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Introducing Jessica and Eric Huntley and Bogle-L’Ouverture Press

Friday 31 May 2019

5 - 6PM
Bookings at enquiries@timespan.org.uk | 01431821327

Brochure, for First International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books (1982).
Huntley Archives, London Metropolitan Archives. Reference LMA/4462/M/03/001.

Eric Huntley, Beverley Mason and Michael McMillan

Eric Huntley will introduce the founding of Bogle-L’Ouverture Press and give an insight into the hostile conditions of 1960s Britain which bred militant anti-racist community resistance of which he and his wife, Jessica, were at the heart of. Eric will speak about the importance of scholar-activism – connecting the struggle on the street with a strong foundation of knowledge, and how culture can be weaponised for progressive social change through the Huntley’s involvement with the Black Parent Movement, contributing to setting up the 1st International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books, publishing seminal radical Black texts, running the vibrant, inter-generational Walter Rodney Bookshop and their involvement with Internationalist anti-imperialist liberation grassroots campaigns. Eric will bring this history sharply to the present, not to dwell on a glorious past but to use this history to understand the struggles we face today.

Beverley Mason will introduce the work of the Friends of Huntley Archives at LMA Foundation (FHALMA), and speak about the value and urgency of unlocking and activating Black British archives to nurture the younger generation and connect their contemporary experience within the long tradition of anti-racist resistance. Beverley will discuss the power of Black-led community heritage projects in articulating Black histories written out of dominant historical narratives and she will describe FHALMA’s engagement strategies which keep the work of Jessica and Eric Huntley alive and relevant.

Michael McMillan co-curated FHALMA’s No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 2015-2016 art and archive exhibition, one of the most significant projects in exhibition history. Michael will speak about the importance of the struggle on the street to artistic production in this period, and how they were firmly and intimately connected.

Biographies

Eric Huntley, activist, publisher and author, was born in 1929 in British Guiana and emigrated to Britain in the late 1950s. Together with his wife, Jessica, the Huntleys not only participated in, but also led many significant grassroots campaigns, including becoming founder members of the Caribbean Education and Community Workers Association, the Black Parents Movement, the organisers of the 1981 Black People’s Day of Action march and the Supplementary School Movement, created to supplement the shortcomings of an education system that was failing Black children. Alongside New Beacon Books (founded in 1966) and Allison & Busby (founded in 1967), Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications (BLP) was one of the first black-owned independent publishing companies in the UK, founded as a direct response to the banning from Jamaica of historian and scholar Walter Rodney. Some years earlier, Eric and Jessica started their first bookshop in their front room in the late 1960s, before moving to commercial premises in 1968. After Rodney’s assassination, the Bogle-L’Ouverture bookshop was later renamed as the ‘Walter Rodney Bookshop’ and was already a place of importance for Britain’s Black community. Eric later described the bookshop as an ‘oasis in the desert of West London’. BLP’s first title, The Groundings with My Brothers, was financed by friends and community funding. In 1972, in a joint venture with Tanzania Publishing House, BLP went on also to become the original publisher of Rodney’s influential work How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Among other notable BLP titles Journey to an Illusion: The West Indian in Britain by Donald Hinds, and poetry collections by Valerie Bloom, Sam Greenlee, Lemn Sissay, Accabre Huntley, Lucinda Roy, Imruh Bakari and John Lyons. Seminal, academically important publications emerged including: Getting to Know Ourselves by Bernard and Phyllis Coard and Caribbean Workers’ Struggles by Richard Hart.

The Huntleys were involved in the launch of the first International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books in 1981, and the establishment of the Peter Moses School in Ealing. Eric has authored several books including Marcus Mosiah Garvey: A Biography, Two Lives: Florence Nightingale and MarySeacole and the Life and Times of Cheddi Jagan.

More recently, on the occasion of the Unveiling of the Nubian Jak Blue Plaque at 141 Coldershaw Road, (13th  October 2018), Eric published an abridged version of The Unfinished Journey to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the passing of his wife, Jessica.

 

Beverley Mason, born in the UK to immigrant St Lucian parents, is a writer, advisor, researcher and publisher, and a graduate from Warwick University. She gained several years of high-level corporate experience in media and publishing via The Washington Post’s magazine: Newsweek, and then with Time Inc. She then became the parent company’s (Time Warner) first Black executive director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, with leadership oversight on brands such as Time, Fortune and CNN. She was nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts in 2001 after serving on the Prince of WalesInternational Business Leaders Forum. She was appointed as CNBC’s programme director for European Business Leaders Awards, in partnership with the Financial Times and IMD (2004-2011). She has several years of consulting in the creative & cultural sectors: as cultural diversity strategist at Arts & Business (2002-05), where she co-founded GAIN, a partnership initiative to diversify the boards of the UK’s major arts and cultural organisations; later consulting on leadership and diversity for Arts Council England on the Inspire Fellowship programme; and the Cultural Leadership Programme as a programme partner for Powerbrokers. Beverley is a mentor for Common Purpose and the Museum Association, supporting museum professionals on their leadership journeys. She edited A War Veteran’s Journey to England From Castries, Cairo to Birmingham – a book published to coincide with a permanent exhibition in Birmingham Museum and Gallery, featuring Henry Joseph Mason’s war story and is currently working on a new volume.  She was the project manager of the No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 and continues to serve as FHALMA’s chief executive to support the Huntley’s legacy.

 

Michael McMillan is a London based writer, playwright, artist/curator, and scholar. His work as an artist/curator includes: The West Indian Front Room (2005-06), and recently, No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990 (2015-16), Rockers, Soulheads & Lovers: Sound Systems Back in Da Day (2015-16). His books include: The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (2009), and has the first Arts Doctorate from Middlesex University (2010). He is currently an Associate Lecturer in Cultural & Historical Studies, London College of Fashion, (University of the Arts London), and Research Associate, Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre (VIAD), University of Johannesburg.