Black History 365 Cultural Commissions: What’s happening in October?

We’re celebrating Black History all year with our Black History 365 cultural commissions – but as Black History Month approaches, here’s a roundup of the what’s going to be happening throughout October as part of our programme, as well as some of the other brilliant events taking place across Wandsworth.

Thu 5 October, 6pm – 7.30pm
Tracing African Caribbean Ancestry Drop-in Sessions
Balham Library, Free

Offering one-to-one support, Tracing African Caribbean Ancestry Drop-in Sessions offers expert guidance from renowned genealogist and author Paul Crooks, on getting started tracing Black British, Caribbean and North American ancestry, overcoming online barriers and finding ancestors born in the 1800s.

Wed 18 October, 6pm – 9.30pm
Hidden Treasures Documentary Screening at Yeah Ok! Poetry Night
Battersea Arts Centre, Free

Hidden Treasures is a creative project led by award-winning Black Fine Jeweller and multidisciplinary artist Kassanda Lauren Gordon, commissioned by Wandsworth Council. Over three free sessions held at The Pump House Gallery in June 2023, participants were invited to celebrate Black Heritage and lineage through workshops, arts, jewellery and conversation. Alongside the workshops, The Hidden Treasures project conducted intergenerational interviews, collating oral histories with local people centred on adornment. The resulting short film, combining stories from workshops and interviews, will be screened and discussed at Yeah OK! monthly poetry event at Battersea Arts Centre on Wed 18 October 2023.

Fri 20 October, 1pm – 3pm
Eclectic Gift – Womenkind: The Joy and Complexities of Colour
Earlsfield Library, Free

Womenkind, seeks to combat, loneliness, and isolation, low self esteem and low mood by providing a space for women to be validated, heard and to learn new skills. Each workshop will feature a topic of discussion and participants can delve as lightly or heavily as they feel comfortable as we share our experiences and ideas around the subject matter. Participants will take the ideas from our discussion to express themselves through creating a personal piece of artwork. We will experiment with various mediums such as pencils, charcoal, pastels, markers, watercolours & collage having lots of fun and creating connections along the way. Absolutely no experience is necessary and the group is open to all women of colour living in the Borough of Wandsworth. Any and no Faith welcome!

Sat 21 October, 3pm – 5pm
The African Fashion and Textiles Experience Workshop 2:
History of African Textiles in Celebration of National BHM
York Gardens Library, Free for Wandsworth Residents

The African Fashion and Textiles Experience a series of 6 monthly interactive creative workshops exploring African fashions and textile history, running from September 2023 – February 2024, commissioned by Wandsworth Council as part of our Black History 365 programme.
In the Black History Month edition of the series, artist Fée Uhssi explores the diversity of African textiles and their evolution through history, and invites participants to design a fabric to tell their own story.

Wed 25 October, 6pm – 7.30pm
Tracing UK Black Ancestry: The Truth About What’s in a Name
Battersea Library, Free

In this masterclass, Paul Crooks will reveal new insights into names and naming practices within North American enslaved societies, with a focus on Jamaica as a proxy for other parts of North America.
Audiences will gain insight from historical documents related to Paul’s search for his ancestors, including his journey to bring his black family history to life, name-giving within slave society, the tradition of Caribbean nicknaming, evidence of covert resistance by his ancestors and enslaved communities in Jamaica to the imposition of slave names, documents revealing the widespread use of African names prior to emancipation, and the adoption of surnames following emancipation in British colonies in 1838.

What’s happening across Wandsworth

Fri 29 September, 11am
Blue Plaque unveiling for Legendary Singer, Actor and Cabaret Star Evelyn Dove
25a Barnard Road, Battersea SW11 1QT

A blue plaque is to be unveiled to mark the former home of the ground-breaking singer and performer Evelyn Dove (1902 -1987), in the London Borough of Wandsworth.
Evelyn achieved a number of firsts throughout the course of her life, but perhaps her most notable achievement was becoming the first woman of African heritage to be broadcast on BBC Radio, three years after its launch in 1925. She starred in various productions for the station during the ‘30s and ‘40s, and had her own music series, ‘Sweet and Lovely’. In 1945 she hosted ‘Serenade in Sepia’ with Trinidadian folk singer Edric Conner which ran for forty-five weeks, proving so popular that it also aired on television.
To launch the 2023 BHM season in the UK, Nubian Jak Community Trust has partnered with the Sony Music UK Social Justice Fund with support from The Battersea Society and Wandsworth Council, to install the plaque at Evelyn’s childhood home at 25a Barnard Road in Battersea. Speakers will include Stephen Bourne, her biographer, Rick Dove her great nephew and slam poetry winner, Dr Jak Beula, entrepreneur and cultural activist, and Marsha de Cordova MP.

The unveiling will be followed by a reception at Battersea Arts Centre, 12pm – 2pm. 

Evelyn Dove Commemorative Plaque Unveiling

Fri 6 October, 6pm – 8pm
In conversation with Louise Hare and De Velma McClymont: In Celebration of Our Sisters.
Earlsfield Library Hall Room, Free

To mark Black History Month Wandsworth Council has put together a literary event that will see two local authors interviewed live on stage.

Louise Hare and Dr Velma McClymont will be discussing their writing and taking part in a book signing on Friday 6th October at Earlsfield Library Hall Room.

Louise Hare is a Wandsworth based author, who before turning her hand to writing, worked in the travel industry. Her debut novel ‘This Lovely City’, which was published in 2020 has been described as a Windrush novel, which offers a vivid portrait of the Immigrant experience in Post-war London.  

The book which is set in Brixton in the 1950’s, began life after a trip into the deep level shelter below Clapham Common, is a murder mystery, with a strong focus on the community.  Her latest novel Harlem After Midnight was released this year.

Dr Velma McClymont is a writer, poet, international speaker and the director/publisher of WomanzVue Books. A Windrush child, Dr. McClymont was born in rural Jamaica and joined her parents in Battersea in the late 1960’s and attended Notre Dame Roman Catholic High School.  

In the late 70’s early 80’s her father owned a travel agency in Battersea and growing up her parents’ home was a hub for the local community. Also known as writer Kate Elizabeth Ernest, her books include Hope Leaves Jamaica (1993), and Birds in the Wilderness (1996). Her latest novel Little River is a historical story of a Scottish sugar baron and the Jamaica his life becomes enmeshed with.

The two will be interviewed by journalist and south-Londoner Lorna Cooper. 

Lorna will talk about the role Windrush plays in their writing, discuss their passion for writing and how they got started, along with the inspirations, successes and the challenges experienced by both authors. They will also be offering tips on how to kickstart a writing career and get published to budding writers. This event will be an opportunity for you to ask the authors questions and purchase/get your books signed. 

Book your space here.

Sat 14 October, 12pm – 5pm
Pan African Book Foundation: Celebration of Africa
Devas Club, 2a Stormont Road, SW11 5EN, Free

Come and join in the celebrations of African literature, arts and culture with the Pan African Book Foundation. We’ll be having live music, interactive storytelling, comedy and more…

Taste some delicious African food and take a virtual tour of 575 Wandsworth Road.

Discover more Black History Month events in Wandsworth: Wandsworth – Black History Month 2023