The Bedford College Group celebrated Black History Month with a Black Heroes and Heroines event on Wednesday October 20th. It included guest speakers, music and art within the prestigious South Bank centre at the riverside campus of Bedford College.
From Northampton was speaker Tré Ventour
Artist-Educator and Writer (Race and Black History)
Bylines: Critical Studies of Television; Wonkhe; Diverse Ed
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L-M Sharon, Tré, Carmela, singer Daniel Vacchio and Emmanuel
Emmanuel Amissah is a Maths teacher for arts students at Bedford College. He has established an online group Africaniwa. He told the assembled: “I am came from Ghana 2005 to the UK. I found people expected me to know about Africa … 54 different countries. I had no idea! So during lockdown with friends we formed a group to share our stories & actual experiences Africaniwa to share our stories. In November we are hearing from someone about forgotten war memorials in Africa.”
Bedford author Desmond Clark was there with this book ‘Stolen Inheritance’. Desmond is a former student of the College who, as a mature student, progressed from a GCSE in English in 1991 to obtain a degree and Masters.
In addition, copies of the ‘Black and British Book’ by TV’s David Olusoga are being offered to all students across The Bedford College Group. This new edition of the book is aimed at a younger audience but is good introduction some of the issues of Black History in the UK.
This October event was organised by Bedford College’s staff member Carmela Martiello who points out: “Representation and narrative are key to change.
“Bedford as a town has speakers of 100 different languages and a population of which 28% identify as “non-British” heritage.” The area does have a large population of first, second and now third generation Italians.
This October event follows on from a earlier event staged the town’s Quarry Theatre in August.
That was a collaboration between the SpectaculARTS organisation which is pioneering opportunities for young people through the arts. Governor of The Bedford College Group Sharon De Leonardis, is CEO of SpectaculARTS (PHOTO).
The paintings exhibited there were by a range of college art students, staff and specially invited artists. These will be all be on show again at the college.
Artworks include: Jimi Hendrix (Music) , Ornette Coleman (Music), Claudia Jones (Notting Hill Carnival), Daisy Bates (Activist), Mary Jackson (NASA), Harriet Tubman (activist), Mary Edmonia Lewis (sculptor), Rosa Parks (civil rights), Morgan Freeman (actor), Rhianna (music), Marsha P Johnson (activist), Laverne Cox (actor), Alicia Keys (music), SZA (Music), Nina Simone (music), Barack Obama (POTUS), Tupac Amaru Shakur (Music and Actor), Beyoncé (Music), Claudette Colvin (civil rights), Billie Holiday (Music), Benjamin Clemantine (poet), Emmanuel Amisshah (college tutor), Will Smith (actor), Winnie Harlow (fashion model), Amy Sherald (painter), Cyril G. Cupid (athlete), Stephen K. Amos (comedian), Aretha Franklin (Music), Martin Luther King) (civil rights), Dave aka Santan Dave (rapper), Erykah Bahdu (Music), Alton Mason (Model), Bob Marley (Music) and George Washington Carver (Scientist).
“SpectaculARTS is delighted the exhibition showcases an array of individuals from past and present who have made inspired contributions to culture and society. The exhibition aims to educate society at large and balance under represented or mis-represented aspects of Black history,” says Sharon,
“I am so proud to be a Governor at The Bedford College Group which became College of the Year in 2020.
“Bedford College is now leading in its approach for race equality and is one of the only colleges within the UK that has created its own race equality committees for students and staff. As part of my work in the community, have had 100s of meetings with a mixture organisations, and so many still have ‘race equality’ under EDI (equality diversity and inclusion) but this topic of race equality is so big as it affects every aspect of life and deserves to be looked at separately. Bedford College has embraced this and I have noticed now the commitment for creating solutions.
“It would be my personal dream for The Bedford College Group to lead the way in this area and for this approach to be adopted nationally by all colleges within the UK.
“Bedford has such a rich mix of different cultures which work in harmony together, but now its time for Bedford to lead the way. The future is looking better with young people joining the conversation for race equality.”