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Story of black leaders that reaches across generations

26 October, 2018 — By Suzie Barrett

West Indian World deputy editor Tony Douglas and editor Russell Pierre interviewing journalist Leila Howe Hassan, left, a member of the Black Unity and Freedom Party and editor of Race Today, in Islington in 1974. She sits opposite Barbara Beese, one of the Mangrove Nine and a member of British Black Panthers

MORE than 40 years after working for the country’s first national black newspaper, a photographer is back in Islington for an exhibition marking Black History Month.

Neil Kenlock, who was British Black Panthers’ official photographer and founder of radio station Choice FM, took photographs for West Indian World newspaper, based in Newington Green in the 1970s.

The exhibition, Expectations: The Untold Story of Black British Leaders in the 1960 and 1970s, curated by Mr Kenlock and his daughter, Emelia, includes his personal archives covering two decades.

It commemorates black community leaders, many of whom come from the Windrush generation who arrived in Britain 70 years ago, and sheds light on the experiences of first-generation African and Caribbean im­migrants. It aims to spark a conversation with younger generations by telling untold stories from Black British culture.

Anti-discrimination campaigner and women’s and squatters’ rights activist Olive Morris, right, with friend Lia Obi

Mr Kenlock said: “Many young black people from our community only engage with heritage when they visit museums during educational studies. This project aims to give access to examples of black leadership, as well as archive material outside of the normal educational environment.

“Over 50 years since the concept of ‘black excellence’ first manifested and 70 years on from Windrush, I truly hope the exhibition will add to the national cultural narrative and resonate with new audiences.

“I would like to thank Islington Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support in the realising of this vision.”

Mr Kenlock moved to London from Jamaica to join his parents in 1963. A professional photo­grapher for 20 years, he took photographs for Britain’s Black Panther movement, which fought for the rights of black people. He also recorded anti-racism protests across the UK.

Islington cabinet councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz, said: “Black History Month is an important opportunity to pause and reflect on black experiences and culture in Britain and the world. It’s a moment for us to look back and see how far we have come in the fight for equality, and the changes we must still fight to achieve.”

The free exhibition runs from Tuesday to November 25 at Isling­ton’s Central Library. There will be a chance to meet Mr Kenlock at a free Q&A session on November 8.


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