Oldham Council celebrates Black History Month | Oldham Council
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Cheryl Martin
Cheryl Martin
Published: Wednesday, 30th September 2020

Oldham Council is set to celebrate October’s Black History Month with a number of online events and content for residents to get involved in.

Despite the difficult Coronavirus-related restrictions currently in place both locally and nationally Oldham Libraries and Gallery Oldham are ensuring we mark this important month properly.

Councillor Arooj Shah, Oldham Council Deputy Leader, said: “It is really important that we mark Black History Month, and this year there is even more of an emphasis on the month due to the raised profile of racism and black history in the media.

“Oldham’s history is intimately linked to Black and Asian history here and elsewhere, from slavery at the heart of the cotton industry that made Oldham’s name, to the present day where Black and Asian communities contribute so much to making Oldham a great place to live. Understanding, learning from and celebrating our history and people is key to building a stronger, more united society.   

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the libraries and Gallery Oldham have to offer during October to acknowledge this special month and I urge residents of Oldham and beyond to do the same.”

Oldham Libraries plan to host two Facebook Live events with singer, poet, director, writer and performer, Cheryl Martin.

One is specifically for adults on Wednesday 14 October at 7pm called ‘When I Think of Home’. This performance will see Cheryl looking back in wonder at what her parents – two young black people facing segregated, unequal America – managed to create for their children. Cheryl takes us back there, with song, memory and humour, making that time in her young parents’ lives real. 

The second performance, ‘Celeste’s Sparkly Cat’ on Saturday 17 October at 2pm, is aimed at families. This is about a young girl called Celeste whose mum wants her to stay home and follow the rules and a sparkly cat who has completely different ideas. It’s a magical adventure for all the family to enjoy.

Gallery Oldham’s ‘Rock Against Racism’ exhibition, which is currently on display at the Gallery, is an important photographic series that captures the movement which ran between 1976 and 1981 and confronted racism at a series of events across the UK.

For visitors who cannot physically attend the exhibition an online version has been made available on the Gallery Oldham website: www.galleryoldham.org.uk/exhibitions/syd-shelton-rock-against-racism/. They will also be sharing many of the images through their social media channels.

As 2020 sees the 50th anniversary of the end of the Biafran War in Nigeria, Gallery Oldham had scheduled a special exhibition, ‘The Legacies of Biafra’, curated by Louisa Egbunike and the Nigerian Art Society UK. Unfortunately, this exhibition has been postponed until next year. However, during October we will still be sharing some of the stories and art works from the exhibition.

A series of blogs will also be available on the Gallery Oldham website, focusing on some of the stories held within the collections of Oldham Local Studies & Archives. These include a focus on Ajit Medtia, an important figure in the Oldham Asian Business Association, who died tragically at the age of 39.

They will also be telling the story of the Oldham Anti-apartheid Group which held regular stalls in Oldham town centre, and whose members attended vigils and demonstrations in their campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.

Finally, special guest, Matt Dean will launch a planned new podcast that highlights the historic links between Oldham’s cotton mills and the plantations of the southern states of the USA.

Keep an eye out on the Oldham Libraries and Gallery Oldham social media channels for updates throughout the month.

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