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14 March 2017

Launching a new partnership with the Black Cultural Archives

King's History department has launched a partnership with the Black Cultural Archives (BCA), Britain's first national heritage centre.


King’s History department has launched a partnership with the Black Cultural Archives that will develop a new jointly-taught module.

The relationship was inaugurated with a public lecture by Paul Reid, the archives’ director, introduced by King’s Principal and President Professor Ed Byrne. The partnership will include a second year undergraduate module jointly by Dr Alana Harris and BCA staff.

25 years of the Black Cultural Archives

The Black Cultural Archives was founded in 1981 with a mission to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain. It opened the UK’s first dedicated Black Heritage Centre in Brixton, London in July 2014. BCA’s collection includes personal papers, the records of political and cultural organisations, photographs, and a small collection of objects. Since 2014 it has hosted a series of exhibitions on subjects which range from Black Georgians to Black sound from the early twentieth century to now.

At the opening lecture ‘The Black Cultural Archives: Towards a National Institution’, Paul Reid spoke about the moment in the early 1980s when the BCA was founded, and argued for the importance of long-term institution-building in the struggle to have Black history – and Black people – recognised as part of the national history of Britain. Professor Byrne linked the partnership to the aims expressed in King’s new strategic vision, particularly the aspiration for King’s to become London’s civic university with deep connections to the life of the city beyond academia.   

Black in the Union Jack, a new undergraduate module

The joint King’s-BCA module, ‘Black in the Union Jack’, will begin in September 2017, and will be partially be taught at the BCA in Brixton. Students will explore the experience of African and African-Caribbean communities in the UK, and will develop research projects with hands-on access to the resources in the BCA’s collections.

In addition, the BCA and King’s historians are working together on a school syllabus on African history, and will develop a series of events on the place of Black history in Britain’s national narratives over the coming year.

Click here to watch Paul Reid's lecture.