Hackney's Black African and Caribbean history

Black History Month is a UK-wide annual celebration of the contribution that Black African and Caribbean communities have made both locallyand across the world.

This year we'll be celebrating the borough's internationally renowned music scene, with Roots, Rhythms & Records: The sounds and stories of African and Caribbean music in Hackney' at Hackney Museum. There'll also be film screenings, art workshops, discussions, live music and more.


Roots, Rhythms & Records: The sounds and stories of African and Caribbean music in Hackney

Hackney Museum, until 16 March 2019

From making beats in bedrooms, to performing on stage; enjoying sounds in shebeens, to looking sharp for the club, this exhibition explores the history of African and Caribbean music in Hackney.

Workshops for Hackney schools: Roots, Rhythms & Records

Throughout October and November

Over 2,000 local primary school children will visit the Roots, Rhythms & Records exhibition at Hackney Museum to explore the sounds and stories of African and Caribbean Hackney. Has your class missed out this year? Join Hackney Museum's mailing list to be the first to find museumbooking@hackney.gov.uk.

Roots, Rhythms and Rhymes: Hackney Black Women Writers Take The Mic

Thursday 18 October, 6-8pm, Hackney Museum

The first public showcase of work created in response to the Roots, Rhythms and Rhymes exhibition. Bring your own short written pieces to share on the night (max 5 mins).

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Celebrating Kayo Chingonyi's Kumukanda Poetry

Thursday 18 October, 7.30pm, Homerton Library, ages 11+

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, moving to the UK in 1993 at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015.

Under 5s storytime and songs

Thursday 18, 25 October, 11am - 12 noon, Dalston CLR James Library, under 5s

Mamma Tina will bring to life the folk songs and stories of Nigeria with interactive storytelling and song.

Diversity chain craft

Friday 19 October, 3 - 4pm, Stamford Hill Library, all ages

Make a chain of colourful dolls celebrating the diversity of the world.

Forward (the Marcia Barrett story) with Lloyd Bradley

Friday 19 October, 6 - 7.45pm, Dalston CLR James Library, ages 11+

Find out more about the life of Marcia Barrett, singer in Boney M, her life before the band. A candid, laugh out loud story of survival, triumph and indomitable spirit.

The House of Amau: the Afrikan Heritage Writers & Friends: Verbalising Hope, Despair & Everything

Saturday 20 October, 5 - 7.30pm, Homerton Library, ages 15+

Verbalising Hope, Despair & Everything with the Afrikan Heritage Writers and friends.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Saturday 20 October, 2 - 3.30pm, Shoreditch Library, ages 6-13

Express yourself through rhyme, rap or poetry.

Paint me a poem

Monday 22 October, 2 - 4pm, Hackney Central Library, ages 5+

Be inspired by works of art and poetry to paint your very own pictures.

Music making: make some noise

Tuesday 23 October, 11am - 12 noon, Hackney Central Library, under 5s

Music and fun for under 5s.

Under 5s storytime and make your own musical instrument

Tuesday 23 October, 11am-12 noon, Homerton Library, under 5s

Get musical and make your own musical instruments out of recycled materials.

Annual Autumn Holiday Course

23 - 25 October, William Patten Primary School

Celebrating Black History Season, the course will include African drumming an dancing, creative music making, instrumental groups, singing and sessions influenced by music of Black origin such as jazz. Contact Hackney Music Service for details and to apply: 020 3076 1534 or musicservice@learningtrust.co.uk.

Get Up, Stand Up: Sounds of Hackney

Wednesday 24 October, 1 - 2.30pm, Hackney Museum, all ages

Join Hackney Museum's resident artists from Advance UK for an afternoon of music, songs and art inspired by the Roots, Rhythms & Records exhibition. Advance UK supports adults with learning disabilities to explore identity and use the museum's collections about Black British history and heritage to create original artworks and music.

Carnival mask making

Wednesday 24 October, 2 - 4pm, Hackney Central Library, ages 5+

Design and wear your own carnival mask.

Voice of Africa

Thursday 25 October, 2 - 4pm, Dalston CLR James Library

Family event with Mama Tina featuring stories and songs from Nigeria.

Black British Pioneers: zine making workshop

Thursday 25 October, 2 - 4pm, Hackney Central Library, ages 8+

Learn about the pioneers of Black British history and make your own zine inspired by different stories.

Black Orpheus (PG)

Thursday 25 October, 5.30 - 7.30pm, Homerton Library, ages 13+

A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

Great Black History storytime

Thursday 26 October, 2pm - 4pm, Hackney Central Library, under 5s

Join Lydia to learn about Black History through stories and rhymes.

Xenia Women Black History Month celebration

Saturday 27 October, 10am - 1pm, Hackney Museum

Suitable for all women and children (childcare will be provided).

Join Xenia for a very special morning of exploring music, writing songs and sharing stories inspired by the 'Roots, Rhythms & Records' exhibition at Hackney Museum. Xenia brings migrant, refugee, asylum seeking and British women together for workshops that encourage English language practice and fun, meaningful two-way social integration.   

Black History Quiz Club

Saturday 27 October, 2 - 4pm, Hackney Central Library, ages 5+

Join in the fun and test your knowledge.

Blood Sister: The Q&A with Ruth Tross

Wednesday 31 October, 6 - 7.45pm, Dalston CLR James Library, ages 15+

Editor Ruth Tross talks through the novel 'Blood Sister' by Dreda Say Mitchell.

Black History Month book club

Throughout October, all libraries, ages 15+

Get involved in the big Hackney read and join the book club through October. Pick up a copy of Blood Sister by local author Dreda Say Mitchell and let us know your thoughs at @hackneylibs on Twitter or Facebook.

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Doing It For Ourselves: independent jazz history in Hackney

Thursday 1 November, 7 - 9pm, Hackney Archives, ages 13+

Explore Hackney's extraordinary Jazz history from Sun Ra's drummer Clifford Jarvis to the mighty Jazz Warriors - one of London's first all-black Jazz collectives. Learn how Hackney provided the seeds, and the spaces for musicians of African and Caribbean heritage to rise to the top of their profession through film, archive, audio and discussion. Guests include founding members of the Jazz Warriors, plus filmmakers Winstan Whitter and Anthony Collins who'll be showing an excerpt of their forthcoming documentary on Clifford Jarvis.

Call: 020 8356 6044; or email: archives@hackney.gov.uk.

Book now

Events at Hackney's Youth Hubs

Young Hackney will be marking Black History Season across the borough's youth hubs with a broad range of fun and informative activities, workshops, events and visits. Young Hackney events are for people under 19, or under 25 with additional needs

Black history music wall of fame

Throughout October, all hubs

Help create a collage of musical inspirations past, present and future to be displayed at all hubs.

Afrobeats nights

Throughout October, 6-8pm

Young Hackney Forest Road - 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 October, The Edge Youth Hub - 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 October.

Hang out and listen to Afrobeats, West African music that combines styles such as highlife and Fuji with American funk and jazz influences.

Music production sessions

Throughout October, 6-8pm

Young Hackney Forest Road - 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 October, The Edge Youth Hub - 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 October.

Want to produce your own music? Join these free sessions to learn how.

Reading corner

Throughout October, 2pm and 4.30pm

Every Tues at Guinness Estate Stamford Hill and every Weds at Young Hackney Forest Road, The Edge Youth Hub, Fellows Court Community Centre.

Delve into a new book that celebrates diversity and be inspired.

Black Superheroes

15 - 19 October, 4.30pm

Guinness Estate Stamford Hill - 18 October, Fellows Court Community Centre - 19 October.

From Wonder Woman to Mary Poppins, learn about inclusivity as well as female empowerment with this illustration workshop.

Britain on film

15 to 19 October, 6pm

Fellows Court Community Centre - 17 October.

A selection of films showcasing the black experience in Britain.

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Black history before slavery

22 October, 6.30pm, Young Hackney Forest Road

Watch a documentary uncovering the history of Africa before the slave trade including the ancient history of ancient kings and queens.

Music history walking tour

24 October, 12 noon, Young Hackney Forest Road

Walk around Hackney on a guided tour to find out about the spaces and places that have influenced Hackney's Black African and Caribbean music scene.

Re-educating black boys?

22 - 28 October

Guinness Estate Stamford Hill - Tues, The Edge Youth Hub - Weds, Young Hackney Forest Road - Thurs, Fellows Court Community Centre - Fri, Young Hackney Forest Road - 25 October, The Edge Youth Hub - 24 October, Fellows Court Community Centre - 26 October, Guinness Estate Stamford Hill - 23 October.

Resetting our mind from the 19th century to the present. Celebrating the unique and colourful history of educating black boys. This will explore future education models through presentations, discussion, literature, exhibition and a fun quiz.

My Art Beats pop-up exhibition

29 October - 4 November, 4.30pm, across all youth hubs

Highlighting young children's artwork with family activities including a film club and creative workshops.

Black African book day

22 - 28 October

Guinness Estate Stamford Hill - Thursday, The Edge Youth Hub - Friday, Young Hackney Forest Road - all days, Fellows Court Community Centre - all days, Young Hackney Forest Road - 26 October, The Edge Youth Hub - 26 October, Fellows Court Community Centre - 26 October, Guinness Estate Stamford Hill - 25 October.

Dress up as your favourite Black book hero or wear traditional clothing. Bring along your family and take part in book themed activities.

Is Black History Month still important for young people today?

22 - 28 October, 7pm, Young Hackney Forest Road

Discuss Black History Month and what it means to young people today with your peers.

Suggested listening

To coincide with Hackney Museum's Roots, Rhythms & Records exhibition, resident archivist, Etienne Joseph and head of Hackney Music Service, James Thomas, have pulled together some recommended listening from some of the borough's most inspirational musicians. Listen using the Spotify app and visit Hackney Museum to find out more about the history of Hackney's music scene.

Suggested reading

Throughout October each of Hackney's libraries will have a display of books by Black African and Caribbean writers as well as non fiction on Black British history and influential figures from across the globe.

  • The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon
  • The Emperor's Babe by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin


If you're a Hackney resident, you can now download thousands of audio and e-books for free, directly to your home devices. Why not read BBC TV historian David Olusoga's book Black and British, a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa?

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Hackney Museum

Hackney Museum creates a Black History exhibition every October, but works with schools and residents throughout the year to explore the borough's Black African and Caribbean History. 

Explore our Black British history timeline which focuses on people and events specifically linked to Hackney.

Hackney Libraries

Throughout October all 8 of Hackney's libraries host Black History book stalls, highlighting local Black authors and stories. More information about what's on at Hackney libraries.

Hackney Archives

Throughout the year Hackney Archives will delve into its collection to uncover the histories of the borough's African and Caribbean communities. Residents can also visit the Archives to find out about their own family history. 

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Page updated: 18/10/2018 10:25:48