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Book Reviews Events and Activities Our library Thinking about collections Ways in to the collection

The Future is Ours: Afrofuturism in the AIU Centre

By Hattie

As part of Black History Month 2019, we hosted an event with writer, poet, and director Elmi Ali called ‘The Afrofuturist Toolkit’. During the workshop the participants explored the theories behind Afrofuturism and created some of their own work envisioning the future of society. Ali’s overarching message was that Afrofuturism can take any form and is all around us, demanding a space in the future for Black people defined by themselves. “It looks to the past to define and make sense of the future.” According to Ali, ‘ism’ can be understood to mean “how something could be”.

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Book Reviews Events and Activities Great Lives Opening the Archive Thinking about collections

Marika Sherwood, Kwame Nkrumah and the Pan-African Congress Archive

By Hattie

Upon the launch of her latest book, Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War, Marika Sherwood spoke yesterday on the topics of colonialism, communism and the importance of researching black history and activism at an event hosted by the AIU Centre. The talk was followed by an engaging Q&A and insightful discussion with members of the audience who shared Marika’s passion for research and black history.

Marika Sherwood speaking to a seated crowd of 15 people in Central Library
Marika Sherwood speaking at Central Library 30/4/19
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Events and Activities Opening the Archive Our library Related collections Thinking about collections

The 1945 Pan-African Congress: Manchester and the Fight for Equality

Holly Randhawa

What was the Pan-African Congress?

Held in Manchester in 1945, the 5th Pan-African Congress was part of a series of seven meetings, intended to address the decolonisation of Africa from Western imperial powers. Set within a new world order of international cooperation during the 1940s, the Congress demanded an end to colonial rule and racial discrimination, as well as the recognition of human rights and equality of economic opportunity for all peoples of African descent.

Photograph of Congress attendees
Photograph of Congress attendees, 1945 Pan-African Congress. Among the people to attend were George Padmore, W. E. B. Du Bois, Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah. Source: Pan-African Congress 1945 and 1995 Archive, GB3228.34
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Great Lives Our library

Carter G Woodson: The Father of Black History

Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history – Carter G Woodson

Manchester is gearing up for Black History Month (BHM) in October – take a look at the programme of events happening across the city on the BHMGM website. Out of our own events this year I’m especially excited about The Different Voices of Nina Simone poetry workshop and You Hide Me: African Art in British Museums film screening.

Although BHM has a distinctly cultural flavour, it has always been about education. Back in 1987 Akyaaba Addai-Sebo explained that October had been chosen as the UK’s BHM because in Africa it is traditionally a time of plenty, of reconciliation and of bequeathing wealth and knowledge to the next generation. This coincides nicely with the start of the British school year, when children’s ‘minds are refreshed and revitalised, so they can take in a lot of instruction’. Quite right.

Source: David from Washington, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Source: David from Washington, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The education of children was at the heart of the work of Carter G Woodson (1875 – 1950), the so-called ‘Father of Black History’ and founder of Negro History Week, the precursor to today’s US and UK Black History Months.

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Book Reviews Research skills Roving Reader

Reading James Jackson: Footnotes

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Last time we discovered who wrote the Centre’s edition of Memoir of James Jackson, and why. This time, I’d like to ask the pressing question:

Is there any point in footnotes?

Notes page
© University of Manchester

Academics among you might have written a few footnotes yourselves, and are now suddenly sporting wry smiles. Everyone else is perfectly entitled to be wondering what on earth I’m talking about. Footnote, endnote, twenty pound note? What’s the difference, except the last one buys you a few bars of chocolate and the others don’t?

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Book Reviews Research skills Roving Reader

Reading James Jackson: Who’s the author?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

IMG_1054
© University of Manchester

My inner voices were going at it hammer and tongues: “It’s just too confusing! Why does it have to have three names on the cover? Isn’t one enough? James, Susan, Lois…? Who wrote the book?”

Just look at this: Memoir of James Jackson, The attentive and obedient scholar, who died in Boston, October 31, 1833, aged six years and eleven months. By his teacher, Miss Susan Paul. Edited by Lois Brown. That’s the book’s title. Wouldn’t you be confused?

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Book Reviews Great Lives Thinking about collections

Behind Every Man…

Occasionally I come across a single issue of some journal or periodical on the shelf that appears to have no real relevance to race relations. This happened today when I spotted the October 1975 issue of The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (Washington DC, USA) in a pile of items waiting to be catalogued.

I’m a big fan of throwing things out – not the best attribute for someone who works in an archive you might think, but it doesn’t make sense to keep things that don’t contribute to our mission or that duplicate the holdings of other collections.

It was a lovely looking journal though, The Life and Age of Woman, highlighting the stories of ordinary and extraordinary women that can be found in the Library of Congress. So before I dropped it in the recycling bin I had a flick through.

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Book Reviews Our library

Up from History

Our cataloguer and book reviewer Jo takes a look at our large and ever-popular History section.

 

In our new position on the Lower Ground Floor, next to City Library, in the newly refurbished Central Library, we have retained the same subject sections for our books but the layout of our collection is much more light, airy and spacious. Following on from Education, I’ve been taking a fresh look at the History section.

IMG_0690

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Book Reviews Great Lives Research skills Roving Reader

So, Who is Nelson Mandela?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Do you like coffee table books? I know I do.

Sometimes there’s nothing nicer than picking up an outsize tome packed with illustrations, and relaxing with it over a coffee. Some are very light reads, others more substantial.

Cover of Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom

Strolling among the shelves of the Centre, I came across one of the more substantial kind – The Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (published 1996). Having seen the 2013 film based on his memoirs, I spent a happy couple of hours absorbed in fascinating pictures, trying to assess how accurate the cinema experience had been. Who was Nelson Mandela? If I wanted to get to know him, I’d surely meet him in these pages.

Or so I thought…

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Book Reviews Roving Reader

Only 12 Years a Slave?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Have you seen Steve McQueen’s Oscar and BAFTA-winning film 12 Years a Slave? If yes, you’ll know two things: one, it’s based on the true story of abducted free Black American Solomon Northup in the 1840s, and two, it’s not a barrel of laughs.

So to cheer you up, as an addendum to my last post, I’d like to highlight a couple of people featured in The Skull Measurer’s Mistake who made a stand against the kind of abuse Northup was subjected to – Granville Sharp and George Cable.

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Book Reviews From Jamaica to England Research skills Roving Reader

From Jamaica to England – Part 4: Adult literacy projects as primary sources

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

The fourth instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.

Louise Shore and Her Literary Ambitions

So far, we’ve learnt from intellectuals Una Marson and Joyce Gladwell, as we travel from Jamaica to England. But are you, like me, asking what our poor underprivileged companions have got to say?

Well, the disadvantaged have historically left few records of their own due to illiteracy, so if we’d asked that question even a hundred years ago, we’d probably have been told, “Not a lot. Hard cheese.”

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Book Reviews From Jamaica to England Research skills Roving Reader

From Jamaica to England – Part 3: Primary sources and the autobiography of a ‘Middle-Class Brown’

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

The third instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.

Joyce Gladwell Goes to London

Una Marson, through our secondary source, has given our Jamaica-to-England trip some context. Hurray! Now we can get comfortable, kick off our shoes, and learn a thing or two from the reminiscences of our companions. We’re going to thumb through some primary sources.

Primary sources come in many guises  –  letters, diaries, even old bus tickets, lists and catalogues. Archives are full of such things (often called manuscripts and ephemera), but for our journey, we’re going to look at the published variety; autobiographies  –  what people have written about themselves.

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Book Reviews From Jamaica to England Research skills Roving Reader

From Jamaica to England – Part 2: The secret of the secondary source

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

The next instalment in our Roving Reader’s journey from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.

Delia Jarrett-Macauley unearths Una Marson

When you’re planning a journey, what do you do?

Some people just throw a few things in a bag, jump on the first train and go to sleep. Others want to look out the window, take in the scenery and understand what they’re looking at. If this is you, you’re just the candidate to dip into a secondary source.

Secondary sources are wonderful things. Some are huge and fat, others quite slim. Nearly all are written by kind souls who love to inflict on themselves the hassle of assembling and making sense of piles of information, just so people like you and me can become enlightened. Secondary sources give us firm foundations for understanding the context and broad issues of a subject.

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From Jamaica to England Research skills Roving Reader

From Jamaica to England – Part 1: An invitation

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

In a new series of posts, our Roving Reader travels from Jamaica to England, through the primary and secondary sources in our library collection.

Here we are back after the break, having seen in another new year. Do any of you feel like going away for a holiday after all that exertion? I know I do. Just as well then, that in this series I’m inviting everyone on a voyage of imagination and discovery, from sunny Jamaica to dear old Blighty.

Image of boat sailing into the sunset

Now why would I do that? Well, as far as I’m concerned, the Centre is an ideal place to do a bit of research, and our journey will be a great excuse for getting stuck into introducing different types of published resources you’ll find here.

On the way we’ll find that each type has its own strengths, whether it’s a primary or secondary source, and each brings its own special perspective when read in conjunction with others. By taking a look at one or two examples in more detail we’ll start to see history spring to life, and we’ll meet Jamaicans who make their own unique contributions to the story of what it has meant to swap Jamaica for England.

By the end, I hope we’ll have greater insight into the triumphs and disasters of migration, as well as some of what the Centre can offer to shed light on the experience.

So keep your eyes peeled for the next post

 

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Book Reviews Roving Reader

Black Ivory, Black Settlers and the Phantom Book Rescuer

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

Books are like stray animals  –  they’re looking for a good home…

The shelves of the Centre bear evidence that someone out there agrees with me. The other day I came across two books, inscribed by the hand of a kind-hearted individual who, it seems, scoured public library book sales for any waifs or strays needing tender loving care and rehabilitation.

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Thinking about collections

Archives, history and Black footprints

There is a tendency to see the history of Black people in Britain as a 20th Century history, and certainly the post-war period saw a large number of West Indian (not to mention African, Asian, European) migrants arrive here, what we call the ‘Windrush Generation’.  And this period is the focus of our own archive – a repository for recent histories and living memories.

But a trip to the Lancashire Archives (for a CILIP Black History day school) has really put this into perspective for me.