Manchester’s libraries are offering a wide range of free activities and events throughout October, in celebration of Black History Month.
Online talks from historians, writers and leading professionals, social media arts and crafts sessions and an interactive exhibition at Central Library will all be available, in a programme which seeks to educate, entertain and inspire, as part of Manchester City Council’s commitment to championing racial equality.
To kick off this month’s events in Manchester, renowned Manchester poet and writer Lemn Sissay MBE has offered his personal message in support of Black History Month, National Poetry Day and the city’s libraries. The video, which includes impassioned readings of his poems “Airmail to a Dictionary” and “The Customs Men” and can be viewed at www.facebook.com/manchesterlibraries.
Lemn, the current Chancellor of the University of Manchester, said: “Part of the reason I came to Manchester aged 17 was so that I could engage with the different cultures and diversity.
“Among the first places I got involved in were Manchester’s libraries. They were incredibly important in my development as an artist and writer.
“I came to Manchester with a fistful of poems and a birth certificate and I have achieved my dreams and am achieving them as we speak. And you can too.”
The poem ‘Airmail to a Dictionary’, which Lemn first performed at Moss Side Library, finishes with the lines: “Black is a word that I love to see / Yeah, black is that / Black is me”.
An exhibition focusing on the personal histories and stories of first, second and third generation African Caribbeans in Manchester will open at Manchester Central Library’s Archives+ centre on Monday 5 October. A digital interactive display, Windrush Generations Manchester Voices highlights personal perspectives on struggles and achievements, art and activism and the history and legacy of immigration.
Throughout October, the regular online STEM Club, hosted each Saturday at https://www.facebook.com/manchesterlibraries, will be focused on the achievements of past and present Black innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Pioneers whose work will be explored in these interactive sessions include Maggie Aderin-Pocock, British Space Scientist and presenter of BBC’s The Sky at Night; Dr. Mark Richards, a developer of air pollution monitoring instruments; mathematician Katherine Johnson, unsung hero of NASA and the space race and Granville Wood, inventor and electrical engineer, who made key contributions to the development of the telephone.
A Black History Month Children’s Storytime will be held on Facebook on Saturday 10 October (2pm). Local author Jade Calder will read from her new children’s book ‘Mummy…What is Black Lives Matter’. Inspired by shared real life experiences of the Black Lives Matter protests with her young daughter, Jade’s book addresses the subject of racism and protest for families to read together in a positive light.
A series of Career Conversations for Young People will run this month, offering advice for aspiring writers, teachers and barristers, with the opportunity to ask your own questions of the experts. Sessions are free and places can be booked via Eventbrite.
* Find out how to become a Writer, with Jade Calder (Tuesday 13 October (6:30-7:30pm)
* Find out what inspired primary school teacher Jamal Thomas to go into the profession. the steps he took early on in his education and what he loves most about teaching. (Thursday 15th October, 6:30-7:30pm)
* Sally Penni, a barrister, social entrepreneur, and author, shares her experiences with those interested in pursuing a career in law (Thursday 29th October, 6:30-7:30pm)
Author and family historian Paul Crooks will lead two online events, exploring how he traced his Black Caribbean ancestors, who were enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, 200 years ago. In these masterclasses, Paul explains he traced his roots and his family’s migration through the generations, to Windrush (Monday 19th October, 5:30-6:30pm) and how he used the Passenger lists to shed new light on the history of his octogenarian father – a Windrush generationer (Tuesday 20th October, 5:30-6:30pm). Places for the free talks can be booked in advance via Eventbrite.
Family craft sessions, led by local artist Simone, will be held on the Manchester Libraries Facebook page. On Monday 26 October (2pm), Simone will help you create your own Fantasy Landscape masterpiece and on Wednesday 28 October (2pm) make a snazzy bookmark, to help you get down to some serious reading.
“We Are Manchester”, a new collection of specially commissioned video performances from local Black poets and spoken word artists, will be broadcast on Manchester Libraries’ social media platforms and screened in libraries across Manchester. Artists include Peter Kalu, Shirley May, Mandla Rae and Recce Williams.
And a collection of new and classic books and e-books is available to borrow from Manchester’s extensive libraries catalogue.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “We are proud to support Black History Month every October and although this year, we are sadly unable to bring people together through face-to-face events in our libraries, that has made us all the more determined to go the extra mile and put together a great programme of free online events for people of all ages.
“Throughout the month, there will be opportunities to learn more about Black history and, for those Mancunians who are looking to launch new careers, the chance to hear from professionals with fantastic skills and experience to impart.”
To find out more about the programme of events, go to https://manclibraries.blog.