Black soldiers and Doctors of World War 2

Wednesday 5th April

In advance of the new Blue Plaque (April 2023) in honour of Dr Cecil Belfield-Clarke;1900s Cambridge scholar, inventor, Barbadian, Combermerian, Pan Africanist, Leauge of Coloured Peoples co-founder, we present a talk and Q&A on his legacy, World War 1 and Black soldiers

Stephen Bourne is the author of Black Poppies, an acclaimed study of the Black presence in Britain during the First World War. Bourne illuminates fascinating stories of black servicemen of African heritage. These accounts of the fights for their ‘Mother Country’ are charted from the outbreak of war in 1914 to the conflict’s aftermath in 1919, when black communities up and down Great Britain were faced with anti-black ‘race riots’ despite their dedicated services to their country at home and abroad.

Black Poppies is the essential guide to the military and civilian wartime experiences of black men and women, from the trenches to the music halls.

For details of the plaque unveiling contact Black History Walks

This is an online event at 6.30pm UK/GMT time. The Zoom link will be sent to your email. Check your JUNK MAIL just before the event starts.

To find out more about Dr Cecil Belfied-Clarke read ‘Black History Walks in London Volume 1’ by Tony Warner. This is part of Black publishing house, Jacaranda Books revolutionary Twenty in 2020 initiative to publish 20 books by 20 Black British authors in 2020. An unprecedented feat. ‘Black History Walks in London Volume 1’ is the 20th of that series but was delayed to 2022 due to the Coronavirus.

Other coming events from Black History Walks www.blackhistorywalks.co.uk

  • Black History River Cruise and bus tour
  • How Black People Won World War 2
  • Harlem in Mayfair
  • Black Theatreland Walk
  • Secrets of Soho
  • The Woman King’s Real African Spirituality
  • African Women Resistance Leaders: Political and Spiritual, course
  • The Amazing James Baldwin course

About the author

Stephen Bourne is a writer, film and social historian specialising in black heritage and gay culture. As noted by the BBC among others, Stephen ‘has discovered many stories that have remained untold for years’. Bonnie Greer, the acclaimed playwright and critic, says: ‘Stephen brings great natural scholarship and passion to a largely hidden story. He is highly accessible, accurate and surprising. You always walk away from his work knowing something that you didn’t know, that you didn’t even expect.’

Stephen was born in London. He graduated from the London College of Printing with a bachelor’s degree in film and television in 1988, and in 2006 received a MPhil. at De Montfort University on the subject of the representation of gay men in British television drama, 1936–79. After graduating in 1988, he was a research officer at the British Film Institute on a project that documented the history of black people in British television. The result was a two-part television documentary called Black and White in Colour (BBC 1992), directed by Isaac Julien, that is considered ground-breaking.

In 1991 Stephen was a founder member of the Black and Asian Studies Association. In 1991, Stephen co-authored Aunt Esther’s Story with Esther Bruce (his adopted aunt), which was published by Hammersmith and Fulham’s Ethnic Communities Oral History Project. Nancy Daniels in The Voice (8 October 1991) described the book as ‘Poignantly and simply told, the story of Aunt Esther is a factual account of a black working-class woman born in turn of the century London. The book is a captivating documentation of a life rich in experiences, enhanced by good black-and-white photographs.’ For Aunt Esther’s Story, Stephen and Esther were shortlisted for the 1992 Raymond Williams Prize for Community Publishing.

In 1998 Stephen researched and scripted the BBC Radio 2 series Their Long Voyage Home, presented by Sir Trevor McDonald, for the BBC’s Windrush season. For his acclaimed book Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television (2001), Stephen received the Southwark Civic Award. In 2004 Stephen began contributing biographies about black Britons to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and by 2016 Stephen’s total had reached 40.

In 2008 he researched Keep Smiling Through: Black Londoners on the Home Front 1939–1945, an exhibition for the Cuming Museum in the London Borough of Southwark, and that same year he worked as a historical consultant on the Imperial War Museum’s War to Windrush exhibition. In 2014 Stephen’s book Black Poppies: Britain’s Black Community and the Great War was published by The History Press to coincide with the centenary of Britain’s entry into World War I. Reviewing it in the Independent (11 September 2014), Bernadine Evaristo said: ‘Until historians and cultural map-makers stop ignoring the historical presence of people of colour, books such as this provide a powerful, revelatory counterbalance to the whitewashing of British history.’

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