15 plaques in 15 years

To recognise 15 years of Black History Walks and African Odysseys (2007), we have teamed with Nubian Jak to erect 15 blue plaques. Not satisfied with showcasing our history, we are making history by physically embedding African/Caribbean stories into our streets.

Blue Plaques are associated with English Heritage but according to their own research only 4% of their 900 London plaques represent Black and Asian people, the percentage of Black and Asian people  in London is 40% https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/search-news/diversity-blue-plaques/   In 2016 they set up an initiative to find evidence for more diverse plaques. B.A.S.A, the Black and Asian Studies Association has been submitting names and lobbying for more Black people on plaques since the 1990s.

Out of 900 English Heritage plaques in London, only 18 are about Black people or just 2%. Their blue plaque scheme goes back to 1866. English Heritage is a body that was set up in 1983. Their budget is around £180 million.

The Nubian Jak charity has unveiled 97 plaques and two statues honouring African/Caribbean people. They were established in 2006 and do not have even 1% of the English Heritage budget.

Black History Walks is the biggest sponsor of Nubian Jak. This is very revealing considering the size of BHW compared to the many regional, national and global businesses in the capital. Such companies could easily sponsor 15 plaques in one year with their vast resources. There are also some companies that profit from black history but do not invest in or support the Black community.

Here are some images and context for some of the BHW-sponsored Nubian Jak  plaques. For a full list of Nubian Jak plaques and statues visit https://nubianjak.com/home/#

There are at least 100 more plaques that could be installed within months if we had the appropriate support. Any companies, groups or individuals who would like to sponsor a plaque  can contact info@blackhistorywalks.co.uk. If accepted, your name would be on the plaque in a public spaces for decades. Each plaque comes with a huge amount of goodwill and social capital. Certain plaques generate national and international media and are continually referenced throughout the year but especially during Black History Month.

Every plaque is unique and generates interest in universal as well as niche communities. This Emma Clarke plaque was of huge interest to the football community, women in sport and social historians. The 2019 unveiling by David Lammy MP featured on Channel 5. Campsbourne Primary School, which hosted the plaque, now has an annual football tournament named after Emma purely due to the unveiling and the workshops we ran in the school.

Ideally, for each plaque unveiled there would be several supportive educational resources like books, school workshops, animations or documentaries. This could be done for each plaque if we had the money. A single plaque can result in other changes in society. The Dorsett City Hotel featured Canons High School’s display on Phyllis Wheatley’s life in their lobby. The exhibition was supposed to be on display for two weeks but is still there two years later.

Nubian Jak has also pioneered black history statues.  The 2017  five ton African Caribbean war memorial, in Brixton, and the 2021 monument to Windrush nurses, at Whittington Hospital  would not exist but for the charity. The statues are only there because of a decade of fundraising and extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations by the Nubian Jak team.

Each plaque is a historical resource in itself and together they create a trail of African/Caribbean history across the capital and beyond.

This UK national stamp for example only came into existence due to workshops in four schools run by Nubian Jak for their 2010 John Archer plaque. The image  for the stamp was taken from the cover of the book the children created to explain the plaque to their fellow pupils and parents.  Royal Mail saw the book then requested to use the image. This historical fact is little known as mainstream media has not reported it. The children’s names are also written on the back of the plaque.

To show how rare stamps featuring Black people are, consider the Star Trek example. To recognise 50 years of TV shows and movies, the Royal Mail issued 12 Star Trek stamps on November 13 2020.

In October of  2020, the year of George Floyd and worldwide demonstrations for racial equality, to recognise centuries of Black history the Royal Mail painted four post boxes black . The decision generated severe criticism as can be seen  HERE 

The 50-year-old ‘sci-fi classic that spans generations’ got more representation than real Black people who have lived here for hundreds of years. So there is a great deal to do to adequately reflect the history of Black people in Britain’s physical and cultural environment.

Our Sarah Parker Remond  plaque was co-sponsored by Royal Holloway University of London Alumni and Bedford College. It was  unveiled at University College London on March 25 2022. More details HERE 

In January 2022 we unveiled a plaque to the legendary Darcus Howe  at the old offices of Race Today on Railton road, Brixton

In April 2023 we unveiled a plaque to Dr Cecil Belfield Clarke, the brilliant Barbadian doctor who invented the Clarke rule which benefits millions of children to this day. He was also a leading Black British Civil Rights activist as co-founder of the League of Coloured Peoples in 1931.The plaque is on the London South Bank University campus at 112 Newington Causeway.

In addition to plaques, we have worked on erecting commemorative street furniture. Due to a history project with Tideway engineering, who are presently building the ‘Super sewer along the river Thames, we suggested and designed a photo mural in honour of the Black People’s Day of Action in 1981.

The installation has been present since 2019 on the North side of Blackfriars Bridge opposite Unilever house.

This march was organised to protest the deaths of 13 Black children in the New Cross Fire of January 18th 1981.

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Upcoming & Past Films

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Monday 4th March 17.50
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Nikki Giovanni: Going to Mars

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Harry Belafonte Season at BFI Southbank

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Mami Wata, Special screening plus Q&A

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Sembene Season, 33 films @BFI Southbank

Saturday 5th August 2pm
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Passing Through (2pm) and Wattstax (6.10pm)

Saturday July 22nd 2pm and 6.10pm
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Being Blacker

Monday 19 June 2pm
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Le Chevalier @BFI Southbank (African Odysseys)

Thursday 1st June 6.20pm
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Abolition Brazil

Saturday 13th May 2pm
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Black Brazil Science Fiction: Executive Order

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