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'SHARING THE PAST' - NBHA Book Launch - Thursday 6/11/2008

Thursday 6 November 2008, 7.30pm, at Central Library, Abington Street, Northampton
Northamptonshire Black History Association is publishing an important and unique book this week. Sharing the Past: Northamptonshire Black History has been written by fifteen members and supporters of the Northamptonshire Black History Association. It presents an overview of the county’s links to the wider world, and especially to Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent.
Fully illustrated in colour, this 150-page book is the first publication telling a rich variety of local Black History stories and setting them in historical context. It is also the first local Black History book which links together evidence from the distant past with the more recent histories of local communities with African and Asian roots.
The book will interest members of local communities and everyone with an interest in Northamptonshire’s history. It is also a valuable resource for local teachers, who will be aware of recent National Curriculum reforms requiring a more inclusive version of British History to be taught in schools. Sharing the Past provides the background knowledge needed by teachers who are already beginning to use NBHA’s Shaping the Future school curriculum publications (full details of these are available on the NBHA website: Education).
Sharing the Past is a milestone in local Black History. This publication puts Northamptonshire at the forefront of researching, recording and teaching an important part of British History. The publication has been sponsored by the University of Northampton, with additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Shaping the Future project) and from NBHA’s own funds.
The book is dedicated to the post-war community leaders who have helped to make Northamptonshire a better place.


Sharing the Past: Northamptonshire Black History 

Get up, Stand up! Matta Fancanta wins Heritage Lottery Funding - Wednesday 3/9/2008

The recent history of the 1970s’ black-led youth music movement, Matta Fancanta, is to be documented in a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Northamptonshire Black History Association has been granted £47,000 to explore the history of Matta Fancanta through film documentary, with interviews of founding members of the group and through a touring exhibition and stage production.
The group, which grew to a membership of almost 600, gave a voice to those who felt marginalized by the society of Northampton at the time. Events held in the town became well known with Saturday night dances attracting people from all over the country. The big sound system was also toured around to other groups and Matta Fancanta earned a reputation for providing cultural music to a wide range of young people.
The Northamptonshire Black History Association will engage volunteers in collecting and collating the press coverage from the time and will collate memories from participants and members of the community about the role that Matta Fancanta played in the development of a rich, cultural heritage of the black community.
The living memories will also be used to inspire today's young people to create theatrical performances.
Nikki Taylor of the Northamptonshire Black History Association said: “We are delighted to get the grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund. We have found renewed interest in this recent episode in our history and we wanted to show how we can use the past to reflect on the changes that have taken place politically and socially with young people. People want to tell their side of the story and it will show the younger members of our town how it was for the generation before theirs”.
Emma Sayer, Regional Manager of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East Midlands commented: “People think of heritage as being something that's a long way back in the past, but it can be much more recent than that. This project will demonstrate that something that raised eyebrows at the time can actually show how a whole generation forged a community using music as a common thread”.
Horace Cohen was a founding member of the group and he said: “When we were young we travelled up and down the country with our sound systems and were welcomed into different communities. Nowadays young people are stabbed for stepping outside their postcode. We can show how it can be done differently”.
Nikki Taylor added: “It was a time when young people made a stand for their community, not by rioting or causing trouble, but by reaching out with music to help marginalized young people feel as if they belonged. Perhaps we can learn from this.


Matta Fancanta


Making the Most of It: Black History and British Education
Conference aim: to promote inclusive education which draws upon Black History research and resources, involving parents and community groups as well as teachers and pupils.
The Programme includes plenary sessions and a choice from ten workshops on Black History in Schools and Education Beyond the Classroom. Speakers: Hakim Adi, Martin Spafford, Dan Lyndon, Nikki Taylor, Rachel Silverson, SuAndi, Melsia Tomlin-Kraftner, Arthur Torrington, Marcia Hutchinson, Paul Bracey, Tony T, Lloyd Russell, Beresford Lee, Caroline Hussey-Bain, Marika Sherwood and June Bam-Hutchison. Bookstalls and exhibitions will include Primary Colours, Black History Timeline, Northants Black History Association, Caribbean Ancestral Journey.
Please read attached conference Programme for details of sessions. 
Conference registration is open now! Book early to guarantee your place at this exciting event. Registration fee includes lunch and drinks during the day.
Individual registration
Young people under 16
Institutional registration (each attendee)
For Conference Registration Form email or write to Julia Bush, (BASA Conference), University of Northampton, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 6QS.


Black And Asian Studies Association

Petition in Support of Walter Tull - Tuesday 1/1/2008

2nd Lieutenant Walter Tull was the first Black infantry officer in the British Army. He was the first Black infantry officer to lead White troops into battle. He was the first Black infantry officer to be mentioned in despatches and was the first Black infantry officer to be recommended for a Military Cross, which he never received.
Walter Tull was the first Northampton Town footballer to enlist in British Expeditionary Force, in December 1914, joining the Footballers' Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He was commissioned an officer in May, 1917, at a time when the Manual of Military Law stated that 'aliens' (including 'Negroes') can be commissioned in an honorary rank but must not 'exercise any actual command or power'.
During the First World War the army broke their rules when commissioning Walter because he was an outstanding soldier and they were short of officers. In doing so they set a precedent. Ironically, Walter was probably not given his MC because of this: once the recommendation had been passed further down the (bureaucratic) line it was realised that, as a 'Negroe' Walter was prohibited from 'exercising...command and power' and therefore, de facto, could not be given his Military Cross for leading his Company of (White) troops on a dangerous mission into enemy territory and bringing them back unharmed.
In recent communications with the Ministry of Defence they have argued they cannot award Walter his Military Cross because his case now falls outside the time period allowed for posthumous acknowledgement and, if they did break this rule for him, they would be setting a precedent.
A precedent was set in 1917 by promoting Tull to 2nd Lieutenant because it was expedient and suited the army. A unique precedent should now be set in awarding Walter his long overdue and much deserved medal for bravery in a war in which he made the ultimate sacrifice.
It is manifestly unjust for Walter to be denied his medal because his character, ability and popularity raised him to a level at which he and his kind were barred. To be denied his MC because of his strengths is not only unfair but mocks the notion of justice.
We call upon Parliament, through this petition, to correct this historical error and posthumously award 2nd Lieutenant Walter Tull his Military Cross.


Walter Tull was the first Black infantry officer in the British Army. Copyright : © Finlayson Family Archive

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