Celebrating Black History in Wrexham
Date: 16 October 2016
Venue: Saith Seren, Wrexham
This event was organised for Race Council Cymru by CLPW CIC, a group dedicated to celebrating the 2,000-strong Black, Portuguese-speaking community of Wrexham (pictured right).
The day focussed on learning about Black history, celebrating the Black presence in Wales, and sharing culture. The event began with a series of presentations by Race Council Cymru representative Iolande Banu Vegas, Andreia John of CLPW CIC, Liz Millman of Learning Links international, Dr Marian Gwyn of Race Council Cymru and international guest Yasus Afari. The final part of the day was a celebration of Black culture, where everyone could join in the dancing, listen to a wide variety of global music and eat food from different countries.
Ioldande Banu Vegas and Andreia John (pictured right) opened the event by welcoming everyone. Iolande provided an overview of the origins of the Portuguese-speaking community in Wrexham. She explained that before CLPW was formed, its members had little in common besides their shared language of Portuguese; they had all originated from countries around the world that had previously been a part of the former Portuguese empire. They had come together to form CLPW, which provided not only opportunities to celebrate their shared heritage but also provided help and advice. Iolande reminded everyone of the challenges CLPW's members faced from race crime following the EU referendum in June 2016. Andreia went on to outline the order of the day and introduced the speakers.
Liz Millman of Learning Links International (pictured right) provided an overview of the Black Wales - Our Wales project. She explained how it supported the work of Black History Month. She spoke of the importance of Black history to the story of Wales and of how important it was to celebrate diversity. She spoke of the strength of an organisation such as CLPW, which supported Portuguese-speaking families from eight different countries around the world, and thanked the organisation for being such a postive example to others around the country.
Dr Marian Gwyn of Race Council Cymru (pictured right) spoke of the long history Wales had in engaging with communities from around the world. She said that there was archaeological evidence of international trading at Welsh sites such as the copper mines of the Great Orme, Llandudno, going back to the Bronze Age. Marian stated that, as a historian, she continuously challenged the traditional presentation of British history, which was typically presented from a White, Euro-centric perspective. She emphasised that by bringing in multiple perspectives, the history of Wales becomes a more honest and more relevant story to the country's increasingly diverse population.
Jamaican 'edutainer' Yasus Afari (pictured right) spoke of Britain's involvement in the African slave trade. He expressed his regret that Britain had never apologised for its role in Atlantic slavery, and suggested that British and French involvement in the Middle East had led to the emergence of groups such as Isis. He believed that Britain could not just brush its history under the carpet. He ended by delivering his poem We are the Friends of the Earth, reminding people that we are all of one earth and that we should all commit to saving it.
The day ended with energetic dancing to music from a variety of Black cultures and with delicious food. Pictured below: Sasha begins the dancing.
Feedback from the day included:
- An excellent way to celebrate the Black presence in north Wales and to learn about Black history at the same time.
- It was great mixing with people from so many different countries, yet all had a link to Wales.
- The day was so relaxed that I could join in without feeling nervous.
- The music was fantastic.
- I enjoyed the venue - my kids came with me and they had a great time joining in the activities and meeting everyone else.