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…
This summer I was fortunate to meet Marilyn Young, when she made her second visit to Liverpool. Marilyn is an independent researcher from the US, whose interest in Black diasporic communities has taken her all over the world.
In this guest blog, Marilyn describes how retracing cities along the Atlantic has led to her personal Sankofa journey.
“I was born in the state of Alabama so naturally I’m familiar with the topic of the transatlantic slave trade. But visiting Liverpool for the first time 10 years ago struck me and in many ways started my Sankofa journey.
I saw what my ancestors experienced from another side of the Atlantic and this piqued my interest to dig deeper. Read more…
This week’s blog is by Yazz Vanducci, Education Demonstrator at the Museum. It highlights our events for Black History Month, as well as updating you on what’s happening for families! –
“What a busy time it’s been for the team at the International Slavery Museum! Firstly, we celebrated Slavery Remembrance Day (our 18th one) on 23 August and now we are in Black History Month.
Before I mention what’s going on for Black History Month, I would like to tell you some the new and exciting projects our team have been working on.
These include new family sessions exploring African myths and legends where we look at the many different stories from all over Africa and then create some of the characters from the stories.
You can also come to our gallery and learn about the Underground Railroad and some of the heroic journeys that people undertook as well as the people themselves like Harriet Tubman and William and Ellen Craft. Read more…
About a month ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bee Tajudeen and Cynthia Silveria when they were up visiting Liverpool and popped into the International Slavery Museum. Bee is the founder of Black Blossoms, she and tell us about the organisation and their incredible exhibition which is on until 30 September in the Royal Standard in Liverpool. Artist Merrissa Hylton also talks about her work which is featured as part of the display.
Black Blossoms, an organisation which aims to amplify the voices of Black women in the creative industries, have begun their art exhibition tour across the UK. Their first location is The Royal Standard Gallery in Liverpool. The exhibition explores socio-political issues, feminism and self love from the perspective of self identifying Black women artists, living in Britain in 2017. Read more…
Heritage consultant Heather Roberts will be leading our Tell your story- How to archive workshop on Saturday – the latest of our fantastic free Sankofa project events. You can book your place by following the link here.
Heather tells us about some of the really interesting work she’s been doing in Manchester to support communities uncovering their own hidden histories:
“On the Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians project with Manchester Histories, I am working with five community groups on a wonderful archive project. I am guiding them through the process of finding, valuing and displaying their history.
One such organisation is Oldham Youth Council. They wish to reveal the heritage and histories hidden in their members’ families to highlight how diversity makes for stronger teams with shared goals. Read more…
22 August 2017 by Richard
This year from the 22 – 23 August the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 18th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations during our 10th anniversary. This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of contemplative, commemorative and celebratory events. On Tuesday 22nd the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, tireless anti-slavery campaigner and historian who sadly passed in 2013.
The keynote speaker at our annual event is someone who focuses on a historical theme, and possibly challenge often accepted narratives of history, in a constructive and inspiring way or someone who like the Museum campaigns against issues of social injustices. That is why this years speaker, Dr Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation and mother to Anthony, a young Black man brutally murdered in a racist attack in 2005 is an ideal speaker. I know Gee personally and it is quite extraordinary that her heart is not filled with hate but hope. It is therefore an honour to act as a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation that aims to promote racial harmony through education, sport and the arts, promoting the celebration of diversity and personal integrity and the realisation of potential of all young people
I am looking forward to hearing Gee talk about Anthony and her work and her daughters Dominique and Stephanie who have been integral to the work of the Foundation and championing hate crime reporting in the city. Dominique once made one of the most moving statements I have heard in my role when she described the Anthony Walker Education Centre located within the Museum as “My brother’s room”. This showed how important our work is. Dominique and Stephanie will be part of a Q & A chaired by BBC Radio Merseyside Producer and Presenter Ngunan Adamu.
We have many free events over the two days but one of the most important is the libation ceremony which remembers and pays homage to the ancestors, many taken from their families, friends and homelands in Africa as part of the barbarous transatlantic slave trade that helped build many cities such as Liverpool. I hope you can join us.
See the full programme of all our Slavery Remembrance Day events here.
The International Slavery Museum is 10. We have had such a journey, done so many things, and met so many people; been involved in controversies, and literally changed people’s lives. So how do you write a blog about all that? Well it’s difficult, so let me take you back to 2008 when we launched our first anniversary exhibition rather unsurprisingly titled ‘We Are One’. As part of the introduction text I wrote the following:
“Integral to the Museum’s interpretation of the story of transatlantic slavery is a belief that Africans, despite their oppression, were the main agents of their own liberation. We hope we represent their stories faithfully. The Museum also sees itself as an active campaigner against racism and discrimination today, and we work closely with a number of human rights organisations. Our Education Centre is named in memory of Anthony Walker, the Black Liverpool teenager who was murdered in 2005… We hope you have been inspired positively by your visit today.” Read more…
2 August 2017 by Sarah
This Saturday (5 August), come and explore self-publishing as a creative method of activism in our free workshop on zine-making! Inspired by our Art of Solidarity exhibition, which closes this weekend. Here, Seleena Laverne Daye, who will be running the event, blogs about zines, identity and activism: Read more…
31 July 2017 by Stef
As we come to the final weeks of Art of Solidarity, an exhibition of vibrant Cuban posters from the 1960s and 70s showing solidarity with African liberation movements including the opposition to South African Apartheid and Angola’s fight for independence, we will be taking inspiration from these revolutionary Cuban poster artists to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in events that aim to further explore the capacity of art forms to be a powerful tool of activism and a means to create dialogue.
For the closing weekend of Art of Solidarity, we will be exploring activism through self- publishing, in an artist-led workshop delivered by Manchester based zine-maker Seleena Laverne Daye.
A zine is a small circulation, self- published work, normally produced very cheaply using a photocopier and distributed through friends, fairs or by sale online. A zine can cover any topic from politics, popular culture, film, photography, history, food to perzines (personal zines), which focus on the individual experiences of the writer. Due to the lack of censorship within this medium, zines can also offer their authors an empowering platform to challenge established narratives and share their views with others, arguably forming an important record of social history that may explore viewpoints that are marginalised in mainstream media channels. Read more…