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Black History Month 2019

Tower Hamlets has an amazingly diverse and jam-packed programme of events to mark this significant occasion. With over 100 different workshops, screenings, concerts, exhibitions, talks and more, there is something for everyone. Full details of all the events in Tower Hamlets can be found in the brochure here.

Black History Month Events in Idea Stores and libraries are listed below:

Exhibition: Peter James
Tuesday 1 October - Sunday 3 November
An exhibition of the extraordinary artwork of Peter James, long time Whitechapel resident who came to London from Trinidad in 1955. Peter’s striking and intense drawings, paintings and masks reflect his cultural roots in Trinidad and Notting Hill.
Idea Store Canary Wharf

Exhibition: Somali End End
Tuesday 1 – Thursday 31 October
An exhibition examining the history of Somali migration to Tower Hamlets. Parts of this exhibition were produced by Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives in partnership with KAYD Somali Arts & Culture and Mayfield House Day Centre in 2013, and is now revitalised through the work of Numbi Arts. The exhibition now features the Aqal, a nomadic structure travelling from one site to another, engaging local residents with Somali presence in the East End.
Idea Store Whitechapel

Celebrating Claude McKay: Poet and Activist
Thursday 3 October, 6:00 - 8:30
Join us to celebrate the life and activism of Jamaican-American poet and activist Claude McKay who arrived in London’s east end 100 years ago. McKay became the first black newspaper editor in the UK when he was hired to write for Sylvia Pankhurst’s Workers Dreadnought. Historian S. I. Martin will talk about his political activism and its legacy today.
The evening will also include a panel discussion, Q&A and readings of McKay’s poems. Hosted in conjunction with the Philip Morgan Legacy Group. Doors open at 6.00pm, talks begin from 6.30pm.
Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Somali Heritage Day
Friday 4 October, 11:00am - 4:00pm
Somali Women’s Conversation Club present Somali Heritage Day. Everyone’s invited to this showcase of Somali heritage and culture, which has been specially puttogether by local Somali residents who meet regularly at Idea Store Bow. Enjoy various activities such as cultural dance, see a display of Somali ornaments and understand their significance. Try Somali food, snacks, face painting and henna. The event is designed to open up Somali heritage to a wider audience, breaking down cultural barriers so as to help neighbours learn more about each other. If you’ve wanted to know more about Somali culture, and chat to Somali residents learning English and other skills with Idea Store Learning, join us at this family friendly drop-in event!
Idea Store Bow

Women Unite Against Racism: 25 Years On
Saturday 5 October, 2:00 - 4:00pm
In 1993, The British National Party won its first council seat in a by-election in Tower Hamlets, where their candidate Derek Beackon won by seven votes. The election triggered fear in the Asian community in Tower Hamlets and, as a response, Julie Begum, Georgie Wemyss and others set up Women Unite Against Racism (WUAR). The group provided childcare services to support women’s attendance at meetings and on demonstrations, to ensure women’s experiences and voices were heard by taking it in turns to speak at rallies and setting up stalls to register women to vote, empowering them to be part of the otherwise male dominated antiracist struggle in Tower Hamlets.
Join us to explore their activism more deeply and explore their legacy 25 years on.
To book please email
Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Somali History Lab: Somali Protest in the East End
Thursday 10 October. 6:00 - 7:30pm
Join Salma Bihi of NUMBI Arts to explore the unique library materials chronicling the history of Somali  protest in the East End through discussion.
Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Workshop: Adzawele Ghanaian Dance
Tuesday 15 October, 1:00 - 3:00pm
Let Idea Store Learning dance teacher George guide you through the traditions and culture behind the Adzawele Ghanaian dance, with hands on activities. You will learn about the historical background of African music and dance, the tribal systems and their differences and how their manifestation in dance relates to wider culture and society.
Idea Store Whitechapel

Spoken Word Poetry Workshop
Thursday 17 October, 9:30am - 12:00pm
Spoken word poetry is a simple but powerful way to communicate and it doesn’t need to use complex language. Black cultures have strong traditions of spoken word poetry, using it as a form to express what cannot and is not said in the mainstream. Expressing what it means to have the influence of another culture in your life, to be an outsider, to have more than one ‘home’ and find unique ways to ‘fit in’ to another culture. These are important themes familiar to many black people, and this workshop provides a space to explore them in the work of UK based black poets.
The participants will then work as a group to create a short piece of poetry and perform it. This event is free but booking is essential.
Idea Store Chrisp Street

Weaving Stories
Saturday 19 October, 12:00 - 3:00pm
An exhibition of the extraordinary. The Caribbean islands are renowned for their woven baskets. Found all over the islands, they represent the Caribbean craft’s long history of communal making and shared skills, with some being decorated with sewing stitches such as French knots and satin stitch. Beginning with an introduction to the history of Caribbean weaving, in this practical workshop, individuals will produce new cloth samples which explore the theme of migration or cultural identity through the exchange of textile skills and materials inspired by Caribbean weaving.
Participants should bring to the workshop discarded clothing to be cut up into strips. Using small bespoke looms, you will weave these strips into new cloth which can be pieced together to form a new fabric. Participants will be encouraged to inter-mix their strips of fabric together and share with each other, so the new fabric being created will signify the formation of new friendships and communities. Participants will create six or eight woven samples of new fabric which will later be displayed at the Idea Store. This event is suitable for adults and no textile skills are necessary. It’s free but booking is required.
Idea Store Canary Wharf

Tracing Black Ancestry: Secrets of the 1817 Slave Registers Uncovered
Saturday 19 October, 2:00 - 4:00pm
Trailblazing author and family historian Paul Crooks was told that it would be impossible to trace records of slave-ownership let alone his African ancestors enslaved on plantations in Jamaica. “No one had tried because such records did not exist.” In the 1990s, undeterred, he embarked on a journey of discovery that led from suburban North London to Jamaica and ultimately back to the Gold Coast of Africa; an effort that has brought him international recognition for his breakthroughs in African Caribbean genealogy research
Come and find out about Paul’s journey, how he uncovered the potential of the Slave Registers for exploring Caribbean ancestry and tracing African roots. Also how he traced his African forebears enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, 200 years ago.
Idea Store Whitechapel

Social Gathering: Somali Women’s Health Social
Tuesday 22 October, 11:00am - 3:00pm
Somali women are invited to an informal social where you can find out about various health and wellbeing opportunities in the borough of Tower Hamlets, offered by Idea Store learning.
You can access an array of employment and training advice as well as tailored course options to support any healthy living goals you have!
Idea Store Whitechapel

Malorie Blackman: Noughts and Crosses Craft Event [Ages 5+]
Thursday 24 October 2:30 - 3:30pm
Read from Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and make a drawing based on scenes from the book.
Cubitt Town Library

Somali History Lab: Somali Protest in the East End
Thursday 24 October, 4:00 - 6:00pm
NUMBI Arts exploring the unique library materials chronicling the history of Somali protest in the East End. Families will have a chance to create postcard art reflecting on protest.
Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Make a Civil Rights Collage for Black History Month
Saturday 26 October 2:30 – 3:30pm
Learn about famous black historical figures and make a collage for Black History Month.
Cubitt Town Library

Workshop: A Taste of West African and Jamaican Traditional Cuisine
Thursday 31 October, 1:00 - 3:00pm
Food plays a massive role in black cultural identity and maintaining cultural connections within diasporic communities. In this practical workshop we will cook sample dishes from West Africa and Jamaica.
West African dish: Akara with a dipping sauce
Jamaican dish: Saltfish fritter with a dipping sauce
Booking is required
Shadwell Centre