A PROGRAMME of activities and events is taking place in Leicester throughout October as part of Black History Month.
Venues including Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and the Central Library are hosting a range of activities, talks and other events focusing on Black culture, art and history aimed at visitors of all ages.
Serendipity Institute for Black Arts and Heritage and its partners across Leicester are organising the events, which this year are focusing on Representation, Relocation and Revelation, exploring the connections and legacy between the UK and the Caribbean, displacement, and creativity. There is also a strong focus on the theme of resistance.
2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, which brought more than a thousand West Indian immigrants to the UK, as well as the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” landmark Civil Rights speech in Washington DC, and the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Events at Leicester Central Library, in Bishop Street, include “Finding Home - A Windrush Story” on Wednesday, October 4, from 6.30pm.
On Friday, October 6, the library will also host a talk by authors Rachel Faturoti and DD Armstrong entitled Retelling and Reimagining, looking at crafting new worlds for young audiences, and how fairy tales, folklore and famed stories can be reimagined for today’s readers. It takes place from 6.30pm.
A new book telling the story of Queen Charlotte Sophia, said to be Britain’s first Black queen, will be launched at an event featuring its author Tina Andrews, at the Central Library on October 28, from 5pm, as part of an in-conversation event with actress, director and writer, Anni Domingo.
Some of this year’s activities tie in with a major new exhibition entitled "Casta - The Origins of Caste" which is taking place at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery until December 4, 2023.
The exhibition showcases a series of rare, historically important Casta paintings, which are part of an original set of 14 artworks dating from the 1700s, and are being displayed alongside additional works from Mexico and New York. They have been cleaned and conserved through Leicester City Council’s museum service with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Casta exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is presented by Opal 22 Arts and Edutainment in partnership with Leicester Museums and Galleries.
Black History Month events linked to the exhibition include a day-long series of events on Thursday, October 5, including pop-up poetry street performances across the city centre between 2pm and 4pm as part of National Poetry Day.
It will be followed by a takeover of Leicester Central Library from 6pm to 8pm for an evening of live poetry from the Midlands’ best writers and poets, including performances from The Orator, 9ina and Lekky.
On Friday, October 6, “Unapologetically Black – Late Night at The Museum” will include an evening of live jazz music from Sultan Stephenson and Son of Originals, with food and drinks, at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. There will also be guided tours into the Casta paintings exhibition as well as the opportunity to view all the gallery spaces.
It runs from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and tickets are available from the museum.
Visitors will also be able to join museum staff to explore the museum’s range of objects which are representative of African-Caribbean and African experiences and heritage, in an event taking place on Wednesday, October 18, between 11am and 4pm.
Throughout Black History Month, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery’s “Object of the Month”, will focus on the first public display of a newly-acquired glass artwork entitled Take Me Home.
Created by artist Anthony Amoako-Attah and drawing on Ghanaian history and African textiles to explore the effects of migration, dislocation, and identity, it intimately connects with the stories of both Black communities and the textile trade within the city.
Take Me Home will be on show from October 1 to 31.
Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “Black History Month is a fantastic opportunity each year to celebrate the city’s Black communities and learn more about Black history, music, culture and art.
“The programme of activities and events at both the museum and library over the coming weeks will help bring to life Black history for visitors for all ages.”
A further event is due to take place at Leicester Central Library on Thursday, November 9, from 6-8pm, when author Audrey Osler will look back at three centuries of her mixed-heritage family.
More details are available at Serendipity’s website here.
Information on Leicester museum events is available here.