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Stories of black people in Kent showcased at new exhibition

THE HISTORIC Dockyard Chatham in partnership with the Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) and the Black History Live project team are launching a new temporary exhibition to celebrate black people in Britain.

Untold Stories: A Celebration of Black People in Kent will seek to tell the story of African and Caribbean people across Kent and Medway in the 19th and 20th Century.

The temporary exhibition, which will run from tomorrow, October 5 until December 2 at No 1 Smithery, will share some of the fascinating stories of the life and contribution of black people who lived with the historic boundaries of Kent - celebrating the incredible, but relatively unknown, contributions to politics, armed forces, sports, religion, society and the arts.

This community led and created exhibition, draws on ideas, thoughts, and research from local groups and volunteers.

The chair of MACA, Carol Stewart, said: “We wanted to display these stories in a venue that will allow us to tell those stories in a space that would allow us to do so in a creative and engaging way. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be the first organisation to enable the first regional black history exhibition at the award-winning gallery.”

The stories of those who sought to make significant change such as William Cuffay (campaigner for political rights), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (a distinguished composer) and Sarah Forbes Bonnetta (Goddaughter of Queen Victoria) will all be showcased at the display.

The exhibition will not only be filled with fascinating stories, but it will also feature “The Front Room” set. The front room is part of the African and Caribbean culture as it was a special place in the house that took pride of place. Many families that arrived in England during the 19th and 20th Century had to share houses, and as such wanted to keep a special place to entertain friends and family. The game of dominoes, as well as others, were all a part of the experience, so there will be dominoes to play in the exhibition. Other interactive fun within the gallery is in the form of a giant crossword created by the students from Rochester Girls Grammar School.

The front room set will also act as a space for workshops throughout the run of the exhibition. There will be a range of workshops for the whole family, including talks about the front room, a presentation about slavery and the abolitionist movement, as well as an opportunity to meet and hear from descendants of local heroes.

“From the outset, we have been thrilled to be working alongside the Medway African Caribbean Association, firstly through our Command of the Oceans project and now with the creation of this exceptional temporary exhibition that really captures the often unheard stories of the black community within Kent. This exhibition promises to be an intriguing, interactive and vibrant experience for all those who visit,” Richard Holdsworth, preservation and education director of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust said.

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