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Black History in Wales

The shared history of Wales and the Black Atlantic is little known. This project aims to address this at its events around Wales during 2016. It will also highlight just how much more work needs to be done before this history becomes fully integrated into the stories Wales tells about itself. 

The contribution made to Wales by Black people for generations has for too long been ignored, yet they have been – and are – represented in all aspects of Welsh life, in culture, the arts, sports, and politics. While museums exist in Liverpool, Hull and London that explore Black history in, and Black contributions to, England, nowhere in Wales tells this story.

Racism is an issue that blights the lives of people across Wales. Race Council Cymru has identified the extent of this in its report published in 2015. The results of the referendum on leaving the EU has dramatically increased the number of race crimes. Our project acts on these findings of this by challenging racism by promoting a wider understanding of the significant contribution of Black people to Wales that comes through our shared history and by challenging racial stereotypes.

Work carried out for the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic trade commemoration in 2007 brought some of the historical links between Wales and Black history to the surface. However, all events for that commemoration have since closed down.

This includes National Museum Wales’s major exhibition Everyone in Chains and the National Trust's exhibition Sugar and Slavery - The Penrhyn Connection at Penrhyn Castle. These were described by the Heritage Lottery fund as ‘important and effective ways for people in Wales to recognize and learn about an often forgotten part of their heritage’. This history is now being ‘forgotten’ again as little of this information is being incorporated into new interpretation at Wales's heritage sites. 

This 'forgetting' includes recent research by Welsh academics that explores Wales’s connections to Africa and the Americas that has never been publicly shared. Nowhere in Wales, for example, explores the story of Welsh cloth woven in pre-industrial mid-Wales that clothed enslaved Africans in the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries. Yet the wealth that this brought is evident but unexplored in towns such as Dolgellau and Bala. Not even Wales's National Wool Museum tells this story. 

New research on Welsh explorerers and missionaries in Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries also waits to be shared.

 

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