National Museums Liverpool's Black History Month Hub Update

Thu, October 29th, 2020

More blogs, features and stories have been added to the National Museums...

More blogs, features and stories have been added to the National Museums Liverpool Black History Month Hub, celebrating the achievements of the Black community and exploring its history. The hub features a wide range of online content along with news about in-venue displays. The hub will now remain online into NOVEMBER so it can continue to be accessed and added to as an important and useful resource.

New Content Highlights

Opinion: Black History Month - A time to be heard

“…I would love to say we now live in a society where we no longer need this month, where the achievements and contributions of British Black people to British society is simply part of British history. But, we don’t live in a perfect world.”

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, talks about why Black History Month is so important in challenging and dispelling dangerous ideas, and how until Black History becomes part of the National Curriculum, it’s a vital portal to our mixed and diverse global history.

Read Dr Benjamin’s thoughts here: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/stories/black-history-month-time-be-heard

In Focus: Angela finds ‘her city’ and success

“My daughter told me about the International Slavery Museum. I didn’t quite grasp it and then she had to spell it out: ‘Mum, there’s a Black museum!’ We went there and it was like I was in a different world…I just thought wow, I’ve found my city.”

When Angela Palmer moved from Slough to Liverpool to pursue her career as a greeting card maker and supplier, she didn’t know how deeply she would connect with the city’s Black culture and community and how working with National Museums Liverpool would be the springboard her business needed.

Read more about Angela's story, influences and heroes here

L8 Activism! New permanent display announced at Museum of Liverpool

Liverpool has a long history of supporting the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, most notably through the city’s student and trade union movement. By 1960, Liverpool City Council had announced a boycott of South African goods, followed by student protest campaigns and Liverpool dock-workers refusing to handle South African goods.

What is less well known is the strong connection between Nelson Mandela and the Black community of Toxteth, Liverpool 8, where he remains an important role model. In the 80s the people of L8 were tireless in their support of the anti-apartheid struggle. Coming soon, the Museum of Liverpool will host a new display highlighting the history of the community’s role in the anti-apartheid movement, and the fight to free Nelson Mandela.

You can read about the upcoming display here

Maheke’s ‘Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer *deep within*’ goes online

The Walker Art Gallery is delighted to display online Paul Maheke’s ‘Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer *deep within*’ to mark Black History Month this October for one month only. It is the first time the gallery has shown the artwork since it was acquired in 2017/18 with funding from the Contemporary Art Society.

Maheke’s practice encompasses performance, film, installation and sculpture, often reflecting on notions of identity and belonging. His recent work has particularly addressed and disrupted the representation of queer Blackness in Western art and culture.

See the video here

Uncovering the history of the Canning Graving Docks

In this new blog, Liz Stewart, Lead Curator for Archaeology and the Historic Environment at the Museum of Liverpool, reflects on the historic structures of the graving docks and their history and legacy. Ships were here readied for their next voyage, which for some was to West Africa to be loaded with people being forcibly transported to the Caribbean, America, and South America.

The team at National Museums Liverpool is keen to understand and explore the roots of why these structures were built, and the human suffering that is part of their story.

Read more here

In Focus: Captain Belinda Bennett

Belinda Bennett is the first woman to command a Windstar Cruises ship, and the first Black captain in the commercial cruise industry. Born in St. Helena, she enrolled as a deck cadet at 17, progressing rapidly through to the ranks to Third Officer. In September 2018, she was honoured with the UK’s Merchant Navy Medal for ‘Meritorious Service’, for services to the promotion of the maritime sector. Belinda has generously donated her uniform to the collection, and you can now see it on display for the first time in the Merseyside Maritime Museum’s new gallery ‘Life on Board’.

Read Belinda’s ‘In focus’ piece here

Opinion: Black Panther, Escapism or Afrofuturism?

Zachary Kingdon, Curator of African Collections for National Museums Liverpool, considers what inspired the Box Office smash, why it struck such an emotional chord with audiences and the roots of Afrofuturism and its search for alternate histories and utopian visions that challenge representations of the future shaped in the image of a dominant white culture.

Read Zachary’s opinion piece here

In Focus: Graman Kwasimukambe

Kwasi (also known as Kwasimukambe and Graman Quacy) was born in Ghana, West Africa around 1690. As a young man he was captured, enslaved and transported to Suriname, a Dutch colony in South America. There he was forced to work on the sugar plantations.

Around 1730, Kwasi discovered the medical properties of a plant which, when made into a tea, could treat fever and ward off parasites such as lice, fleas and mosquito larvae. In 1762 the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus - who devised the system by which we still name all plants and animals today - named the plant 'Quassia amara' in honour of him. A new display in World Museum features objects from our botanical collection - all Quassia amara – and tells us more about Kwasi.

Read more here

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