“All children should see themselves represented in the books they read”

And so the day finally arrived – on 3rd August our Director and long-standing Education Co-ordinator Jackie Ould logged off for the last time and headed into retirement.

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Jackie has been involved in our organisation since its inception. She originally met our founder Lou Kushnick when she was one of his American Studies students here at the University of Manchester.

In 1998 Lou was establishing the Resource Centre – an open access library of books about race and race relations, amassed during his academic and activist career. He asked Jackie, who by this point was a Black achievement and EAL (English as additional language) teacher for Manchester City Council, if she could help. She was, in her own words  ‘pretty sceptical really about how it was going to succeed’, but agreed to be involved and immediately started to think about the educational potential of the library:

I wanted to know how all of these academic books were at all relevant to that strand of my other life, if you like – and how we could make them relevant and applicable and useable in schools

She started to look at developing the collection for teaching purposes, but quickly realised the task would be bigger than that:

…we could buy books about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and any number of other African American heroes. But it was extremely hard to find any about Black British heroes, other than the occasional one like Mary Seacole. Very hard indeed to get those. So I wanted to know how does this connect with that other part of my life which is the teaching role? And how do we use this as an opportunity to start generating those materials… First of all buy them in if they exist, but if it doesn’t exist then logically, start making them.

This was the start of our outreach programme, which has always been much more than a just an outreach programme and is based on co-creating educational materials on BAME histories and experiences with the communities those histories and experiences come from.

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Lithuanian migrant experiences – Book review

By Jo Manby

Cheetham to Cordova: Maurice Levine – A Manchester Man of the Thirties, by Maurice Levine. Neil Richardson, Manchester: 1984

Whilst reading Shadows on the Tundra, a new release by Peirene Press of the testimony of a Siberian gulag survivor, I was reminded of a slim, privately published volume that I first read some years ago while working on book abstracts at the AIU Centre.

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Shadows on the Tundra, the story of the Lithuanian Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s horrifying experiences, is an incredibly important piece of international survival literature, belonging in the hallowed company of Anne Frank’s diaries, the works of Primo Levi and of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Cheetham to Cordova: A Manchester Man of the Thirties on the other hand provides the opportunity of a glimpse into the Lithuanian migrant experience here in the UK, as told autobiographically by Maurice Levine.

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Louise Da-Cocodia and the discrimination faced by black nurses in the infant days of the NHS – The 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush and the NHS.

Another great post based on our archives from the Archives+ Digital Journalist Volunteers – Louise Da-Cocodia and the Windrush Generation’s vital contribution to the NHS.

The summer of 2018 sees the 70th anniversary of two key moments in British history – the first wave of post-war mass immigration with the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948 and the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) on 5 July 1948. There would appear to be no obvious connection between the two, and yet, in its days of infancy, the NHS heavily relied on many of those who stepped off of the boat in Tilbury, their children and also the thousands who arrived in the years to come – all dubbed the ‘Windrush generation’.

When the Windrush docked in Tilbury, she brought with her approximately 492 people – most of whom were men, but also women and children – from the Caribbean, mainly from the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad. Invited by the British government to help ‘rebuild’ Britain after the destruction of war, the…

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The Windrush Generation – Euton Christian

The Archives+ Digital Journalists have been delving into our oral history collections to learn about experiences of the Windrush Generation here in Manchester. Here’s an insight into the life of one of the many ordinary/extraordinary members of this generation; Euton Christian.

You can learn more about Mr Christian in the Roots Oral History Project collection and the Exploring our Roots Collection.

This year marks seventy years since the Empire Windrush set sail from the West Indies and docked in the UK on June 22nd 1948.

Originally sent to bring servicemen who were on leave from the British armed forces back to the UK, because of the size of the ship, hundreds of others were offered the chance to join them on board to fill up space, for a £28 fee. These men were attracted to the idea of life in Britain for a variety of reasons; including the high unemployment rate in Caribbean countries, and Britain being presented throughout the education system as the loving mother-country filled with opportunities.

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre in Manchester Central Library has an extensive collection of material relating to those who came over on the Windrush from the West Indies and settled in Manchester, including several oral history projects. It was…

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Thank you Ms Ragland: A personal reflection on the royal wedding

A guest post today from Dr Noreen Mirza* with a personal reflection on this weekend’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 

Watching the royal wedding with my mother, sister and niece this weekend, my attention was firmly fixed on Doria Ragland, the mother of the bride. The wedding itself taught me two things: We have come so far, yet we have a lot to learn. Ms Ragland taught me so much more.

Not in her wildest dreams would her own mother – the grandmother of the bride – a black woman in a racially segregated society, forced to sit on a racially segregated bus, imagine that one day her daughter would be linking arms with the future King of England at the wedding ceremony of their children. The grace and decorum Ms Ragland possessed was truly inspiring and humbling. Raw emotions of love, pride and happiness were etched on her face. These are human emotions which are real, universal and transcend culture, religion, ethnicity and class.

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Image by Sue (www.flickr.com/people/29204155@N08/) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Dream big, aim high, fight hard: a call out to all rebel girls

This week we’re reblogging a review of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, from Jo’s new Floralia blog (well worth following!).

And if you like this book Jo also recommends:

Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1997
Blues legacies and black feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis, New York: Vintage Books, 1999
Michelle Obama by Robin S. Doak, London: Raintree, 2015
Malala Yousafzai by Claire Throp, London: Raintree, 2016

 

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Book: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo. First published in Great Britain by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin Books: 2017

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women is a book that brings together stories of women’s lives spanning human history and traversing the globe.

It’s where someone like Astrid Lindgren, Swedish writer born in 1907 and author of Pippi Longstocking (a much-loved children’s story about an archetypal rebel girl) can occupy the pages that follow Ashley Fiolek, the 27 year old American Motocross racer who does not let the fact that she was born hearing-impaired hold her back.

Where an archaeologist, Maria Reiche, born 1903, who left Germany to study the ancient Nazca lines of Peru, rolls up alongside Maria Montessori, physician and educator, who at the turn of the 20th century developed a new…

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The Legacy of Ahmed and Courage and Inspiration of his Mother

By Hannah

For International Women’s Day this year we’re sharing the story of Fatima Nehar Begum, the mother of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, who in the 30 years since Ahmed’s tragic death has led a number of extraordinary and positive developments, including building the Ahmed Iqbal Memorial School in Bangladesh.

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We explored and documented her story, among others, in our HLF supported Legacy of Ahmed project 2015-17. The resulting archive contains an extensive collection of oral history interviews with those who remember Ahmed, those who experienced the aftermath of his death and those involved in the many projects and initiatives that make up his legacy.

Read about Ahmed, Fatima and the archive that tells their story in our feature article on Archives Hub: https://blog.archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/2018/03/01/the-legacy-of-ahmed-archive-and-the-courage-and-inspiration-of-his-mother/

Sister Rosetta at Chorltonville

By Hannah

Did you know Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the ‘godmother of rock’n’roll’ performed at Chorlton railway station in 1964? She was one of a number of legendary blues musicians who played as part of the ‘Gospel and Blues Train’ – a one-off performance contrived by Granada Television, which included turning the station (which was roughly on the site of what is now Chorlton Metrolink stop) into a scene from the wild west, with crates, chickens, wanted posters, and a large sign temporarily renaming the station ‘Chorltonville’.

It’s a piece of history that was at risk of being forgotten, until the footage recently appeared on YouTube, including this film of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s performance (in the rain, just in case she was in doubt she was in the North of England…).

You can now read about this story in a beautiful new book we have produced and published in partnership with Chorlton High School.

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From Jamaica to England revisited – Blanche Blackwell and the joys of reading obituaries

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The Roving Reader Files

 

You may remember I invited us all on a journey From Jamaica to England a little while ago. We were accompanied by a whole range of individuals, learning about their experiences of migration as preserved in primary and secondary sources you can find right here in the Centre.

Educated and uneducated, men and women, Black and ‘middle-class brown’ – each had something significant to tell us about the hardships involved in giving up their homeland to travel across the seas to what you’d think might be a better future…

Well, I was reminded of our journey back in August as I leafed through some obituaries over breakfast. Now, what’s so good about obituaries? Not a lot, you’d think, given that their purpose is to tell all and sundry that yet another person has died. Whilst that might not be the best news we’ll ever hear, I have to say I’ve always found obituaries fascinating. As a kind of secondary source, sometimes they open up a window into a different world, a different era – just enough to spur us on to find out a little bit more.

And that’s what happened to me whilst I was eating my cornflakes, and I’d like to share that experience with you…

When we travelled from Jamaica to England, there was one community from which we heard nothing directly, although despite it’s small size, it has influenced the lives of everyone who’s ever called Jamaica home. Which community was that? The white community. This fact struck me like a bolt from the blue as I realised I’d begun to read the obituary of a white Jamaican who died aged 104 – Blanche Blackwell.

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From Manchester to Belarus

Julie met Frank Pleszak at Polish Heritage Day back in May, and was fascinated to hear about the hidden histories he has uncovered, whilst researching his father’s experiences as a Polish refugee in the Second World War. Here he talks about his family, his research and his ongoing relationship with his father’s land.

I was born in Manchester and have lived and worked here all my life. I’m proud to be a Mancunian. I love it when people ask me where I’m from and I can say Manchester.

But my surname clearly isn’t local. My mum was from Salford but my dad, who died in 1994, was Polish. He never spoke much about his early life, I know he’d fought in Italy at the famous battle of Monte Cassino but it wasn’t until after his death that I began to think about why he was here in Manchester, why he’d been in Italy, and why he hadn’t gone back home to Poland after the war. I had no idea of the monumental series of events, together with World War Two, that had created me a Mancunian.

At the house my dad lived in until his arrest in 1939

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