Held in Manchester in 1945, the 5th Pan-African Congresswas 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, 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
As soon as I opened the ‘Adventure Play’ folder of the Elouise Edwards photograph collection I knew I wanted to write about these pictures. Although the folder also included photos of children horse riding, ice skating, river-wading and bouncy castle-jumping, the photos of the adventure playgrounds are what had me hooked. I have so many questions! Who built them? Where were they? Were they safe? Did that even matter?
The photos show enormous wooden and metal structures, usually near a large housing block or in large empty space, with children leaping, hanging and balancing on the various platforms, slides, planks and ropes – smiling for the camera as they go. It struck me just how different playtime was for children in the 70s than it is today – not a screen in sight (just dizzying heights and a couple of splinters instead).
For me, photographs are such a valuable aspect of any archive. This is not only because of the stories they tell and the memories they preserve, but also because they transcend any language or literacy barriers and can be appreciated by everyone who sees them. We are lucky enough to have had thousands of photographs donated to us over the years, and they are by far my favourite collections to look through.
The Elouise Edwards Photograph Collection is our largest collection of photographs, featuring everything from sporting events and political demonstrations to photos from the Abasindi Black Women’s Collective and Roots Festivals. Most of the photographs are shot beautifully in black and white, and show members of various communities around Manchester in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in Moss Side and Hulme. Elouise Edwards is a longstanding resident of Moss Side herself, after moving here in 1961 from Guyana where she was born. Although Elouise was at first unhappy in England, she soon found her passion in the promoting, defending and empowering of her community. If these photographs are anything to go by, she helped make a lot of people happy!
Libby Turner, a recent English and American Studies graduate from the University of Manchester, reflects on our recent Hip Hop, Spoken Word and the Library event. (We’ll be posting more about the Hip Hop Collection project next week…)
‘Hip Hop, Spoken Word and the Library – Transcending Borders? Reflections on a Decade of Grime and Young Identity’, brought together Hip Hop and Grime scholars, poets, radio professionals and talented young people for an evening of discussion and performance.
The event marks the launch of a brand new resource at the Central library Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre – one that focuses on the themes of hip hop, grime, spoken word, education and social justice. Continue reading →
Nigel de Noronha has been our Researcher in Residence this year, working on the Tandana Collection; a large archive of material about the Asian Youth Movements (AYMs). Nigel was a member of the AYM in Manchester in the 1980s, so this project has been of personal as well as academic and professional interest for him. In this post he reflects on the process of re-engaging with his own personal history through working in the archive.
Asian Youth movements (AYMs) emerged spontaneously in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. The AYM was active in anti-deportation campaigns in Manchester, connected to other AYMs and supported their campaigns against racist discrimination and racial violence. I joined AYM Manchester in 1982. We adopted a black political identity. Many young Asians witnessed racist and fascist violence, state discrimination from the police, schools, housing and immigration authorities, and discrimination in the labour market.
So two weeks on from the general election and I know we’re all pretty sick of politics, not to mention politicians, but I couldn’t let this week pass without a quick nod to Mohammed Afzal Khan MEP who was invested as Manchester’s first Asian (and youngest) Lord Mayor 10 years ago.
How did two Manchester businessmen from a respectable Jewish family come to be accused of supporting the enemy during the First World War?
January 1915. The Great War was less than six months old, but already more than a million British men had volunteered to serve; many thousands had been killed. The Manchester Regiment (including the newly-formed Manchester Pals) had been deployed and seen action, including at the first Battle of Ypres.
Supporting the effort
In central Manchester, tobacconists Marcus and Henry Themans decided to show their support for the troops. Continue reading →
Last time we discovered Barrington Young had become the first Black railway inspector in Manchester. We also found that he’d begun a United Nations in his own home by marrying an Austrian in the 1950s. This time, we’ll see Barrington fully engaged in transmitting knowledge of his own, as well as wider Black history, to youngsters of all ethnicities.
Barrington retired in 1994. Counting his years on the railways as the best time of his life, he joined the Railway Club to continue that good experience into the future. But by 1998 we find him in a different role. It was the 50th anniversary of the arrival from the Caribbean of the good ship Empire Windrush in 1948 and Barrington was enrolling on an exciting innovative new course – Mapping Our Lives: The Windrush Project.
Ever found that once you set off in search of someone, signs of them are just about everywhere? That’s how it was for me as I began rummaging around the Centre trying to find Barrington Young. I must have been the only person never to have come across him in my travels…
And that’s the key to Barrington. Travelling. Is he a prime minister, pianist, brain surgeon, astronaut or footballer? No. He’s far more important than that. As well as being one of the most kind and humorous individuals around, Barrington Young was the first Black railway inspector in Manchester. What Barrington doesn’t know about trains and the railways of Britain just isn’t worth knowing.
Thousands of students are flooding back into Manchester. Here at the Resource Centre we’ve been busy preparing for this enthusiastic new cohort of scholars. Thankfully the Roving Reader has had the time to take a more reflective view of proceedings.
Anyone who hasn’t noticed that Manchester recently exploded with students must have just come from Mars. So for any Martians out there – the academic year’s beginning, lectures are starting, and the buses are full to bursting. Take my advice. Add another half hour to your journey so you get to your destination on time…
But hang on a minute! Stand back and take a closer look. Have you ever thought how many in the fresh-faced crowd are from overseas?
Our archive volunteer Helen has uncovered a fascinating story about women confronting racism in 1970s Manchester…
Decades before Facebook and Twitter allowed people who had never met to communicate anonymously, a group of women from Manchester decided to use a real life ‘wall’ to gather views from local people on the subject of racism. The women, from Longsight and Levenshulme, were united by their opposition to the National Front, a right-wing, racist organisation that was responsible for preaching racial hatred and carrying out violent attacks on members of Britain’s ethnic minority communities. On discussing how to react to a planned National Front march in the city, the women came up with the idea of a ‘wall newspaper’ where they could get local people to air their views on the National Front.
In preparing for our Paul Robeson hands-on session next Wednesday (details on our website and Facebook) I keep coming across the name Wilf Charles. He was one of a small group who established the New International Society in Moss Side in 1946, an organisation that promoted anti-racism locally but also supported international causes, including many championed by Robeson. As a result of this relationship Robeson came to sing at the Society in 1949, but more about that another time…
Wilf Charles is mentioned, in passing, in literature about Len Johnson (Manchester’s black boxing hero), about the International Brigade and the Spanish Civil War, the Communist Party and the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester.
It’s all hands on deck here this week as we get ready for the reopening of Central Library, incorporating us and our Archives+ partners. No time to write a proper post this week, so I thought I’d share this from the Archives+ blog – a few sneaky peak pictures from inside!
It’s our last week here in the University of Manchester’s Sackville St Building. The shelves are emptying, boxes are filling and we’re all overcome with bittersweet emotions; the excitement about our future in Manchester Central Library mixed with the melancholy of leaving somewhere we’ve called home for the past few years. I get terribly sentimental about buildings I’ve inhabited – it’s as if I leave a little bit of myself behind every time I move on somewhere new.
But if these walls could talk they’d have more interesting things to talk about than my short stay here.
Here’s a lovely festive photo from our Ann Adeyemi archive collection. It was taken in Lewis’s in Manchester in the late 1950s. It feels like Lewis’s has been gone a long time, but it only closed in 2001, before Primark opened in the building. Wikipedia tells me that Lewis’s in Liverpool was the first department store to open a Christmas grotto, back in 1879, and many Manchester and Liverpool residents remember their annual December trip to see Father Christmas there.
There’s something not thoroughly convincing about the Father Christmas in this photo – he’s a bit slim and looks like he might have borrowed that outfit from someone a size or two bigger than him. Ann has a bit of a knowing look, I think perhaps she wasn’t convinced either.
Ann Adeyemi is living proof that Black people lived in Manchester well before the 1950s. Her grandmother was White Irish and came to Manchester at the start of the 20th Century, her grandfather was Black Liberian. Ann’s mixed race mother Mary was born in Salford in 1920 and grew up in Manchester. She married James, a Black merchant seaman from West Africa. Ann was born in Cheetham Hill in 1951 and grew up in Middleton. Ann herself has had a fascinating life, involved in education, anti-racism work and theatre. Here at the Centre we have an extensive collection of photos and memorabilia that Ann has donated, as well as oral history interviews that document her wonderful life.
Seasons greetings from us all at AIU Race Relations Resource Centre – see you in 2014!
We can smile when you are free. Happy Birthday Mr Mandela – Aklisur
It won’t surprise you to hear we have a lot of material about Nelson Mandela in the library. The influence of this one man has been so far reaching it’s difficult to comprehend, and in these weeks after his death the whole world is reflecting on his impact. Of course, his influence is felt no less strongly at the local level – here in Manchester and in our schools.
With the Centre closing to the public on 6th December and the movers booked for mid-February, our move to Central Library (as part of the Archives+ partnership) is starting to feel very real. We keep trying to imagine what it will be like having so many more visitors into the library every day… it’s going to be amazing, but we need to think about how we balance the demands of greater access with preservation of the collection.
As an addendum to my last post, did you knowthat Basil Davidson once walked the hallowed corridors of Manchester University?
He was appointed a senior Simon Research Fellow for the academic year 1975/76, doing library research for another book on the Centre’s shelves – his Africa in Modern History: The Search for a New Society, published in1978. How intriguing that he may have spent many hours on campus, in the Main Library and perhaps the Dover Street Building (where the Department of Sociology was then based).
Nice to know Manchester played its part in helping Basil restore to Africans their history and culture, don’t you think?
If anyone bumped into him and has any memories to share, do let us know…