Tag: Britain

Cleo Lake, New Lord Mayor of Bristol in England, Removes Portrait of Brutal Slave Trader from Office

Lord Mayor Cleo Lake (Photo: screenshot BristolLive)

by Jay Scott Smith via thegrio.com

In the British town of Bristol, a black woman has become the new Lord Mayor (or, simply, mayor) has taken office. And one of the first things that Cleo Lake did was remove the 300-year-old portrait of a slave trader from the wall in her office’s parlor.

Lake ordered the removal of the portrait of Edward Colston, saying she “simply could not stand” the sight of the man peering her as she worked, according to the Daily Mail.

‘I’m coming to the end of my first month in office, and this is my parlor, which is a lovely space,” Lake said. She was elected by her fellow city councilors last month. “I spend a lot of time here — I am here nearly every day. I won’t be comfortable sharing it with the portrait of Colston.”

“As part of my role in campaigning with the Countering Colston team, I also think it’s fitting that I don’t share this office with the portrait,” Lake told the Bristol Post.

“Luckily, there’s been a lot of support and the council has agreed to take it down and today is the day it goes into storage,” she added. Lake instead of destroying the portrait, Lake has asked that it be installed in a museum addressing Bristol’s role in the slave trade and the abolition of slavery.

Colston has long-been a divisive figure in Bristol, which is 105 miles west of London, over his original role in the Royal African Company, which turned the sale and transport of enslaved Africans to work on plantations in the Americas and the Caribbean into an industrial scale practice during the mid-17th century.

Colston is estimated to have been responsible for the deaths of roughly 20,000 people aboard his slave ships. He acquired his wealth on the backs of capturing and brutalizing Africans by transporting enslaved Blacks. He would later go on to establish slave trade routes as far as Asia.

Much like a number of the Confederate generals and officials in the United States, numerous schools, businesses and other establishments that are named after the infamous slave trader are now trying to distance themselves from him in England.

Similar to how schools named after Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee have been renamed in favor of former President Barack Obama, Colston Hall, a concert venue, was closed but is expected to reopen with a new name while parents of students at Colston Primary School have voted in favor of it being renamed.

“Many of the issues today such as Afrophobia, racism and inequality stem from this episode of history where people of African descent were dehumanized to justify enslaving them,” Lake said. “We’re partway through the U.N. Decade for People of African Descent, so change must also be ushered in and this is in line with that.”

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/06/24/black-british-mayor-takes-over-immediately-removes-portrait-of-brutal-slave-trader-from-office/

Author Chimamanda Adichie, the New Face of Boots No. 7 Make-Up, Speaks on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (Photo: Boots)

article by  via nymag.com

We probably don’t deserve Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The author and feminist who inspired Beyoncé is now fighting America’s political battles, and man is she good at it.

But that’s not the only hat Adichie’s wearing as of late. She’s also the new face of Boots No. 7 makeup — a British drugstore retailer known for its cult serum that’s a best seller across the pond. (You can purchase the brand in the U.S. at Walgreens.)

The partnership between Boots and Adichie is a match that feels in sync. For years Adichie has been outspoken in asserting that feminism and makeup can co-exist, and the specific campaign she was tapped to lead for Boots hedges on the concept that cosmetics are more than tools to look pretty: They’re vessels to help a woman begin her day. The Cut talked to the author about her foray into the beauty business, the complex relationship she maintains with her hair, and the feminist lesson to be learned from the presidential election.

What frustrates you about the beauty industry? What gives you hope?

The beauty industry is more inclusive than it was ten years ago. There’s a slightly wider range of foundation shades, for example. What I find frustrating is that it should be even more inclusive. The definition of what is beautiful shouldn’t be so narrow. We should have different kinds of women — different body sizes, different shades of skin, and in a way that is consistent, not only occasional.

A note that struck a chord with me in your book Americanah is when Ifemelu, the novel’s protagonist, says, “Hair is the perfect metaphor for race in America.” What did you mean when you wrote that?

Hair is something we see, but we don’t understand what’s behind it, kind of like race. It’s the same way that something seems obvious, but it is really complicated and complex. For example, to see a middle-aged white woman who has highlights is not something everyone in the world necessarily understands, especially if it’s because she struggles to cover her grays. Or if you’re a black women, sometimes the way that your hair grows from your head isn’t considered “professional” by people who don’t know black hair. I don’t think it’s that people are malicious, I think it’s just some people don’t know what the hair that grows from the head of black women actually looks like.

To read full interview, go to: Chimamanda Adichie on Black Hair and Redefining Beauty

The Black Victorians: Astonishing Portraits Unseen for 120 Years on Exhibit in London Through November

Member of the African choir
Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. (Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.

“The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renée Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating their archive as part of my PhD project.”

The London Stereoscopic Company specialised in carte de visites – small photographs printed on cards that were often traded by collectors or used by performers for publicity purposes – and, as their name suggests, they were all in stereo which, when seen through a special viewer, gave the illusion of a three-dimensional photograph.

The enlarged portraits of the African Choir, which line one wall of the exhibition, were made by Mike Spry, a specialist in printing from glass plates who was coaxed out of retirement to undertake the meticulous process in his garden shed. They are arresting both for the style and assurance of the sitters – some of the women look like they could be modelling for Vogue – and for the way they challenge the received narrative of the history of black people in Britain.

“Black Chronicles II is part of a wider ongoing project called The Missing Chapter,” says Mussai, “which uses the history of photography to illuminate the missing chapters in British history and culture, especially black history and culture. There is a widespread misconception that black experience in Britain begins with the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the first Jamaican immigrants in 1948, but, as this exhibition shows, there is an incredible archive of images of black people in Britain that goes right back to the invention of photography in the 1830s.”

Near the African choir shots, there is an equally striking portrait of Major Musa Bhai, a Ceylon-born Muslim who was converted to Christianity in colonial India. He accompanied the family of William Booth, founder of theSalvation Army, to England in 1888 as a high-profile advocate for the organisation. As Mussai notes, there “are several intertwining narratives – colonial, cultural and personal – embedded in these images, but what is often startling is how confident and self-contained many of the sitters are as they occupy the frame.”

Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862.
Sara Forbes Bonetta. Brighton, 1862. (Photograph: Courtesy of Paul Frecker collection/The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography)

Black Chronicles II is punctuated by several such surprising shots, some of well-known people but many of ordinary individuals caught up in the indiscriminate sweep of colonial and postcolonial history. Among the former is Sara Forbes Bonetta, perhaps the most celebrated black British Victorian, who was photographed by two pre-eminent portrait photographers, Camilla Silvy and Julia Margaret Cameron.

Captured aged five by slave raiders in west Africa, Forbes Bonetta was rescued by Captain Frederick E Forbes, then presented as a “gift” to Queen Victoria. Forbes, who rechristened the child after his ship, the Bonetta, later wrote of the proud moment when he realised that Forbes Bonetta “would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites.”

More haunting is the portrait of Dejazmatch Alamayou Tewodros, an Ethiopian prince who was orphaned at the age of seven, when his father died rather than surrender to the British troops that had surrounded his castle in what was then Abyssinia. Alamayou was brought to England by Sir Robert Napier and adopted by the intriguingly named explorer Captain Tristram Speedy. Alamayou died in England of pleurisy in 1879.

Continue reading “The Black Victorians: Astonishing Portraits Unseen for 120 Years on Exhibit in London Through November”

18 Year-Old Gabrielle Turnquest Becomes Youngest Ever to Pass Britain’s Bar Exams

Teenager becomes youngest person to be called to the Bar
Gabrielle Turnquest

According to The Telegraph, American student Gabrielle Turnquest was called to the Bar of England and Wales after passing her exams at just 18, qualifying her as a barrister in those countries.  Turnquest is a native of Windermere, Florida who made news when she graduated from Liberty University of Virginia at 16, which made her that college’s youngest-ever graduate with a degree in psychology.   She most recently took courses at Britain’s University of Law along with her sister Kandi, who also passed her bar exams (she is 22).  The average lawyer in Britain undertakes the Bar Professional Training Course when they are 27.

The teenager hopes eventually to be a fashion law specialist and will also take the American Bar exam so she can practice law in the U.S.  But as her parents are originally from the Bahamas and the British exams cover that country as well, she may practice there for a time.  She said: “I am honored to be the youngest person to pass the Bar exams but, really, I was not aware at the time what the average age was.  I didn’t fully realize the impact of it.”

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Scotland Yard Found Guilty of Discriminating Against Kevin Maxwell, a Gay, Black Officer

Kevin Maxwell
Kevin Maxwell

From the Times London:

Scotland Yard was found guilty today (May 14) of discrimination, harassment and victimisation against a black, gay officer who was dismissed for “discrediting the police service”.

The overwhelming ruling by an Employment Appeal Tribunal in favour of Kevin Maxwell raises questions about the Metropolitan Police’s public commitment to stamp out racism in its ranks.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met commissioner, pledged last year to be the “implacable enemy” of racism after a series of allegations against his officers.

Mr Maxwell, 34, a former detective constable in the Met’s Counter-terrorism Command, has fought a three-year legal battle with the Met since lodging a complaint about his treatment.

Stationed at Heathrow airport he complained of homophobic remarks and said ethnic minority officers were used as a “buffer” to stop passengers who would then be passed to white officers to be searched.

He lodged an employment tribunal claim but details of it, and especially comments about his sexuality, were leaked to The Sun newspaper.

In February 2012 an employment tribunal ruled in Mr Maxwell’s favor and also criticised senior Met officers for not appearing to understand their own policies on supporting whistleblowers.  Against the advice of the tribunal, the Met launched an appeal against the ruling.

Continue reading “Scotland Yard Found Guilty of Discriminating Against Kevin Maxwell, a Gay, Black Officer”

Michelle Obama, Prince Harry Honor Military Families at the White House

Michelle Obama and Prince Harry
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 09: HRH Prince Harry (L), stands with first lady Michelle Obama during an event to honor military families at the White House on May 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. Prince Harry will be undertaking engagements on behalf of charities with which the Prince is closely associated on behalf also of HM Government, with a central theme of supporting injured service personnel from the UK and US forces. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
First Lady Michelle Obama played hostess to a royal on Thursday, as Britain’s Prince Harry dropped by to kick off a weeklong visit to the U.S.  The soldier-prince and Mrs. Obama hosted a pre-Mother’s Day tea for a group of military moms and their kids, with the prince even chipping in as the kids made gift bags for their mothers.

After that, Harry headed off to the Russell Senate Office Building, where he was treated like a rock star by a crowd of about 500 screaming onlookers (mostly women and girls).  Back home, Harry serves as a co-pilot gunner in the British Army, and has served in Afghanistan. Championing military families has been one of Mrs. Obama’s signature causes, along with Dr. Jill Biden, her partner in the Joining Forces initiative.

article via thegrio.com

Three African-American Women Win Rhodes Scholarships

(L to R) Joy A. Buolamwini, Rhiana E. Gunn-Wright, and Nina M. Yancy

The Rhodes Scholarships, considered by many to be the most prestigious awards given to U.S. college students, were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. Each year, 32 Americans are named Rhodes Scholars. The scholarships provide funds for two or three years of graduate study at Oxford University in Britain. Rhodes Scholars from the United States join students from 14 other jurisdictions including Australia, southern Africa, Kenya, India, and Canada. All told, about 80 Rhodes Scholars worldwide are selected each year for study at Oxford.  In 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar. This year, three African American women were among the this year’s group of Rhodes Scholars.  

Joy A. Buolamwini is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she majored in computer science. She is currently working at the Carter Center in Atlanta. She has founded or co-founded three businesses. She plans on a degree in African studies at Oxford.

Rhiana E. Gunn-Wright is a 2011 graduate of Yale University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She has been working at Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C.  Her plan is to obtain a master’s degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Nina M. Yancy is a senior at Harvard University where she majors in social studies. Yancy grew up in the Dallas area but her family recently moved to Chicago. Yancy has had internships at CNN, the Center for American Political Studies and in the British House of Commons. She is a member of the Harvard Ballet Company. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in global health science as a Rhodes Scholar.

Continue reading “Three African-American Women Win Rhodes Scholarships”

Tate Modern Gallery Opens the Door to Africa

Meschac Gaba's Museum of Contemporary African Art

Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art. Photograph: Nils Klinger

Since the building of the great modern art museums in New York, Paris and London, the narrative of 20th-century and contemporary art has been told, by and large, through the stories of the great European and North American cities.  But the Tate has announced it is time to look further afield. “There is not a crisis in British or European art,” said the Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, “but we are conscious art is being made across the world and those areas outside Europe and North America cannot be regarded as the periphery.”

artist Otobong Nkanga

Tate will reflect its new international focus through a two-year programme of activities focused on Africa, beginning on 24 November. Events will include performance works in the new Tate Tanks by Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga and Angolan Nástio Mosquito. Next year, Tate Modern will show an extensive work that it has recently acquired by the artist Meschac Gaba, from Benin. Titled Museum of Contemporary African Art 1997-2002, and in 12 sections or “rooms”, it acts as a playful, questioning museum – while highlighting that there is, in fact, no such thing as a museum of contemporary African art.

Continue reading “Tate Modern Gallery Opens the Door to Africa”

Britain’s First Black Swim Champion Achieng Ajulu-Bushell Headed To International Competition!


By now Achieng Ajulu-Bushell has got used to the questions. Since April she has had to. That was the month when it all kicked off. At Ponds Forge in Sheffield she won both the 50 metres and the 100m breaststroke titles at the British championships. Some feat for a 16-year-old. But the press did not want to talk only about her age or her talent, it is the colour of her skin that has been attracting all the attention.  Ajulu-Bushell is of mixed race, the daughter of an English mother and a Kenyan father. When she competed at the European championships in Budapest last August, she became the first black woman ever to swim for Britain. The year before she had been representing Kenya at the world championships, but she decided to switch nationalities at the start of 2010.

Some have been predictably quick to claim that Ajulu-Bushell is living refutation of the ugly old assertion that black Africans cannot swim at the top level.  “It’s pretty crazy,” she says of all the coverage she has received. “I still don’t really understand it. It is an honour, the whole history of it, but it doesn’t really feel any different.”  Before the championships in Budapest it was pointed out to her again and again that no black African had ever won an international title. After Budapest that was still true – she had a terrible competition, knocked out in the heats of the 50m and failing to make the final of the 100m. The pressure got to her and understandably so – it was only a month before that she was finishing her GCSEs. The Commonwealth Games will be her first major meet since, and her first chance to make amends.

Those who fixate on Ajulu-Bushell’s colour miss the point. Her story is so much more than skin deep. Her father is Rok Ajulu, a prominent politics professor who now lives in South Africa. Ajulu was expelled from Kenya in the 1990s because of his active opposition to the repressive regime of the then president, Daniel arap Moi. Living in exile in England Ajulu met Helen Bushell. Their relationship did not last long, but Achieng was born in Warrington early in 1994. The next year the mother and daughter moved to Africa so Helen could pursue her aid work. Achieng’s first birthday was in Britain, her second in Malawi, her third in Uganda and her fourth in Kenya.

“I learned to swim when I was four years old,” Ajulu-Bushell remembers. “I went in with a dinghy, a rubber ring, armbands and I wouldn’t let my mum let go of me. I don’t really know how it started. I did my first competition at school when I was about six years old, a 25-metre freestyle.” At that age her school teacher, who had swum for South Africa herself, was already predicting that Ajulu-Bushell would be a star swimmer. As was the girl herself. Helen Bushell remembers the six-year-old Achieng drawing crayon pictures of herself winning her first Olympic medals.  “I got into it seriously when we moved to South Africa,” Achieng says. “Then when we settled in Kenya it was like ‘Well, I’m either going to carry on swimming or give it up, because obviously there aren’t the facilities to do it.'” She wanted to continue, and so moved back here to take up a place at Plymouth college, where she was in the same class as Tom Daley.

Eventually she switched nationalities, too. The Kenyan federation understood her move, and gave permission for her qualification to be fast-tracked. “That was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do,” she says. “It wasn’t a decision I really wanted to make. It was a lot of stress and pressure which I didn’t really want. But you can only have one sporting nationality. I was born in England, my mum lived in England and the support British swimming gives me is amazing.”  These days her ambitions stretch a long way beyond the swimming pool. She is applying to study politics, philosophy and economics at university. During the pre-Games camp in Qatar she was taking time out from training to write an A-level essay on the merits of constitutional versus unwritten law. The girl, you would guess, is going places. And not just in the pool.