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Proud To Be: Museums Celebrate Black History Month

Now in his 34e year, Black History Month 2021 kicks off today with a program that aims to inspire pride in black history and culture.

Taking ‘Proud To Be’ as its theme this year, the UK-wide event hopes to make Black History Month 2021 personal to individuals, families and communities, by inviting blacks and blacks alike. Brunettes of all ages to share what they are proud to be, as well as highlighting the achievements of blacks throughout history.

Many museums are getting involved, with hundreds of exhibitions, workshops, lectures and performances taking place across the UK to mark the event.

Launch of the Black Cultural Archives in London an online series, Radical Black Women, which aims to fill the lack of writings on the history of black women. The discussions will highlight the specific contributions of black women to social justice movements in Britain.

National Museums Liverpool a an extensive program of events in its museums and galleries. The Museum of Liverpool unveils a new exhibition, Liverpool 8 Against Apartheid, which explores the close ties between Liverpool’s black community, Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery places a newly-preserved painting of an African slave front and center in its exhibits. The oil painting by Catherine-Marie Legendre, painted around 1705 and attributed to Jean Baptiste Santerre (1658-1717), is the only piece in the 18th century gallery collection to represent a person of color.

An oil on canvas by Catherine-Marie Legendre, painted around 1705, attributed to Jean Baptiste Santerre (1658-1717) © Pete Carr

The World Museum will host a film screening and panel discussion with members of the African diasporic community in Liverpool. Panel members will reflect on a series of workshops they attended at the museum to help it rethink the presentation of its Beninese collection, addressing the historical legacies of injustice to create a more inclusive and engaging presentation. The exhibition is part of the Gallery of World Cultures, which will reopen in 2022.

In Bristol, Mr Shed will host an event where the public can meet the city’s Black and Green Ambassadors, emerging leaders who work with Bristol’s diverse communities on issues of environmental sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion. The Bristol Museums are also hosting a series of online lectures that will cover topics such as the early black Bristolians and the black experiences of WWI.

St Fagans National History Museum in Wales launches new exhibition, Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History, featuring 44 stories, images and stories of people from the Windrush generation. Part of a lottery-funded project to ensure the legacy of the Windrush generation is kept for posterity, the stories show how the Windrush elders and their descendants left their mark in all areas of Welsh life. The exhibit will visit other sites in Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales at the end of the month.

In Belfast, the Artisan Gallery presents Look back, think about black, an exhibition of new paintings by Irish-Caribbean artist Ciarán Harper on historical and influential figures across the Black Atlantic.

Across Scotland, the Coalition for Equality and Racial Rights organized a varied program conferences and workshops with various partners, including museums. On Tuesdays in October, curators at the Hunterian Museum will select items from collections related to black history and use short lectures to provide insight into their provenance and travels. On October 21, director Hunterian Steph Scholten will host an in-person discussion on repatriation and restitution of objects in museum collections.

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