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Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain

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A historical journey through the lives of ex-slaves, entertainers, journalists, educators and more, Re-imagine showcases the many contributions of black women across the globe. Starting from the 1600s to the present day, the exhibition travels through time with a collection of photographs, audio notes and videos.

In 2009 the Black Cultural Archive (BCA) received a £4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing it to finally open its doors in July 2014. Originally a charity founded in 1948 by politicians, artist and activists, the BCA’s main mission is to create a platform for teaching and learning about the heritage and history of black people in Britain and encourage dialogue.

The history of black women in the UK tends to only focus from a slave perspective, ignoring the importance of heroic figures that opened doors, not on for black women, but women in general. Re-imagine encourages viewers to recreate and envision these figures. The reconstructed face of Ivory Bangle Lady, a high status African woman in living in 4th Century AD Rome, is one of the first images to be displayed in the exhibition.

Showcasing the lives of many phenomenal black women such as Phillis Wheatley; born in Senegambia but taken to the USA at the age of seven to be sold to the Wheatley family. At the age of 20 she became the first published African women in Britain and the USA. Also the well-known author Beryl Gilroy, the first black head teacher and described by the Guardian as “one of Britain’s most significant post-war Caribbean migrants” and Stella Thomas, an Oxford graduate and first woman magistrate in Nigeria.

Multicultural Britain is an image associated with the late 20th century, but Re-imagine dispels this myth and builds upon history to show the involvements of Black Women in Western society. Located at 1 Windrush Square, Brixton, London, SW2 1EF, Re-imagine finishes on the 30th of November. For more information visit the Black Cultural Archive website.

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