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Celebrating a fashion icon: Lois K Alexander Lane

12 October 2018 by Sarah

Lois K Alexander Lane. Credit: Courtesy of Susan McNeill and the Estate of Robert H. McNeill

We are honoured to have a guest blog from Joyce Bailey, daughter of the late Lois K Alexander Lane who is celebrated on our Black Achievers Wall at the Museum.

As a young girl, Lois K Alexander would look in boutique store windows and sketch the clothes she liked. She was clearly gifted, but not allowed to go in the stores to buy anything because of her race.  She later set out to dispel the myth ‘that Blacks were new found talent in the fashion industry’ and studied for a Master’s Degree from New York University. From there, her career in fashion was unstoppable. Read more about the incredible Lois K Alexander Lane, with thanks to her family:

“My mother was born Lois Marie Kindle in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 11, 1916. I have been told everyone knew she was destined for greatness.”

Lois K Alexander Lane. Credit: Courtesy of Susan McNeill and the Estate of Robert H. McNeill

“As a young girl, she would go downtown, look in boutique store windows and sketch the garments she favored. She was not allowed to go in the stores to buy anything because of her race. Mom purchased fabric and notions from the Five & Dime stores which she took home and produced garments similar to the ones she sketched. She made clothing for her mother, two sisters and her doll babies.

“Mom graduated from Virginia’s Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) and in the 1940s came to Washington, DC and began a career in the federal government. Starting as a clerk-stenographer for the War Department in 1942 and ending her tenure in 1978 as a Planning and Community Development Officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“In the 1960s, after being told by a New York University professor that Blacks had not made any contributions to the fashion world, she set out to dispel the myth that Blacks were new found talent in the fashion industry. She received her Master’s Degree from New York University. Her thesis title was “The Role of the Negro in Retailing in New York City from 1863 to the Present” (1963).

Lois K Alexander Lane, honoured on the Museum’s Black Achiever’s Wall

“Mom established two custom wear boutiques – one in Washington, DC (The Needle Nook) and one in New York City (Lois K. Alexander & Co.). In 1966, she founded the Harlem Institute of Fashion, an educational institute that offered free courses to students interested in dressmaking, millinery and tailoring. In the same year she founded the National Association of Milliners, Dressmakers and Tailors.

“In 1979, she founded The Black Fashion Museum (BFM) in New York City, committing the rest of her life to telling the world about the centuries of contributions women and men of the African Diaspora have made to fashion and design.”

Find out more about our Black Achievers Wall as well as all the free events we have lined up for Black History Month in the UK this October.

Journey to Justice, DIY activism

5 October 2018 by Andrew Bullock

Over here zine fest poster

Over here zine fest poster

In addition to celebrating historic civil rights activists, International Slavery Museum’s exciting new exhibition Journey to Justice also aims to raise awareness of the ways that the fight for social justice can be continued and led by people like us. To showcase the fantastic work of activists working within DIY self-publishing networks, we invited Over Here Zine Fest to curate a selection of zines by BAME artists and writers. Here, Heena Patel discusses their involvement in organising Over Here Zine Fest and selecting the zines for the exhibition. Read more…

Teacher’s Evening – Get Involved!

24 September 2018 by Matt

Children in Museum

School visit

Want your class to experience a bit of hard work – Victorian style?  Ever fancied packing them off permanently on a ship to faraway climes?  Here’s your opportunity to find out how we can make this happen! Read more…

Making Civil Rights & Freedom Fights

23 August 2018 by Stef

Dorothy Kuya - Civil Rights and Freedom Fights card.

Dorothy Kuya – Civil Rights and Freedom Fights card.

This Slavery Remembrance Day, join International Slavery Museum Young Ambassadors and artist Hwa Young Jung (http://slyrabbit.net/) of Re-Dock (http://re-dock.org/) to find out more about civil rights movements in Britain and the USA and try out their ‘Civil Rights and Freedom Fights’ card game. Here, project artist Hwa Young Jung discusses the process of creating the game.  

Read more…

Do you know why this porthole is important?

22 August 2018 by Sarah

We walk over and through some sites of historical significance on the Walk of Remembrance, including this porthole over the Old Dock.

Are you joining us on the Walk of Remembrance this year? Every year thousands of people come together with us to make a special journey through Liverpool city centre.

People from all walks of life join the procession of reflection and take part in a public Libation service at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool to mark International Slavery Remembrance Day on 23 August – the date of the first successful revolution of enslaved Africans on the island of Saint Domingue (Modern Haiti) in 1791. This uprising led to the founding of an independent free country and inspired the fight for abolition across the globe.

We walk over and through some sites of historical significance on our Walk. Here, our Visitor Host, Daniel Wright, talks about the porthole in Liverpool One:

As I attend the walk of remembrance on 23rd of August (I hope to see you there! ) I will be very aware that the majority of people making the walk through the city centre may not know the significance of what is below their feet when they walk past the little porthole next to John Lewis.

On this journey toward Liverpool’s waterfront, people will pass the small porthole outside the store. It actually provides the viewer with a glimpse of the Old Dock, the world’s first commercial, enclosed wet dock.

Liverpool’s Old Dock was designed by 18th century civil engineer Thomas Steers. The importance of this dock is not to be underestimated. When it opened in 1715, due to its revolutionary gate system it was the most efficient dock on the planet. A ship could load or unload its cargo within a day and a half and be ready to go back out to sea. This was a vast improvement to the usual two week turn over period at the time. As a result commercial trade increased quickly and Liverpool became a major world trading port.

The new efficient dock system strengthened Liverpool’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This unfortunately meant that Liverpool became a main port within the ‘Transatlantic Trade Triangle’. This horrendous triangle of trade was the foundation to the town’s prosperity and development.

Slaver Ships would leave Liverpool and journey to  West Africa where traders in enslaved Africans were responsible for Liverpool seizing over 50% of the British trade. From there, millions of Africans were enslaved and transported to the Americas in horrific conditions. On arrival, the enslaved Africans would be sold and forced to work on plantations.

Liverpool slaver ships would return months later, carrying expensive and highly sort after commodities. These included sugar, tobacco, cocoa, cotton, coffee and rum.

Legacies of Liverpool’s links with the transatlantic slave trade are still around today. Street names such as Gildart Street, Bold Street and even the famous Penny Lane are all named after Liverpool traders. A detailed list can be seen in the International Slavery Museum on the third floor of the Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool.

It’s quite poignant that our route toward Liverpool’s waterfront will echo the exact same route slaver ships followed centuries before…

If you would like to join the Walk of Remembrance, we are meeting at 11am on 23 August at the Church street bandstand (Liverpool City Centre). The Walk will finish at the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building, Royal Albert Dock, where we will hold a Libation, an ancient spiritual ceremony, at 12noon. Full details of this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day events.

A green resistance: plants and enslavement

10 August 2018 by Sarah

pale yellow flower

The design for this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day posters

Have you seen the new design for our Slavery Remembrance Day posters and leaflets this year?

They are all around the city centre and waterfront promoting Slavery Remembrance Day and the Unity Carnival.

A big, pale yellow flower sits in the middle of a black background.

Have you wondered why we have used this image? There are two reasons:

First, and for the first year ever, we have added a theme to the programme of celebration, commemoration and remembrance we hold annually for Slavery Remembrance Day. And that theme is ‘growth’. Many of our events will explore that idea this year.

This year’s design is related to growth, because the pale yellow flower on our new posters is actually the okra flower. We all know, and many of us will eat, the green vegetable – but maybe don’t recognise the flower.  Read more…

Last chance to vote for us!

26 July 2018 by Richard

A World Cup final, Wimbledon final  – and on Friday, the last chance to vote for the International Slavery Museum for this year’s National Lottery Fund Good Causes Award – July has it all.

If we are to judge the success of a museum by the amount of trophies and prizes it has been awarded though; it would in my view miss the point. And in our case this is good as we have technically not ‘won’ that much these past 10 years even though our work and ethos – and in particular our educational programmes with young people – are globally recognised and seen as exemplars within the field of museums and social justice.

Now an honourable mention by The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence in 2009 was marvellous. It was good for team morale and an acknowledgement of the work of our partners and supporters. And only last month the Museum received the 2018 UNI Global Union Freedom from Fear award for our work within the field of human rights and modern-day slavery and enslavement. UNI Global Union represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions.

But for me being a recipient of an award that recognizes our work with young people – the future of an inclusive and democratic society – who visit a museum space and have an experience that stays with them for a lifetime; now that is some achievement.  Help it happen by voting for us. We have done so much these past 10 years, often working on difficult and challenging subjects, and we are proud to say we have made a difference – maybe just a small one – but enough to say we have made Liverpool, the UK and hopefully many places around the world more tolerant, more inclusive, and better informed.

You can vote for us here or by Tweeting with the hashtag #NLAIntSlaveryMuseum. Voting closes at midnight on Friday 27 July 2018. Thank you for your support.

Behind the scenes at Brazilica

11 July 2018 by Sarah

International Slavery Museum Young Ambassador, Lois South, had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Liverpool Carnival Company and interview their Director Maeve Morris. Find out more about Lois’ experience here:

“Upon entering The Old Library on Lodge Lane, I was hit by a whirlwind of feathers, sequins and, of course, glitter! The once unused space has been transformed into what I can only describe as a factory of wonders, where founders Maeve and Roger Morris, churn out costumes and floats in every conceivable colour, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.  Read more…

Vote for us in the National Lottery Awards!

27 June 2018 by Sam

Visitor in the International Slavery Museum with overlaid hashtag #NLAIntSlaveryMuseum and National Lottery Awards

We need your help! The International Slavery Museum have been shortlisted in the National Lottery Awards in the Best Education Project category. We would love to win – for our visitors and the city of Liverpool. But we can’t do it without you – please vote for the International Slavery Museum on the National Lottery Awards website. Voting is open from Wednesday 27 June until Friday 27 July 2018.

You can also vote for us on Twitter by using the hashtag #NLAIntSlaveryMuseum. Anyone who tweets this hashtag or retweets a post containing this hashtag will register a vote. Only one vote per account is allowed regardless of how many times you tweet or retweet.

The annual National Lottery Awards celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded projects have made to communities across the UK.

The International Slavery Museum has attracted more than four million visitors since it opened in 2007 and aims to increase the understanding of transatlantic and chattel slavery and their enduring legacies through education, collections, research and public engagement programmes.  Read more…

Through My Eyes

26 June 2018 by Sarah Han

Photograph by Charleigh

As one of the education managers at Seized! The National Border Force Museum I have the privilege of working with lots of different people of all ages in a number of different ways, including staff, visitors, school groups and families. It can be hectic at times but certainly the variety keeps me interested and the energy and enthusiasm of the groups I work with spurs me on to share that interest and enthusiasm with our visitors. Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.