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Untold Stories: A Celebration of Black People in Kent

From 5th October to 2nd December 2018, The Historic Dockyard Chatham is proud to be working in partnership with the Medway African and Caribbean Association (MACA) and the Black History Live project team to present our latest temporary exhibition – Untold Stories: A Celebration of Black People in Kent.

Funded through the National Lottery and showcasing in No.1 Smithery, Untold Stories seeks to tell the story of African and Caribbean people across Kent and Medway in the 19th and 20th Century. The temporary exhibition 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 exhibition will look at 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).

Working in partnership, The Historic Dockyard Chatham and MACA have worked together for several years on the Command of the Oceans project to explore the presence of Black people in The Dockyard during the 19th Century. Thanks to National Lottery players, Untold Stories builds on those stories found and the Chair of MACA, Carol Stewart is delighted to be continuing this work with the latest exhibition for The Dockyard.

“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.” – Carol Stewart, Chair of Medway African and Caribbean Association.

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 of course 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.

The Untold Stories exhibition is part of a wider project being undertaken by MACA entitled Black History Live, which has received £67,700 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Michelle Roffe, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (South East England): “This exciting partnership project is helping a wide range of local people learn more about the under-represented histories of African and Caribbean people in Kent and Medway over 200 years. I’m delighted we have been able to support the Black History Live and their partners at the Historic Dockyard Chatham to explore these stories and share them more widely through this landmark exhibition.”

Untold Stories is included within the entry ticket to The Historic Dockyard Chatham and all tickets are valid for 12 months – don’t miss the chance to find out some of the Untold Stories during Black History month and beyond.

www.thedockyard.co.uk

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