From supporting Black-owned businesses to insightful exhibitions, Liverpool is marking Black History Month in many ways.
October is Black History Month and, while Black history should be championed for more than just one month, this time of year really gives us the chance to acknowledge, celebrate and learn about the impact Black people and culture have had on Liverpool and England as a whole.
Across the month, there is a whole host of activities taking place at various locations in the city, so there’s something for everyone to get involved, get inspired and get thinking.
1. Close up on slavery, abolition and activism, International Slavery Museum
We cannot understand the modern world without learning about the impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and it’s many legacies. This was a major period of trauma, injustice and economic development in global history. Liverpool slave ships carried an estimated 1.5 million enslaved people into a life of brutal slavery and brave resistance, but Liverpool has also been home to abolitionists and activists who have fought for freedom. At this event on October 17, the Learning and Participation Team will be presenting the International Slavery Museum’s handling collection, including artefacts that are carriers of history and inspiring examples of resilience and activism. Find out more here.
2. Yore Lens on L8, Museum of Liverpool
On October 16, head to Museum of Liverpool to enjoy Yore Lens on L8, a special screening of a series of short films and documentaries by Akoma Arts that celebrate decades of creativity, art, and history in the Liverpool 8 community. The films are a retrospective reinterpretation of archive footage, reconnecting the past and present and exploring Black Life in L8 through film. They show the hub of grassroots creativity that exists in L8, bringing visibility and a voice to a marginalised community. Films are part of the mechanism to challenge and bring change, raising awareness of cultural creative activities, celebrating local heritage and bringing joy. For more information head here.
3. Uprisings 1981: A Commemoration, Museum of Liverpool
Also taking place at the Museum of Liverpool, during the afternoon on October 24 a discussion and performance will take place to reflect on the events of 1981, 40 years on. On 10th April 1981, Brixton exploded in anger, an anger that swept across UK inner cities in what Malcom X would have described as ‘a long hot summer’ of uprisings, which culminated in Liverpool. The causes have been well documented; racist and brutal policing compounded by the failure of the police to protect black people from racist violence, and the effects of Thatcherite policies which brought high unemployment and increased poverty to communities already in decline. There will be national activists, artists and commenters present at this event to remember the uprisings and consider their legacies and lessons for today. In addition, there is a 40th Anniversary exhibition at Liverpool Central Library from October 22, which features a selection of documents from the L8 Law Centre archive.
4. Blackfest Hip Hop Dance For All, Unity Theatre
‘BlackFest’s ‘Borderline Funk’ group are proud to present a verbatim piece of Theatre for Social Change based on the theme of ‘Protest’. BlackFest are passionate about people having a voice, the right to use that voice, be heard and listened to in a peaceful way. Everyone has the right to express themselves and be respected. We’ve all experienced times in our life when it has been hard to have our voices heard. The arts are a powerful medium for expression and here you will be presented with a dynamic, political performance combining multiple art forms to express the passion of this ethos. Grab your tickets to this event at Unity Theatre here.
5. Liverpool 8 Against Apartheid , Museum of Liverpool
This display at the Museum of Liverpool explores some of the strong connections between Liverpool’s Black community, Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. Nelson Mandela’s importance to Liverpool is huge. In Toxteth, Liverpool 8, Mandela remains a highly significant role model to the community. In the 1980s, Liverpool 8 was tireless in its support of the anti-apartheid struggle through demos, product boycotts, park runs and the Free Nelson Mandela Campaign. Find out more information here.
6. Jem Wharton, Museum of Liverpool
The portrait of 19th century boxer James ‘Jem’ Wharton by Liverpool artist William Daniels is on display in the Museum of Liverpool’s The People’s Republic gallery as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s COMING HOME project. Jem Wharton was one of the most successful boxers in Britain in the first half of the 19th century and he represents a long history of Liverpool-based Black people’s achievements in boxing. During Jem’s time in the early 19th century, bare knuckle prize fights and fairground booths were established in Liverpool 8, Toxteth. This small part of South Liverpool has continued to provide a procession of champions, medal holders and serious contenders. Collectively achieving an astonishing haul of 30 World titles and 17 British, Commonwealth and European championships. Find out more about Jem Wharton here.
7. The Black Market, 24 Kitchen Street
On October 22, Liverpool’s first Black business and creative focussed market is taking place and will encompass work from locally produced photography, art, films, jewellery, trainers, clothes, food, music and more, as well as interactive workshop opportunities throughout the day. Exhibitors include the likes of Anthony Wild, Jade Edwards, Desserts by Dre as well as community representatives with information and resources from the Merseyside Caribbean centre, The Anthony Walker Foundation and more. This will also be the first time that 24 Kitchen Street will be opening their brand new upstairs event space to the public, and they want the Black artistic community to be an integral part of that debut, plus be a central part of their on-going commitment to championing Black talent year round. 24 Kitchen Street are also running a number of events for Black History Month including the 2-Step Collective Running Club, an all levels running club showcasing Liverpool’s Black heritage with the route curated by historian Laurence Westgaph.
8. Statues Redressed, across Liverpool
Sky Arts is to release a feature-length documentary, Statues Redressed, this October which will see a group of inspiring artists reimagine a number of statues across the city of Liverpool. During the summer of 2021, artists including Larry Achiampong, Taya Hughes and Harold Offeh, were each tasked with creatively questioning the role of statues in modern times. For instance, on Princes Avenue in Toxteth, artist Harold Offeh has made a sound piece telling the story of an event that took place nearly forty years ago – the toppling of the statue of William Huskisson by a group of activists offended by Huskisson’s support for slavery. Harold has recorded the testimony of one of the people there on the night it happened, Stephen Nze. Other redressed statues include the giant bronze statue of William Gladstone (whose family fortune came from plantations and slavery) with a pan-African flag wrapped tightly around his body by Larry Achiampong.