiers and where were they from? Whilst the majority of Black soldiers found can be identified as coming from the West Indies, reflecting the slave trade, others came in roughly equal measure from Africa, continental North America, (i.e. the United States and Canada), the East Indies and Britain and Ireland. The 88th Foot had a number of Black soldiers serving with it in the Peninsular Campaign, and even after the Napoleonic Wars continued to recruit Black soldiers. One or two were even British-born, as Black people were being born in such ports at Liverpool at that time.

“Both before and after the Battle of Waterloo, amongst other regiments, black individuals were to be found in the 13th light dragoons, the 10th Hussars and the 88th Foot. After the Napoleonic Wars, we also look at what happened to those who had taken part. Did some receive medals? Who looked after them in their declining years and did they receive pensions?

“Although the numbers of Black soldiers may have been relatively small compared with the thousands who fought and died in this epic battle, the aim is to give these soldiers of African descent a deserved face and draw attention to the interest and importance of a previously under-researched history. I am inviting you to come along to the International Slavery Museum to listen to these forgotten accounts, and to perhaps rethink your perceptions of this phase of military history.”

Hear more from Dr Ray Costello this weekend, at his Black Soldiers at Waterloo talk at the International Slavery Museum – Saturday 24 October at 1pm. Part of our Black History Month 2015 event series. 

Did you know Black boxers were banned from becoming British Champions until the 1940’s?

7 October 2015 by Sarah

Kid Tanner photoLiverpool journalist and author, Gary Shaw, writes for us ahead of his free talk at the International Slavery Museum on 10 October for Black History Month, on the rise and role of the colour bar in British boxing:

“Not a well-known aspect of sports history by academic, let alone popular historians, the rise and role of the colour bar in British boxing is a sorry tale of establishment resentment, colonial self-glorification and bureaucratic stubbornness that prevented a host of domestic fighters from competing for their own national titles as a professional due simply and sadly to the colour of their skin.

“Introduced almost in a fit of transatlantic pique by the semi-aristocratic owners and members of the National Sporting Club that ran British boxing at the time, the ban, informal at first but effective nevertheless, ran from 1911 until 1947, when pressure from papers, public and even Parliament forced the British Boxing Board of Control to repeal a clause they had embraced unquestionably on their formation as the governing body of the sport in 1929.

“For almost four decades, Britain was aligned with South Africa as the only countries in the world that prohibited black fighters from becoming national champions in their own country. The ban continued throughout the First and Second World Wars – the self-evident and tragic contradiction of the latter being one of the main reasons why calls for it to be repealed became so vociferous from 1944 onwards.

“My presentation touches on all these aspects, showing how wider social, economic and political arguments were used to highlight both the reasoning behind the ban’s introduction, and the rationale for its eventual abolition. In so doing, I will showcase a number of key individuals who, up until now, have rarely been referred to by historians of Black culture in Britain as well as the wider, and ever expanding, sports historian network”.

Find out more about Black History Month and our programme of free events throughout October.

Welcome to Black History Month

1 October 2015 by Alison

legacy-gallery-visitor_3As we move into the month of October, Black History month in the UK, Mitty from the Education team tells us all about the events and fun, family friendly activities that are taking place at the museum. Read more…

Black Heroes comic book workshop

21 October 2014 by Mitty

comic book illustrations of heroes of Black history

This guest post is from Leah Moore, who will be encouraging International Slavery Museum visitors to get creative this half term in a special comics workshop on Wednesday 29 October:

“When the International Slavery Museum asked us to do a comics workshop on Black heroes, and get people making their own comics, we jumped at the chance. People associate comics with superheroes, but the medium is used just as often to tell real stories about real people. From biographies of heroic historical figures like Senator John Lewis’ ‘March’, to Joe Sacco’s journalistic accounts in ‘Palestine’, to touching stories of heroes from everyday life like Meet The Somalis , comics are the perfect way to tell any story. Read more…

Legacies of Slavery: A Writer’s Reflection on Blackness and Queerness

16 October 2014 by Andrew

Professor Thomas Glave

How does a group of people come to terms with the legacy of centuries of enslavement? What is the effect of this legacy on the creation of an identity, and how does this group treat its gay and lesbian members?

Professor Thomas Glave (SUNY-Binghampton) has gained international praise for both his historical and literary work on race and sexuality studies, with a focus on the gay experience in Jamaica. Read more…

Penny Lane and the legacies of slavery

7 October 2014 by Sam

Penny Lane street sign in Liverpool

Kayleigh, a third year history student at Liverpool University who has a keen interest in slavery studies and African history, has written this guest blog post for Black History Month.

There is currently a series of free seminars at the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool, including several for Black History Month. You can also get involved in a number of free Black History Month talks and events at the International Slavery Museum and Museum of Liverpool throughout October.

“Though the mentioning of Penny Lane usually brings up thoughts of The Beatles, the famous street in suburban Liverpool has a lesser known history. It is believed to have been named after James Penny, an eighteenth century slave ship owner, merchant, and prominent anti-abolitionist. Read more…

Black History Month, James Clarke 1886-1946

21 October 2013 by Kay

October is Black History Month – which is a great opportunity to highlight local heroes like James Clarke.

James Clarke

James Clarke

James was born in British Guiana (now Guyana). When he was 14, he stowed away on a ship bound for Liverpool and was adopted by an Irish family living in the Scotland Road area.

James worked on the docks and joined Wavertree Swimming Club. He started teaching children to swim after rescuing many of them from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

James saved many locals from drowning in the Mersey and the docks, and taught countless others to swim. He was the first Black man to have a street named after him. Read more…

Black History Month is about the incredible impact of the Black diaspora on the world

11 October 2013 by Mitty

Elroy Josephz dancing

The story of influential dancer Elroy Josephz is explored in the exhibition ‘British dance: Black routes’. Image © Elroy Josephz archive, courtesy of Sue Lancaster and Steve Mulrooney

Black History Month, which we celebrate every October, is always a particularly busy time at the International Slavery Museum, and in the education team we are even busier! My untidy desk is proof of this.

Black History Month is great as it brings people to the museum who may not have had a chance to learn much about Black history before. Black history isn’t just about Transatlantic slavery but also the incredible impact people of the Black diaspora have had on the world.

Black heritage plays such an integral part in shaping Britain as we know it and I think that’s why it’s such an important month.

A part of me wishes that there wasn’t the need for Black History Month, that it could just be seen as part of British history. But with proposed plans recently (though these have now been revised) to take key Black historical figures from the national curriculum I think it’s ever more pressing that we celebrate October. Read more…

New exhibition celebrating Black British dancers

6 September 2013 by Lucy Johnson

A dancer from the Jiving Lindy Hoppers performing at the Merseyside Maritime Museum

This week we have been taking down Oil Boom, Delta burns: photographs by George Osodi at the International Slavery Museum. It’s always sad to see a display close, but also a chance to put up an exciting, new exhibition! Read more…

Elroy Josephs, a tribute

9 October 2012 by Andrew

Performer Elroy Josephs

Tributes to be paid to the life and work of Liverpool based performer Elroy Josephs (1939-1997).

As part of our Black History Month 2012 programme, the International Slavery Museum presents a tribute to actor and dancer, Elroy Josephs in an evening of movement and memories that celebrates the work and artistic achievements of the Liverpool-based artist.

Elroy, who arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1956 developed a ground breaking fusion of African-Caribbean and European dance styles that changed the way dancers and choreographers thought about movement. Central to this was his understanding of plantation slavery in the Caribbean and its colonial legacy. How he felt this history lived within him and informed his work and gave it the power and emotion he felt was essential for dance to have. Despite Elroy’s influence on British dance heritage, (he was the first Black dance tutor at a British University), his story is largely absent from the history of British Dance. Read more…

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