Black history month celebrated in Richmond

Richmond residents, organisations, and community leaders attended a celebration of Black history in Twickenham on Tuesday.

Healthwatch Richmond hosted guest speakers, musicians, and businesses from the borough in York House, Twickenham, in its Black history month event.

Mike Derry, Healthwatch Richmond’s chief officer, claimed the event was an ideal way to celebrate black history while addressing current community concerns.

He said: “Covid and lockdowns have been tough on many people in Richmond and have highlighted the impact that inequality has on our community and on peoples access to care, support, and services.

“We’re really pleased to be able to bring people together, to hear from people about their experiences over the past couple of years, their needs, and their hopes for the future so that we can help to ensure health services meet the needs of the whole community.

“Doing this through a celebration of Black culture, and the contribution that our diverse community makes to Richmond, seems like an entirely appropriate and enjoyable way to mark Black History Month in Richmond.”

The series of guest speeches was hosted by solicitor Maria Seale and included talks from the National Archives’ Kevin Searle, Public Health’s Dr Nike Arowobusoye and Damilola Gbadebo, and Africa Dyslexics United’s Sandra Vita.

Seale spoke of her search for previously erased local black history and the importance of discussing even dark subjects like slavery.

She said: “I have ancestors who were both enslaved people and owners of enslaved people.

“What I and many Black people want is an acknowledgement and recognition of the contribution our ancestors have made to the wealth and infrastructure of the UK.

“It is all our responsibilities to talk about the past and ask questions, uncomfortable as they may be, so that we can learn from it and teach our children that we are all mixed.”

Further performances from singer Layla Lay closed the event as attendees engaged in conversations with speakers and other guests.

Healthwatch Richmond has said it hopes to host similar events throughout the year following the success of this one.

Featured image Credit: Julie Renahan

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