More than one million black people from Africa, the Americas, and Europe were actively involved in the First World War. They fought and laboured in most of the major campaigns but particularly in Europe, Africa, and western Asia. This workshop will look at how their experiences can be followed through official and private records and how their contributions are remembered in Britain today.
The event will feature talks from historians of Black Britain, Stephen Bourne, Dr Caroline Bressey, John Siblon, and Anna Maguire, and social commentator and political activist Patrick Vernon.
There will also be the opportunity to find out more about conducting research in this area, learn about IWM’s collections and enjoy free refreshments.
2.00-3.30: Session 1
Introduction: Dr Caroline Bressey
Professor David Killingray, chair: Brief papers on the roles of black people in the First World War
Stephen Bourne, ‘Family, first-hand testimony and local publishing’
Dr Caroline Bressey, ‘Black Britons on both fronts’
Patrick Vernon, ‘Black Lives Matter: Invisibility of the black contribution to WW1 by the government as part of the 100th anniversary commemoration’
Anna Maguire, 'From the Islands of the Sea: Reading West Indian experience during the First World War'
John Siblon, 'Between hierarchy and memory: commemoration of African and Caribbean servicemen after the First World War’
3.30-4.00: Tea and coffee break
4.00-5.30: Session 2:
Opportunity to see IWM's collections, share current interests and individual experiences of research activities, methods, and presentation.
Stephen Bourne is a community historian and author of several books on the presence of black people in Britain; his most recent book is Black Poppies - Britain's Black Community & the Great War (The History Press), for which he received the 2015 Southwark Arts Forum Award for Literature.
Dr Caroline Bressey is a lecturer and researcher of the black presence in Victorian and Edwardian London based in the Department of Geography, University College London.
Professor David Killingray, School of Advanced Study, University of London, formerly taught at Goldsmiths, London, and has written several books and articles on the two world wars and also the black diaspora.
Anna Maguire is an AHRC Colloaborative Doctoral Award Student at IWM and King's College, London, who has recently completed her thesis: 'Colonial Cultures and Encounters during the First World War'
John Siblon is a history teacher and part-time PhD student researching commemoration of African and Caribbean servicemen at Birkbeck College London
Patrick Vernon OBE, is a Clore Fellow, Associate Fellow for the Department of History of Medicine at Warwick University; founder of Every Generation Media and 100 Great Black Britons, which develops education programmes, publications and films on cultural heritage and family history.
This event is being supported by the Centre for Hidden Histories, one of five World War One Engagement Centres, established by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to engage with and support communities as they seek to commemorate and reflect upon the century-long legacy of the First World War.