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Black History Month in Camden: Be inspired by the Windrush Generation

PUBLISHED: 17:38 16 October 2019

Camden Council Black History Month celebrations at the Crowndale Centre 20th October 2018

Camden Council Black History Month celebrations at the Crowndale Centre 20th October 2018

Kareen Cox of Absolutely Kareen

Camden's commemoration of Black History Month continues tomorrow (Fri) with a showpiece event celebrating the Windrush Generation.

Angie Le Mar. Picture: Angie Le Mar / Elin Robinson PhotographyAngie Le Mar. Picture: Angie Le Mar / Elin Robinson Photography

Then, on October 31, a couple from Hampstead will celebrate the life of a pioneering black composer - Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - who was born in Holborn.

The Windrush event, organised by Camden Black Workers Group with the support of the union Unison and Camden Council, will see a number of speakers, musicians and cultural figures take to the stage at the Crowndale Centre in Mornington Crescent.

The event is designed to be a celebration of the Windrush generation, and one of the performers, comedian Angie Le Mar, told the Ham&High she felt it important to remember the hopes and achievements of her parent's generation.

South Londoner Angie, whose parents migrated to the UK from Jamaica shortly after the Windrush docked.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Picture: Public DomainSamuel Coleridge-Taylor. Picture: Public Domain

Angie said: "Black History Month is always a celebration, but this year and the last few - it's been quite poignant because of the Windrush scandal. I want to celebrate those who came over. Growing up, our parents from that generation, they knew what they didn't want for us.

"They wanted us to be educated, to have hopes and aspirations. It's about [saying] thank you."

Angie, who hosted a BBC London radio show in the late-1990s and was also the first black women to sell out a comedy show in the West End, added: "At the time, you don't think of yourself as a trailblazer, it's only looking back now that you think that. It was a difficult time. I just think it's really important for people to come along, we are really celebrating Black History Month. Bring your mums and your aunts - the people that came before us should be celebrated.

Dr Angela Herbert MBE, one of the Co-chairs of the Violent Crime Prevention Board and who has spent decades working to help those caught up in the criminal justice system - first by volunteering at Feltham prison - is one of the speakers at the event.

Evening Standard investigations editor, David Cohen and Dr Angela Herbert, co-chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board and chair of the Met's Civil Rights and Social Action group. Pic: JON KINGEvening Standard investigations editor, David Cohen and Dr Angela Herbert, co-chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board and chair of the Met's Civil Rights and Social Action group. Pic: JON KING

She told this newspaper why she was delighted to be asked, and what she will focus on.

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Dr Herbert said: "For Black History Month, it's often about things that happened in the past, but for me it's a marker in time that should be celebrated. It's about organising people."

Dr Herbert said her work with youth violence was connected to celebrating Black History Month. She said it was about being inspired by "the huge efforts" of the Windrush generation.

Others speaking include Shaun Wallace, from ITV's The Chase, while the night will be MCed by storyteller Alim Kamara. Alim told this newspaper: "I've been compèring the show for the last four years. It's incredible to see how it's grown - last year was just so much fun.

"My aim is just to give people the expereince and knowledge about the contributions that people in our community have made, both present and past."

Paula Perry, a writer and the woman behind the You4Us project which aims to break "generational cycles" of poverty is giving a presentation based on her book Black British History: Black Influences on British Culture which explains the underreported impack black culture has had on the UK music scene.

Paula said: "The presentation will be about 70 years of music and how black people have had a huge historical impact on British culture - including the the black impact on, for example, the Mods.

"It's to give a sense of the great things that we don't learn about often enough. We learn about slavery or things like the American civil rights movement. Everyone knows who Rosa Parks was, but we don't know there was a bus boycott in 1963 in this country, in Bristol!"

One of the key men in organising Camden's Black History Month offering is Adejare Oyewole, who's the equalities officer for Camden Unison and has worked in the town hall's housing department for twenty years. Adejare told this newspaper that events like Fridays and those at Camden's libraries throughout Black History Month, were important because "they remind people that history matters today". He added: "It's to help address the ongoing issue of crime. The people theat came over, they worked hard to ensure that their families had good lives, they're the people we want to look up to.

"The mixture of entertainment and education is really important. We couldn't just talk, talk, talk, so it's to keep people inspired."

At the end of the month the Hampstead-based Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation are hosting an event at the Camden Archives above Holborn Library which will celebrate the musician's life. Coleridge-Taylor was a prolific black composer who worked in the UK and abroad - even getting involved with the New York Philamonic Orchestra - before dying of pneumonia aged just 37. He was, according to Hilary Burrage who runs the foundation, "truly remarkable". The event will see Coleridge-Taylor's music played and his life story retold.

Windrush: Inspired by the First Generation is free and runs from 6.30pm until 10.30pm on October 18 at the Crowndale Centre. To learn about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, head to Hollborn Library from 7.15pm on October 31. For more BHM events, see: lovecamden.org/blackhistorymonth

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