Black History Month 2020
Cultural organisations across Liverpool have come together to curate an exciting programme of outdoor and virtual events, which celebrate Black History Month this October.
The events will promote equality and justice through a range of art forms and stand in solidarity with communities facing racial discrimination.
Liverpool, with the oldest Black community in Europe, has a vibrant heritage. Black History Month shines a light on the city’s history, including the slave trade and Black music heritage.
The festival also celebrates Black artistic excellence. Man Booker prize winner Marlon James will be in conversation, as well as Afrofuturist, Ytasha Womack, in Writing on the Wall’s literary events.
Toxteth’s Katumba drummers will bring their life-affirming rhythms and choreography to the final day of the festival.
Here is a list of highlights to look out for:
1/ Spread your Wings
Spread your Wings is a Movema dance programme, designed in response to Black Lives Matter. Movema want to create a platform for black dance artists to be celebrated, heard and supported.
The story is told through four symbolic birds – the Phoenix from Chinese culture, Peacock from Indian culture, Sankofa bird from Ghanaian culture and the Liver bird to represent British/Irish culture.
The programme includes a dance performance, masterclass and talk celebrating Black dance.
Caribbean Dance Masterclass, 16 October, 2pm- 4pm:
Barriers and challenges within the dance sector talk, online, 23 October, 1.30pm-3.30pm.
Taking Flight – outdoor dance performance, various locations/times, Liverpool City Centre, 31 October.
BHM World Fusion Class, online every Friday during October, 12.30pm – 1.15pm.
All classes and the discussion will take place on YouTube Live.
2/ On Record – Untold and Retold
A celebration and exploration of Black music in Liverpool and the role it has played in the city over the past 70 years.
The festival will bring together a streamed showcase, exhibition, screenings and a number of exclusive in-conversations.
There will also be specially commissioned original content, including film shorts, live sessions, podcasts and more.
Various venues/online platforms and timings, 23 October.
3/ Open Eye Gallery – Black History Month programme
Photography exhibition, Open Eye Gallery screens, Mann Island, 1 – 31 October, all day, free.
Open Eye Gallery are presenting two photographic exhibitions, a slavery tour and talk in support of Black History Month.
The tour will be taken by Laurence Westgaph, a specialist in British Black history and slavery.
An online talk reflects on Black Lives Matter activism in the six months between the events of May and October.
Laurence Westgaph, Liverpool and Slavery Guided Tours – Starts Open Eye Gallery, Mann Island, 6, 13, 20, and 27 October, 2pm-4pm. Booking link below.
Love Is An Action Reflection Talk – Online, a link will be shared online two weeks in advance, 29 October, 6pm-7pm, free.
4/ Journeys to the Underworld
Outside Central Library, William Brown St, 12 October, 9.30am and 8pm, free. Various locations, Liverpool City Centre, 10am – 3pm, free.
This production follows the journey of a poem by writer Francisco Carrasco, through the lives of indigenous people from Africa, the Americas and other parts of the world.
The poem is the backdrop to this spoken word, music and dance production. The performance includes people holding the poem with placards, representing the many journeys we travel.
5/ Mixed Heritage Mixer
Online, 15 October, 6pm, free. Pre-booking is essential.
Lorraine Maher (artist and founder of IamIrish) hosts a Mixed Heritage Mixer, to which she invites people of all dual/mixed heritage Irish backgrounds.
They will trade stories about racial assumptions and exchanges, and the experience of mixed-race Irish people at home or abroad.
The talk will also explore the additional pressures Covid-19 has placed on mixed-race individuals and the role of culture in helping access a person’s heritage.
6/ Katumba – Hallows Eve of the Orishas
St Luke’s ‘Bombed Out’ Church, Leece Street, 31 October, 4.30pm-8.30pm. Free to attend. Pre-booking is essential. Booking details tba.
Every Halloween, Katumba drummers transform Liverpool City Centre into a playground of imagination. They set streets ablaze with Brazilian drums, spectacular choreography and a colossal sound.
This year, Toxteth based Katumba, will give surprise pop-up performances throughout the day in the City Centre. The performances lead up to the main spectacle at St Luke’s ‘Bombed Out’ Church, Katumba Hallows Eve of the Orishas.
Traditionally from West Africa, Orishas are forces of nature who mediate and unite the other world and humanity
7/ Black Lives Matter Soundscapes
Online, 23 October, 7pm. Pre-booking is essential. Donations welcome.
BlackFest is bringing a live online digital performance of BLM Soundscapes. They include backdrops of Afro beats, jazz tones and an atmospheric feel, providing an immersive experience for the audience.
This piece has been developed by many creative voices including writers, singers and poets from Liverpool. It is a creative response in solidarity with the BLM movement.
8/ Writing on the Wall – Time to Breathe
Online, 1 – 31 October, various times
Writing on the Wall are presenting an exciting programme of events for Black History Month. These include some of the most inspirational local, national and international Black artists.
The events feature Man Booker Prize winner, Jamaican writer Marlon James and Berkeley Professor Stephen Small.
Bringing the struggle home, Liverpool’s first black MP Kim Johnson, and Tracey Gore, new chair of the city’s Race Task Force, will consider how we level the playing field in Liverpool.
Films from WoW’s Time to Breathe writing project also portray just how pressing that need is.
9/ Yemen in Conflict
Online, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, 1-31 October
Yemen in Conflict explores how Yemeni literature and poetry can be safeguarded, and how it can further our understanding of the situation in Yemen.
The event shows how storytelling and poetry can help our understanding of the situation, while showcasing the creativity of the Yemeni writers.
Four poem films – video works combining poetry and film – by Olivia Furber, Mariam Al-Dhubhani, Diyala Muir and Noor Palette, have been created in response to original poems by contemporary Yemeni poets Ahmed Alkhulaidi, Liverpool-based Amina Atiq, Hamdan Damaag and Dr Abdul Hakim Al-Qazi.
Pagoda Arts Centre, Henry Street, 12 October
Isolate is a musical project using hip hop and Chinese sounds. Pagoda Arts explore the various emotions and difficulties members of their youth orchestra faced during lockdown.
This includes thoughts on racism, isolation, loneliness and space. Instruments and popular sounds from both West and East, as well as English and Chinese vocals, will be combined to convey their message.
Pagoda Arts Centre, Henry Street, 12 October, times TBC.