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Black History Month #BHM2014

Black History Month Everyday of the Year

October has been Black History Month in the UK since 1987. We’re tempted to say that in Brixton, every month is Black History Month, and the place which is the constant proof for that is a great and unique institution: Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square.

The heritage centre opened in July 2014, after 33 years of organising by a group of black artists, activists, and teachers, who met during the uprisings of 1981 and decided to “create an archive that commemorated and educated people on the forgotten history of black people in Britain and offset the violence with understanding and education.” (Hannah Ellis-Petersen, ‘Black Cultural Archives unveils new centre in Brixton,’ 29 July 2014)

Dame Jocelyn Barrow, one of the founding members of the BCA and the first black woman governor of the BBC:

“[N]one of the museums or archives really reflected the lives of our community and of African and Caribbean people in this country. So one of the important things was to have an archive that reflects the African and Caribbean presence in this country, for the native population and for the children of African and Caribbean parents to understand why we are here, what brought us here and what are our struggles and achievements. It’s important there is a repository of those achievements. It’s taken years of hard work, struggle and constant pleading to people to get this on the mainstream agenda.”

BCA director Paul Reid:

“I personally believe that history and heritage has a functional role to play in addressing [inequalities and disparities]. It has a functional role to play in how people see themselves. (…) It’s in the oral history testimonies, it’s in the oral tradition, its in art, it’s in sculpture it’s in music. It’s always been there in culture, but it’s also in the records offices, it’s in the cemeteries, it’s in the hard documented evidence. So we want to combine those kinds of tangible and intangible heritage and start to tell fascinating stories through this archive, and I believe if we do that we actually do put something out there to get people to re-think who we are and who we feel we are.”

Dr Hakim Adi, a historian and trustee of the BCA:

“It shows black history is mainstream and is important in telling the story of Britain over the past 2,000 years.”

Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain

The first exhibition at the archive, Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain, explores narratives of Black women throughout history. It runs until 30 November. Admission is free, and the exhibition is accompanied by a multitude of talks and workshops, all well worth checking out.


Brixton Pound is proud to feature BCA’s founder, Len Garrison, on the B£1 paper note:


LENFORD (KWESI) GARRISON (1943-2003), Academic, community activist and co-founder of the Black Cultural Archives. Len’s life’s work was to catalogue the development of the black British identity and its history. Len co-founded the BCA in the heart of Brixton Market, Coldharbour Lane in 1981.

It was you, Brixton people, who voted for the Heroes and Sheroes that feature on paper Brixton Pounds, and on both the first and second edition notes, a number of Black Brixtonites are represented. We felt it was a big deal, and it constantly reminds us of the importance of history and representation.


On the B£5 is Luol Deng (born 1985), professional basketball player for the GB national basketball team and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls (now Miami Heat). Born in what is now South Sudan, Deng emigrated as a child and moved with his family to Brixton. There he joined England’s 15-and –under basketball team at Brixton Basketball Club marking the beginning of his basketball career.


On the first edition B£1 is Olive Morris, a radical political activist and community organiser who established the Brixton Black Women’s Group, and played a pivotal role in the squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s. Olive was born in Jamaica in 1952 and moved with her family to Britain aged 9. She was a Brixton resident from 1961-1975 and died at the age of 27 from cancer.


On the first edition B£10 is C. L. R. James, the Trinidadian journalist, historian, socialist thinker and anti-colonialist who chose to spend his final years on the ‘front line’ of Brixton.

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Join TTB’s Local Entrepreneurs Forum!

Our friends Transition Town Brixton are looking for 10 local enterprises that want some help to propel themselves into the local economic stratosphere!

Brixton Energy

Transition Town Brixton helped Brixton Energy to launch its pioneering solar power scheme in 2012 (photo www.brixtonblog.com)

TTB is a community-led initiative working to plan a transition to a low-energy future. In 2013 they published their REconomy reports on the real benefits of localising the food and energy economy in Lambeth. Money that circulates locally does far more good than money that escapes into the shareholder pockets and down the long supply chains of the big corporates (yeah, we already knew that! :) )

TTB are looking for 10 local enterprises (or would-be enterprises) to take part in the Local Entrepreneurs Forum, a powerful catalyst for a new kind of economy in Brixton and Lambeth which will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, and other changemakers to learn from each other, form new relationships, and join efforts on new enterprises. Local entrepreneurs will pitch to a Community of Dragons (everyone!) to get investment, support, and training such as business planning, pitching, local marketing, business networking, etc.

This is a tried and tested model which Transition Town Totnes have been using for 3 years. Here’s a short film about their 2014 Forum:

This event and process is central to community-supported economic regeneration. Everyone has a stake in their local economy and can be an investor too (not just of money). Entrepreneurs supported by the community do better, and the economy does better, too! Everybody wins.

Want to be one of the LAMBETH REconomy enterprises?

  • PLEASE CHECK the characteristics of a ‘Transition Enterprise’ to see the kind of enterprise TTB are trying to support and bring into existence – social, ethical, appropriately local, committed to the area, future-appropriate. Read of some examples of pioneering  businesses that are contributing to the local community, the local economy and keeping value local.
  • Then fill in the short application form here ASAP – first warm-up event will take place in November.

For more details or to talk it over email [email protected] and/or phone/text 07958 635181.

You can read more about the event and other work Transition Town Brixton do here.

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Brixton Flavours meets the B£

Here’s a guest blog post from Oliver Mernick-Levene, the founder of the Brixton Flavours festival, which will celebrate the food of Brixton and use B£s!



I’m extremely excited to tell you about a new, day-long food and drink festival, coming to Brixton on Sunday 26 October, called Brixton Flavours.  The festival will celebrate the mouth-watering tastes and delicious restaurants which can be found on Atlantic Road, Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, Market Row and Windrush Square.



We have all known for years that Brixton has, without a doubt, the best food in London.  So, it’s now time to shout about it! Let’s bring together locals, Londoners and tourists alike to enjoy and revel in the warm atmosphere and diversity that is Brixton.

Though the focus of the festival is very much on the delicious food, it’s worth noting that Brixton Flavours is also a community project, aimed at supporting local businesses, restaurants and traders. Over 80 percent of the revenue goes to the participating venues and the festival will be run using paper Brixton Pounds as tokens.

It works like this: when you buy a ticket online for £15, it gets exchanged for B£15. This can then be spent in over 22 restaurants and pop-ups in Brixton centre on the day of the festival (Sun, 26th Oct). If that wasn’t good enough, ticket holders also get a special wristband giving them an ‘open pass’ to try yummy samples in over 22 Brixton venues as well.  Who can say fairer than that?

Similar to the B£, Brixton Flavours is designed to support smaller shops and traders, promote jobs and community awareness, and finally help everyone enjoy all the wonderful tastes and flavours of Brixton. This is a great opportunity to see so many wonderful places to eat, in just one day and we certainly don’t want any lazy taste buds here. So, together let’s make Brixton Flavours a festival that everyone in Brixton is proud of.

To buy tickets go to www.BrixtonFlavours.com

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