The George Padmore Institute was one of four partner institutions that worked with the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) London agency in 2012 to create the Exploring Archives resource packs, which were supported with government funding. We have copies of the resource pack available for anyone wishing to teach students or learn about Black British history. See the end of this page for ways to obtain a pack for only the cost of post and packaging.
Written by research consultant Roshi Naidoo, the aim of these packs was to support learning, inspire creativity and celebrate identity and citizenship in schools. Consisting of a handbook and 30 colour image cards of archive items, the resource considers how archival items can be used to discuss citizenship, in particular the subjects of inequality, human rights and the legacies of colonialism. The resource pack shows how raw materials found in archives provide important historical context for contemporary debates on issues of national culture, identity, belonging, difference, politics and what it means to be a citizen.
The handbook outlines three themes, each includes descriptions of the individual archive items and how they relate to citizenship discussions. At the end of the handbook, there are five activities relating to the archive items as well as suggestions for debate.
Section 1 Why do People Protest?
This section considers why ordinary people who have faced injustice organise collectively to make themselves heard. The archive cards include a photo of the vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the anniversary of the New Cross Fire (1982); a poster publicising a ‘Massive Anti-Fascist Demonstration’ in Southall (1981); and a leaflet ‘Angela Davis on Trial’ (1970).
Section 2 The Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) (1966-1972)
This movement was a collective of writers, artists and performers who came together in Britain to explore the creative and intellectual complexities of their Caribbean heritage and to push back on the boundaries of European cultural domination. The movement outlines how the arts and politics converge. The archive items include: the cover of a newsletter (no.9, Jan-Mar 1969) published by CAM; photos of the founders of CAM: John La Rose, Andrew Salkey and Edward Kamau Brathwaite; and a poster by the Black Theatre Co-operative for Leonora’s Dance by Zindika.
Section 3 Information is power: The International Book Fair of Radical, Black and Third World Books (1982-1995)
The book fairs filled a void which existed for anyone who was interested in black writing from Britain and abroad; most bookshops had only a limited selection. The fairs also provided a vital space to engage in informed debate about cultural matters. The archive items include: a poster for the first International Book Fair in 1982; photo of the International Prose Reading in 1990, including Ben Okri, James Kelman and Kole Omotoso; letter from Bogle L’Ouverture Publications Ltd to Merlyn Rees, Home Secretary (1977).
At the end of the handbook, five learning activities are included.
1: Who makes history?
How have black and minority ethnic artists and writers have been represented in history over time?
2: Young, Gifted and British
What is Britishness? How have black artists influenced mainstream culture?
3: ‘Books are dead, long live the internet!’
How powerful is the written word? Do we still need books in the age of the internet?
Why do people protest? What different methods of protest do people and groups use? What role can the arts play in protest?
5: Protest Writing Frame
A writing exercise to describe an item from the archive and explain why it is a useful primary resource.
We've had a great response to this offer and our stock is running low! If you are interested in obtaining a pack, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and we will get back to you. Thanks very much!
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