BHM 2023 exhibition and discussion evening: Oxford African Caribbean Histories Archive
As part of Brookes Black History Month, the Oxford Brookes Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Network (EDIN) and the Oxfordshire Community Education Group co-organised an exhibition and discussion evening on local African Caribbean histories.
The events were part of a wider ongoing community-led initiative to reconstruct and expand an archive which gives insights into the African Caribbean presence and experience in Oxford and Oxfordshire.
The exhibition was curated by Foundation Arts and Design lecturer Rachel Barbaresi and shown in the foyer of the Richard Hamilton Building during October 2023.
The show included archival photographs, video recordings and artefacts as well as stories and memories they hold for community members.
Most photographs on display had formed part of an exhibition in 1979, which was titled ‘Reminiscences’ and organised by the African Caribbean Oral History Project.
A video was screened in the foyer showing interviews with members of the Windrush generation in Oxford, recorded by community members in the 1980s through a collaboration with Film Oxford.
Following this year’s BHM theme ‘Saluting Our Sisters’, the exhibition also highlighted impactful women in the African Caribbean community.
Over the years, members of the African Caribbean History Project have examined archives, collected artefacts and displayed the original exhibition throughout Oxford and Oxfordshire.
The archival artefacts shown at Brookes have been digitised in a collaboration emerging from the knowledge exchange project ‘Finding Our Way: Space, Reclamation, and the Afro-Caribbean Experience in Oxford’, with researchers from Oxford Brookes and Torch at Oxford University, as well as Euton Daley and the Unlock the Chains collective.
Together with Dolcie Obhiozele from the Oxford Community Education Group, EDIN research fellow Hanna Klien-Thomas co-organised a discussion evening on the power of the community archive and Black History in Oxford.
Before the event opened to the public, students from the School of the Built Environment were guided through the exhibition followed by a Q&A with community members. The discussion event started with a guest lecture by Dr Nigel Carter (Oxford Community Action) exploring the wider context of the Oxford African Caribbean Histories Archive drawing on Black British and Caribbean traditions of intellectual thought.
Inviting the audience to join the discussion, Dolcie Obhiozele highlighted milestones for the archive and key contributions by community members. Osmond Charles and Arona Jones-Ellis provided an insight into future plans and next steps for the community archive group.
The event was followed by a buffet dinner with a Caribbean inspired menu at The Terrace restaurant, providing opportunity to network and make new connections. All events were kindly supported by the Brookes EDI team.
The Oxfordshire Community Education Group stated: "This exhibition celebrates the first arrival of the Windrush generation in Oxford, it is vitally important that their contributions are recognized. We intend to continue to build on this in the future."