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Black History Month: Great War to Race Riots Book Launch

Friday 20th October 
Time: 6.30pm
Toxteth Library, Windsor St, Liverpool, L8 1XF
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Join us for the launch of WoW’s latest book, Great War to Race Riots, the story of a unique archive of letters and documents from 1919-1920 which highlight the plight of black seafarers, soldiers and workers who supported the ‘mother country’ during the WW1. The archive contains the words of the men themselves in letters to Liverpool’s Lord Mayor, which were written against the back-drop of institutionalised racism, competition for jobs, and racial tensions which exploded into rioting on the streets of Liverpool in 1919. Great War to Race Riots, written by WoW’s Co-Director, Madeline Heneghan and local author, Emy Onuora (Pitch Black), is the culmination of in-depth research conducted by the Heritage Lottery funded Great War to Race Riots Archive Group. This dedicated team devoted their time and energies to uncovering the lost voices of these men who helped to shape Liverpool’s black community and contributed to Britain’s development.

This event also marks the launch of WoW’s first ever Black History Month Festival. Join us for a glass of wine or two, great music and lively discussion.

WoW would like to thank Joe Farrag, who brought the Archive to us and the Great War to Race Riots Group; Janaya Picket, Janet Johnson, Catherine Leen, Margaret Millne, Marmura Nyirenda, Rose Thomas, Sharon Lane, Suzanne Morris and Vicki Caren. The great War to Race Riots Archive group would like thanks the descendants of Robert Bynoe, Archibald Lyttle and Hubert Lewis for their support in the research process.

Black History Month: Walking Tour

Date: Saturday 21st October
Time: 1.30pm
Chinese Arch, Nelson Street, Liverpool, L1 5EW 
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As part of WoW’s Black History Month celebrations, we will be embarking on a historical walking tour of the L1 area, exploring a forgotten yet integral part of Liverpool’s cultural and racial history. Inspired by the hugely successful Great War to Race Riots Archive project and our on-going ‘Black Lives and Legacies 1919’ project, in association with Liverpool University, our volunteers have researched and mapped a history yet to be recognised in mainstream accounts of our city’s well documented past.

The racial riots of 1919 were a watershed moment for Liverpool’s longstanding black community. On the night of 6th June 1919 unprecedented racial violence erupted in the modern day Chinatown area that would continue for for days as gangs of people, reportedly in the hundreds or thousands, hunted out “any black man they could find … severely beating and stabbing” them. Black homes and businesses were looted and wrecked as over 700 members of the black community were removed from their homes into the main Bridewell, for their own protection.
As these people were, despite of the colour of their skin, citizens of the British Empire they could not be forcibly removed from the UK, much to the chagrin of Liverpool Council and Central Government.  The post WW1 economic and social slump encouraged xenophobic feeling amongst the local population, perpetuated by the media. During 1919 there was an increase in racial violence in other port towns across mainland Britain including Glasgow,Cardiff and others that signified a global antipathy towards ethnic minorities: this was the height of the Klu Klux Klan across the Atlantic and a period in Chicago’s history known as ‘The Red Summer’. 

Using official reports from the time we will trace the night of the 6th June 1919 visiting the residences of those involved as well as trailing the tragic last movements  of Charles Wootton, a 24 year old Bermudan sailor and victim of the 1919 riots, who was chased by a mob and drowned in Queens Dock. He was either swept, thrown or jumped in but once the dock was pelted with rocks. Not a single person was charged in connection with his death and the coroner’s ruling at the time supported this injustice. On the tour we will visit the memorial plaque laid for Charles Wootton by historian David Olusoga just last year.

We will then continue to trace the events of the week following Wootton’s death when large scale racial violence continued and spread into L8. The walking tour is just under 3 miles and accessible to all. We will finish at Toxteth Library just in time for a talk with David Olusoga about his award winning book Black and British. So join us, as with the aid of contemporary sources and photographs, we attempt to bring this lost piece of history back to life.

The tour will take place on Saturday the 21st October. We will begin at the Chinese Arch on Nelson Street at 1.30pm sharp so be sure to be prompt.

Black History Month: Benjamin Zephaniah and the Revolutionary Minds

Saturday 21st October
Time: 7:30pm until 1:00am
District Club, Jordan Street, Liverpool, L1 0BW 
Click here to buy your £12 ticket from Philharmonic Box Office

Philharmonic Box Office via telephone: 0151 709 3789 or directly from their Box Office from 9.30am-6pm.

Writing on the Wall and Positive Vibration are proud to present Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds. Pioneering dub poet, writer, social commentator and music maker Benjamin Zephaniah has teamed up with renowned producer & engineer, 'The Sea', to create the incredibly timely album (and band) - 'Revolutionary Minds'.

On Saturday 21st October, we get to hear this powerful new dub reggae album, which tackles the indigestible topic of the world we live in today - from political & economic corruption and global warming to rampant racism and fascist patriarchy.

Amid this chaos, 'Revolutionary Minds' is the soundtrack for the modern revolutionist. It will make you feel empowered, hopeful, galvanised to make a difference and make you dance: it’s a dub thing.

This highlight event is part of Writing on the Wall's Black History Month mini Festival with further details about upcoming debates and discussions to follow.


Contact WoW

Address:  Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1TH
Map: Click Here for our location page

Tel:  0151 703 0020

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