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Events for everyone as borough marks Black History Month

Waltham Forest is gearing up for this year’s Black History Month celebrations, with free events planned for residents of all ages to enjoy.

The Council has teamed up with educational collective Black History Walks to take part in the nationwide event, which has celebrated black history, arts and culture throughout Britain every October for over 35 years.

A range of distinctive cultural events have been planned – contributing to the creation of an exciting Black History Month 2016 programme which includes the borough’s annual Black History Comedy Night and events in libraries, the William Morris Gallery and Vestry House Museum.

The programme offers residents across Waltham Forest the opportunity to participate in art and cultural activities while learning about black history through spoken word, film screenings and interactive presentations. It begins with an interactive presentation entitled Black British Civil Rights Heroes 1596 to 2006.

Taking place in Chingford Assembly Hall, in Station Road, from 6.30pm to 9pm on Wednesday 19 October, this event will provide individual achievements of black people born or living in the UK who fought against racism over the last 400 years.

On Saturday, 22 October, Leyton Sixth Form College, in Essex Road, will host two events. First up is the film Coming to England: The Floella Benjamin Story, from 2pm to 3.30pm. 

A film for young and old alike, it tells the true story of a little Trinidadian girl who came to England on a ship in the 1960s, was bullied in school but went on to be one of the first black women on British TV. In June 2010, she was introduced to the House of Lords as a Life Peer, with the title Baroness Benjamin, of Beckenham in the County of Kent.

Straight after the film, from 3.30pm until 6.30pm, there will be a seminar aimed at young people to discuss the impact Hollywood movies, music videos, computer games and advertising have on their behaviour. 

Black History Walks has entitled this ‘in-your-face’ session ‘How to brainwash the youth and make them act like fools!’, and it will look at popular and mainstream culture from a black history perspective. Real Housewives, Transformers, Call of Duty, Disney, Lil Wayne, Futurama, 300, GTA, Nikki Minaj, Captain Phillips, Captain America and Pirates of the Caribbean are just some of the topics that will feature in the discussion.

On Monday 24 October, from 6.30pm to 9pm at Leytonstone Library, in Church Lane, visitors will be able to enjoy an event called The Black History of Prince: An audio visual journey through his past. The late pop star’s legacy will be remembered and celebrated through an interactive presentation and review of his musical career, using video clips, interviews and audience participation.

Finally, there will be a series of 45 minute illustrated presentations hosted by spoken word artists at Walthamstow School for Girls, in Church Hill, from 12pm to 5pm on Saturday 29 October.

The all-day conference, entitled Europe's Black History: A Spoken Word Conference, will discuss topics such as the black presence in ancient and modern Europe, African soldiers in European wars, campaign group Black Lives Matter and Brexit, and how social media can be better used to shine a spotlight on black history. Presentations will be interspersed with performances by spoken word artists Nat Nye, Stella and Nego True.

Tony Warner, Director of Black History Walks, said: “I am pleased to be curating this programme. All the events are new to the borough, have a fresh perspective and will be interactive throughout – therefore engaging kids and adults alike.”

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “Once again Waltham Forest is hosting a series of exciting and insightful free events to acknowledge the huge contribution black residents have made to the borough.

“We’re immensely proud of our diverse borough and its fantastic sense of community, and I hope residents from all walks of life, cultures and countries take this opportunity to help us celebrate Black History Month.”

The Council is also giving residents a timely reminder of its campaign to raise money for a statue of former Leyton Orient footballer, Laurie Cunningham – a campaign backed by Leyton Orient FC, football equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, and the late footballer’s family.

Created by renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson, the statue will show Laurie, one of the first black footballers to represent England and the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, in action. The large than-life sculpture will take pride of place in Coronation Gardens next to Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium.

The Council is looking to raise up to £50,000; having committed to paying the rest to ensure that Cunningham’s achievement as one of the first black footballers to play for England is remembered and celebrated.

To view our full list of Black History Month events, visit or join the conversation at

To make a donation to the Laurie’s Legacy campaign, visit

Notes to editors

Tony Warner is the Director of Black History Walks (BHW) - - and has programmed, designed and delivered educational events on African/Caribbean history at the Imperial War Museum, Museum of London, Science Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Bank of England and HM Treasury. He founded BHW in 2007. It is the only organisation to offer black history guided walking tours all over London. BHW provides educational workshops in primary schools, secondary schools and universities. It also programmes films as part of the African Odysseys programme at the BFI Southbank and Phoenix cinemas. For more information, visit 

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