Saturday 1 October was the first Call Out event for the Lost Legends project. The aim of the day was for people involved in the project to meet members of the public who would like to share their memories of Black History Month in Leicester and to bring their memorabilia for the expanding Lost Legends archive. At 12 noon the Serendipity team; staff, volunteers, board members were all there and I was pretty nervous wondering who would answer the Call. But there was nothing worry about as fifteen members of the public arrived to share their stories. I gave a presentation about the research so far and the gaps in knowledge – there are very few recordings of the stories of the African and Caribbean Communities in Leicester in the archives; something this project would like to change. In addition, we are also missing are the brochures of Black History Month from 1987 to 1997. Copies of the more recent brochures can be found in the Records office in Wigston and at the Leicester City Council.
A key theme of the research is about Black-led organisations of the 1980s. Everyone Serendipity talks to speaks about the difference these organisations have made to them – LUCA, LACAF, Anjali Women and Girls association, Spectrum, The Carnival and Raddle Bookshop. They influenced how Black History Month has evolved in Leicester. Pawlet Brookes the Executive Artistic Director of Serendipity spoke passionately about Raddle Bookshop. It was definitely more than a just a place to go and pick up a novel. Besides stocking books which were difficult to find elsewhere it was a place for meetings and discussion. Dion Hanna, an elder and retired lawyer, also spoke about Raddle’s which he described as a ‘think-tank’ and a place he had many a discussion with the late Wolde Selassie, an activist and poet in he held in high regard. Trevor Locke spoke about LACAF and how the organisation had created a directory of Leicester based artists and former Lord Mayor, Ted Cassidy suggested we also look at sport organisations such as the Highfield Rangers.
Elaine Hinds who arrived in Leicester in the 1960s shared her memories of being the first and only Black telegraphist in Leicester and she generously gave us a number of items to copy: A variety of telegram cards and photographs of herself at work and with a group of other workers and the mayor at city function. A group travelled all the way from Birmingham to contribute to the passionate discussion. There was some heated debate about what Black History should focus on.
The day ended on a high. The discussion and debate around Black History underlined the importance of this project. One of its outcomes will be a reflection on the complexity of perspectives. The next Call Out will be on 11 February 2017.
Watch this space for more information.
In the meantime – if you know where the brochures of Black History Month form the 1980s and 1990s are, give me a call…