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Family outside Hackney Town Hall

Black History Season

October 2015-January 2016

We're marking this year's Black History Month with 'African Threads - Hackney Style: 400 years of textile journeys from Africa to Hackney' an exhibition about Hackney's ties with Africa through fabric and fashion. As well as highlighting contributions made by the Black community, there will also be a wide range of events for children, schools and young people. All events are free but sometimes you may need to book in advance.

Events and exhibitions

Download the complete programme (PDF, 3MB)

African Threads Hackney Style

Thursday 1 October, 2015-Saturday 23 January 2016

400 years of textile journeys from Africa to Hackney. This exhibition explores Hackney's historic ties with Africa through fabric and fashion. Uncover their influence on the local area, from 17th century trade with West Africa by Hackney merchants to the presence of African communities and textiles in Hackney today. Discover how textiles were produced in different regions of Africa and the meaning behind some of their bold designs.

The exhibition features stunning costumes, photographs, local people's stories and work by world-renowned artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. 

Workshops for Hackney schools

Over 2,500 Hackney primary school children are booked to visit Hackney Museum during October and November. The pupils will go on a journey exploring Hackney's historic ties with Africa through fabric and fashion and how the textiles have influenced fashion, style and identity in Hackney today. Has your class missed out this year? Join our mailing list to be the first to find out about 2016's programme for schools.

Who were the slave owners of Hackney?

Thursday 1 October-Thursday 31 December

This exhibition explores a time when Hackney was a fashionable semi-rural area where both abolitionists and wealthy slave-owners lived side by side using local archives and the Encyclopaedia of British Slave-Ownership to discover Hackney's links to the global history of enslavement and its abolition.

Black Heroes - Write Me Down in History with Sandra Agard

Friday 2 October, 6.30pm-8.30pm, Dalston CLR James Library. No booking required

Choose a favourite black hero or heroine to write a poem, a short story, a letter, an email or a text message to in this creative workshop with a difference. Come along and make your own history. 16 years+.

Christal cosmetics workshop

Tuesday 6 October, 6.30pm-8pm, Dalston CLR James Library. No booking required

Christal cosmetics is an up and coming specialist ethnic skincare company. Come to this workshop and find out about good skin care products which are appropriate for the needs of a black skin. 16 years+.

Rap and poetry workshop

Thursday 8 October, 4pm-5.30pm, Shoreditch Library. No booking required 

Children will find out about the great African pastime of using language to pass on traditions and history from old to young. They will be able to create their own verses celebrating anything that makes them happy. 7-16 years.  

African arts workshop

Thursday 8 October, 4pm-5.30pm, Stoke Newington Library. No booking required

Children will enjoy this crafty workshop using textiles and other art materials to explore African arts. 8-15 years.

Soco calypso event

Saturday 10 October, 3pm-6pm, Homerton Library. No booking required.

Come along to this BEMA Arts Ltd family celebration combining dance performance and tutorials. Listen to a professional calypso singer accompanied by an acoustic guitar. All ages welcome.

A Taste of Africa

Saturday 10 October, 2pm-4pm, Dalston CLR James Library. No booking required 

Children will listen to African Caribbean stories and songs and learn about African head wraps. 5 years+.

Abolitionists in Stoke Newington

Sunday 11 October, 10am-11.30am. All ages welcome 

Join us for a stroll down Stoke Newington Church Street focusing on the local abolitionist movement. Booking essential via

Melanin Monologues: A Black Perspective

Tuesday 13 October, 6pm-7.30pm, Hackney Central Library. No booking required 

Come along and listen to Natreema Adjaye read from her book Melanin Monologues: A Black British Perspective. This book documents the journey of a black woman's struggle to regain her self-esteem and cultural position. 16 years+. 

Black People and Management

Thursday 15 October, 6pm-7.30pm, Hackney Central Library. No booking required

Join us and listen to Dr. Morgan Dalphinis talk about his book Black People and Management. His book is highly insightful and enlightening and is recommended for both managers and aspiring managers alike. 16 years+.

Stories and songs from the Caribbean

Friday 16 October, 4pm-5.30pm, Clapton Library. No booking required

Children will love to listen to stories and songs from the Caribbean and make their own Anansi spider to take home with them. 5 years+.

Elmer the Elephant story time and craft session

Thursday 22 October, 11am-12pm, Dalston CLR James Library. No booking required

Children will love listening to the story of Elmer the Elephant and help to create an Elmer collage to be displayed in the children's library. Under 5s.

Book launch - Unshatter Me by Michelle Lowe

Thursday 22 October, 6pm-7pm, Hackney Central Library. No booking required

Michelle Diana Lowe, will talk about her journey to the publication of her debut novel, 'Unshatter Me'. This is a unique fiction book targeted at the Young Adult audience. Join Michelle as she reads selected excerpts from her novel and takes a deeper look at Britain's multicultural teenage population. Exploring teen issues, minority ethnic experiences and interracial relationships, Michelle's novel gives a much needed platform for the urban youth of today.

Discussing the UK book market, Michelle will also share her views about the lack of ethnic voices and minority experiences in young adult British literature. There will be a chance at the end to ask Michelle questions. 16 years+.

Adoption information event

Thursday 22 October, 6pm-8pm, Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street E8 1EJ

Every child deserves a loving home. Adoption North London, a consortium of six local authorities, urgently needs adopters for older children, siblings and young people with complex needs. Find out more at our information session. 

Book now


Hackney's Hidden Enslavement Stories

Thursday 22 October, 6.15pm-7pm, Hackney Archives. Limited spaces, booking essential 

Discover Hackney's links to the global history of enslavement and its abolition in this interactive sessionAll ages welcome.

Book now 


Drumming and Storytelling Delight!

Saturday 24 October, 2pm-3pm, Shoreditch Library. No booking required 

A fun African drum workshop followed by stories. Children can make some noise too. 4-8 years.

African mask making

Monday 26 October, and Tuesday 27 October 2pm-4pm, Homerton Library. No booking required 

Children can come along on the Monday and make a mask from papier-mâché and come back on Tuesday to decorate it and take home. 6-11 years.

African Threads - Hackney Style

Tuesday 27 October, 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm, Hackney Museum. No booking required

Create textile designs, patterns and prints with a professional textile artist. in British society. The Monologues present an account of what it means to be Black and British in a society where African identity has been defined from a Eurocentric standpoint. There will be time at the end to ask the author questions. All ages welcome.  

Travel around Africa Workshop with the Total Insight Theatre Company

Tuesday 27 October, 2.30pm-3.30pm, Dalston CLR James Library. Spaces are limited

Come along to a fun and interactive workshop which lets children travel on an imaginary journey around the continent. At the end of the workshop each child will receive a certificate and sticker rewards to serve as a visual reminder of their journey. Please book by contacting the library on 020 8356 3000. 6-10 years.

The Music of Words

Tuesday 27 October, 7pm-9pm, Shoreditch Library. No booking required

Join the House of AMAU to celebrate the music of words with readings from 'The Colour of War' accompanied by various musicians. Discover the experiences of African heritage military personnel and their families during the First World War. All ages welcome.

Music of African and Caribbean Memories

Wednesday 28 October, 11am - 1pm, Hackney Museum

Come and enjoy the music of African and Caribbean roots from the past 50 years presented by The Spitz Trust. Song-sheets and percussion will be provided and participation is encouraged! The Spitz Charitable Trust brings music workshops to older people in care homes and links them with young people to reduce isolation, improve well-being and create a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved. All ages welcome.

A children's afternoon of stories and play

Wednesday 28 October, 2pm-4pm, Hackney Central Library. No booking required 

Children will have a lot of fun playing dominoes and doing word searches. They can also enter our Mary Seacole colouring competition. 5-11 years.

Hackney Fashion

Wednesday 28 October, 2pm-4pm, Hackney Museum. No booking required

Design fabulous fabrics and fashions inspired by Hackney and Africa. All ages welcome.

Black Voices - famous speeches of black icons with Sandra Agard

Wednesday 28 October, 6.30pm-8.30pm, Dalston CLR James Library. No booking required

This workshop will examine a number of key speeches by Black Icons like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Amy Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Claudia Jones, Walter Rodney, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. What do these key speeches tell us about the world and the human spirit? Please feel free to bring along your favourite speech by a black icon. 14 years+.

African badge making

Thursday 29 October, 2pm-3pm, Stamford Hill Library. No booking required

Come along and make some African badges which your child will be able to take home with them. All ages welcome.

The Textile Trade

Thursday 29 October, 6.30pm, Hackney Museum. Limited spaces. Booking essential

Discover how West African consumers shaped globalisation during the 18th century. An illustrated talk by researcher Kazuo Kobayashi. All ages welcome.

Book now


Universal Board Games

Friday 30 October, 2pm-4pm, Hackney Museum. No booking required

Play games from around the world in this Black History Season themed workshop with Universal Board Games. All ages welcome.

The Marvellous Mysteries of Hackney Museum at Night

Friday 30 October, 6pm, Hackney Museum. Limited spaces. Booking essential

An interactive and creative tour of Hackney Museum. Meet new people, learn about Hackney's rich history and explore its streets in new and unusual ways. Supported by Museums at Night Black History Month celebrates the contribution of African and Caribbean communities locally and across the globe. Please note that all events are subject to change. You are advised to contact the venue before you attend any event. All ages welcome.

Book now


Talk by Yinka Shonibare MBE

Thursday 5 November, 6.15pm, Hackney Museum. Limited spaces. Booking essential

Yinka Shonibare MBE's work examines the construction of identity and the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe. Join the British-Nigerian artist as he reflects on his work. All ages welcome.

Book now


Hackney's Hidden Enslavement Stories

Saturday 7 November, 2pm-2.45pm, Hackney Archives. Limited spaces. Booking essential

Discover Hackney's links to the global history of enslavement and its abolition in this interactive session. All ages welcome.

Book now


Anti-University Now! Festival

Friday 20-Sunday 22, November Venues across London

Join us in a collaborative experiment to revisit and reimagine the Anti-University in a weekend of events inspired by Black Power to feminism, dragons to antipsychiatry and many others. Get involved

The Life and Times of Joanna Vassa

Thursday 26 November 6pm-7.45pm. Hackney Archives. Limited spaces. Booking essential

A talk by Arthur Torrington, OBE, Secretary of The Equiano Society. Joanna Vassa was the only surviving child of the former enslaved African and anti-slavery campaigner Olaudah Equiano. In this talk discover how her grave was discovered in 2005 in Abney Park in Stoke Newington and learn about her father's relentless journey as an abolitionist. Book your place by emailing All ages welcome.

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Page updated: 29 Sep 2015 

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