As part of our International Women’s Day and #Vote100 programme, our visitors worked with textiles artist Seleena Daye to create a banner celebrating inspiring female abolitionists who fought to end slavery.
In this blog, Seleena shares the processes she used to create the banner and more about the inspiring women who are featured.
“So much of what we read around slavery and the abolition of it is very male centric, so to sit down with a bunch of women of all ages and celebrate through a medium often deemed as ‘women’s work’ was a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.
“The reasons why each participant made the piece they did were so varied, from the felt portrait of Sojourner Truth, which was made as a personal challenge to the creator as it was something she had never done and didn’t think she could do. To the embroidered portrait of the Forten Sisters, which was chosen because the creator of that piece is herself 1 of 3 sisters? The Mary Prince piece was chosen because Mary Prince came from Bermuda, like the grandparents of another attendee. Even the piece including an afro comb has a connection both to the creator and to slavery, bringing up discussions around Black hair and the heritage of hairstyles, for example around cornrows being used by enslaved women who, rarely being allowed time or opportunity to do their hair, may have desired a style that would last.
“When bringing the contributions together into a finished piece, I added imagery of other women abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Ellen Craft and also explored ways in which people escaped from enslavement, through the Underground Railroad, quilt codes and navigating escape using constellations. There is the quilt code included in the banner, that meant ‘follow the North Star’ and the constellation in the centre is of The Big Dipper which features the North Star.
“In the banner’s corner are some dates, ‘1865 – 2018’, making reference to the date of abolition in the United States of America, and the words ‘Keep Fighting For Freedom’ sitting next to a portrait of Malala Yousafazi, who is a modern day female activist fighting for the freedom of young girls, pointing out that POC are still not truly free. In the opposite corner sits a square with bananas and a cotton plant, things we use today, that one time were picked by the hands of enslaved people, and in some cases still picked by people who don’t have basic human rights.
“I have also included coloured hessian within the banner to represent the goods being packed into hessian sacks, to indigo and African batik inspired fabrics that are a nod to the continent enslaved people were taken from, Africa. I hand dyed the centre piece fabric which was originally a pale blue cotton. I dyed one end green and the other midnight blue, signifying the huge journey many people took, from earth to the sky. The central image of the banner is a silhouette of a woman in shackles under the slogan ‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ which is inspired by abolition imagery used by campaigners at the time, but can also be a message that rings true today.
“It was such a pleasure to be able to create something so important amongst other women who stitched and spoke of solidarity and hardships and how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go.
We are women and sisters.”
Our new female abolitionists banner is here at the International Slavery Museum within the Anthony Walker Education Centre.
This workshop was part of our Adult Creative Offer.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr, International Slavery Museum are hosting a two week public display of graphic design and illustration created by students and staff at Liverpool John Moores University in response to the museum’s civil rights and legacies of slavery collections.
Hop along to your local museum for a free dose of Easter fun! We have a fantastic selection of events, activities and new exhibitions there’s something for everyone to be ‘egg-cited’ about at National Museums Liverpool this Easter. Read more…
The new additions include an inspirational list of women from various professions and backgrounds who have been – and are – pioneers.
From the first Black woman to have a film produced by a major Hollywood studio to the first Black woman to sit in the cabinet of the UK government, these achievers have set the bar for future generations to aspire to.
We are also pleased to announce two Liverpool based achievers, Michelle Charters, CEO of the Kuumba Imani Centre and Councillor Anna Rothery, Mayoral Lead for Equalities, who continue to support the BAME communities in the city and actively fight ongoing discrimination and prejudice.
The full list is:
- Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock
Scientist, educator and science advocate. Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an honorary research fellow in University College London’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2009 she received an MBE for her services to science and education. In 2014 she became co-presenter of the long-running TV programme The Sky at Night.
- Baroness Valerie Amos
Born in British Guiana (now Guyana), she became the first Black woman to sit in the UK Cabinet when Secretary of State for International Development in 2003. She served as UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and in 2015 became Director of SOAS University of London
- Michelle Charters
Community Activist and CEO of Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre in Toxteth, Liverpool The multi-purpose centre was the vision of the Liverpool Black Sisters, an organisation formed in the 1970’s to address the many forms of discrimination experienced by the Black community. She is the Founding Chair of the Merseyside Black History Month Group and first Black woman to be appointed a Trustee of the Everyman & Playhouse Theatres in Liverpool
- Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm
Brooklyn born politician and educator who became the first Black US congresswoman. A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and National Women’s Political Caucus. In 1972 she campaigned for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
- Lois K. Alexander Lane
Arkansas born founder of the Harlem Institute of Fashion (1966) and the Black Fashion Museum in New York City (1979). The Institute offered free courses on dressmaking, millinery and tailoring. Lane wrote Blacks in the History of Fashion (1982) which dispelled the myth that Black people were newcomers to the fashion industry.
- Wangari Maathai
Internationally renowned Kenyan environmental activist and politician. Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement empowering local communities to work together to combat de-forestation and protect their environment and their future. In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, for ‘her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’.
- Zanele Muholi
Photographer and visual activist. Zanele Muholi aims to use her photography to effect social change. An ardent advocate of LGBT+ communities everywhere, she has become known globally with her series of pioneering portrait photography of South Africa’s LGBT+ communities. Her work is represented in museums and collections around the world.
- Euzhan Palcy
Martinique born film director, writer and producer. The first Black director to win a French César award for the acclaimed 1983 film Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres). In 1989 she was the first Black woman to have a film produced by a major Hollywood studio. The film, A Dry White Season, looked at the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa
- Paulette Randall
London born theatre and television director. A former Artistic Director of the Black led Talawa Theatre Company; Paulette Randall has directed and produced numerous productions, including collaborating on the spectacular opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. She received an MBE in 2015 for her services to drama.
- Anna Rothery
Labour Councillor for Princes Park Ward in Liverpool since 2006. Anna Rothery has been active in promoting participation of BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities in civic life. She became the first Liverpool Councillor to speak on the floor at the United Nations in 2012 and was made Mayoral Lead for Equalities with specific responsibility for race equality in 2017.
National Museums Liverpool is marking International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) with a programme of free exhibitions and events on the day and the following weekend (Saturday 10 and 11 March).
Through exhibitions, talks, workshops and poetry there are a variety of ways for everyone to get involved and celebrate this important date.
15 February 2018 by Scott Smith
February marks the start of the new lunar year, and it’s during this time that millions of people across the world will gather to celebrate Chinese New Year. Starting on 16 February, we’ll have seven days of joyous festivities filled with fireworks, lanterns and revelry as the city is lit up in red.
This year is the beginning of the Year of the Dog, defined by the Chinese zodiac cycle. Dogs are the eleventh sign in the zodiac and are seen as independent, sincere and decisive. Honest and loyal, dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partners. Those born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 all fall under the year of the dog.
To celebrate man’s most faithful of friends, we’ve pulled together a list of dogs from across National Museums Liverpool’s collections and exhibitions.
‘Table d’Hote at a Dogs’ Home’ by John Charles Dollman
12 January 2018 by Stef
Find out more about the fantastic family events coming up at International Slavery Museum with Education Demonstrator Yazz:
“I hope you all enjoyed visiting the International Slavery Museum in 2017. Dorcas Seb’s spoken work performance for Human Rights Day was a highlight of the year for me! What was your highlight of 2017?
It’s a new year and there are more exciting events to come as part of our 10th anniversary programme- I think that 2018 might even prove to be our best year yet!
We have some fantastic special events coming up for families and our younger visitors. Are you looking for fun, free activities for all the family? If so, now is the time to sit back, relax with a cup of tea and let me tell you what events are coming up for you.
January is packed with creative family workshops and you can even join us to learn new skills in two amazing artist-led workshops. Read more…
21 December 2017 by Adam
The International Slavery Museum is collaborating with experienced artists from a variety of specialities in order to offer a rolling series of free adult art workshops for ages 16+.
There are boundless creative and therapeutic benefits to participating in adult art workshops (as well as all of the fun we have doing them). So what better way is there to explore our world class collections? Read more…
Today we have a guest blog by Peter Banasko. He is writing about his father, also called Peter Banasko – a Liverpool lad who became a world-class boxer and was asked to fight before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale. He later became an incredibly successful coach and manager. However, Peter also grew up during the era of the Colour Bar and this blog highlights the prejudices he faced. It is a fascinating local and community history and we wanted to run it during Black History Month. With thanks to the Banasko family for submitting it to us:
Peter Emmanuel Banasko 1915-1993
“Peter Banasko was born and grew up in Liverpool. He was the only child of a mixed marriage. His father, Isaac Immanuel Banasko came from the Gold Coast, Ghana. His mother Lillian Banasko, nee Doyle, came from Liverpool.
“He was named in the birthday celebration of 800 people who put Liverpool on the map. (Liverpool Echo 28/08/2007)
“He attended St. Malachy’s School and started his amateur boxing in 1929 at the famous St. Malachy’s boxing gym. By the time he was 14 he had participated in over 100 fights. At the age of 13, having over 40 undefeated contests to his credit, he claimed the distinction of being the first Liverpool boxer to bring home to Liverpool a British Title by becoming the schoolboy champion of Great Britain in 1929 and again in 1930.
“He was invited to box before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale.
“At 17 he turned professional under the management of the Liverpool Stadium Promoter, Johnny Best Senior.
“Some said he was the best of the best but unfortunately for Banasko he fought during the era of the infamous ‘Colour Bar’ that forbade any non-white fighter from contesting for a national title. Again this vicious prejudice was evidenced in his marriage to Margaret McNerney, a Liverpool girl. A 300 signature petition was actioned to try and stop this marriage; it was unsuccessful.
“He was the first black manager/trainer in Liverpool, indeed in the UK. He was a friend of Douglas Collister (United Africa Co.) and also Jack Farnsworth (British West Africa CO). Because of this by the early 1950s Banasko and Liverpool were a household names in Lagos.
“His reputation as an excellent manager spread to the Gold Coast.
“According to the boxing purists at that time the black boxers fought in a distinct ‘unscientific’ style; they failed to master ‘the noble art’. However, their performances in the ring soon shattered these stereotypes. Banasko was a contributing factor in this change of opinion. When opposing boxers where facing the ‘Banasko camp’ it was not the boxer they feared but Banasko because of his knowledge and expertise.
“Banasko gained the rank of sergeant with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His request for a commission was turned down. He was advised he would stand a better chance of a commission if he joined the Indian Army!
“This prejudice came up again when Hogan Kid Bassey won the British Empire Featherweight title. He told Banasko in the dressing room after the fight that he wanted a change of manager. Bassey had been convinced that he would not get any further in his career under a black manager. Banasko, disgusted with this prejudice and gutted by Bassey’s disloyalty, parted from the sport he loved.
“Ian Hargraves in his article in the Liverpool Echo (November 30th 1993) ‘Salute to boxing’s unsung hero’ on his death in November 1993 summed it up completely by stating:
Peter Banasko… a rare talent – one of the true greats’ “.
If you enjoyed this blog, you might be interested in our Black History Month events throughout October.
Have you seen the Timalle artwork in our Ink and blood; Stories of abolition exhibition yet? It features draft reparations forms and is a re-enactment, through sculpture and performance, of the enslavement process. It is the first time this piece of contemporary art has been displayed in Europe. Come and see it for yourself at the International Slavery Museum. Or you can also watch an extract of Timalle film, by Francois Piquet, and listen to him blogging about why he created his artwork, and what it means: Read more…