A Royal Visit to Black Cultural Archives
On Thursday 16th February 2017, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Black Cultural Archives. The Royal Highnesses were met by Ken Olisa, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, who presented a Guard of Honour comprised of army and air cadets. They were then greeted by a line-up of dignitaries.
The first stop on their tour of the heritage centre was at the bust of Len Garrison, where they were greeted by Marie and Tunde Garrison and sculptor of the bust George (Fowokan) Kelly. They proceeded into the gallery to see Rights of Passage, BCA's current display of archive material.
From there we moved upstairs into the state-of-the-art archive store, and then on to meet the Youth Forum and students from Holyhead School who shared how they work with and are inspired by BCA's collection.
The Learning Centre was the next stop, where the Royal Highnesses met a group of veterans that included elders who have seen active service for Britain. The Royal party had an opportunity to view BCA's Black History Timeline that scratches the surface of the two millennia of the African presence on these shores. Jak Beula presented his plans for a stone monument to mark African and Caribbean contributions to WWI and WWII to be located on Windrush Square. In addition to the veterans there were a range of people from the arts, heritage and activism spheres who have been on the journey to establish the BCA, including funders and corporate representatives.
From the Learning Centre we went up into the Reference Library where archive material was displayed and a video of Prince Charles' 12th July 1996 visit to Brixton, when Nelson Mandela came to the recreation centre, was shown.
The event culminated with a reception in BCA's Cafe which included an address from Dawn Hill, BCA's Chair, and the Royals signing our visitor book. After signing the book Prince Charles was moved to share a few words with those gathered and this moment was captured on video.
Watch the full speech below.
HRH Prince Charles praised the "remarkable contribution" of Black people and their families to society in the UK. Visiting a new Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, he said, "We are very lucky that you have made that contribution, particularly if I may say so, during the first and Second World War."
He went on, "At last, you have a centre such as this, which allows you to develop so many opportunities but also to bring the message to so many people in this country and elsewhere about the remarkable contribution made over so long, by people of African and Caribbean descent who have contributed so much to this country.