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This is a good time to start blogging on the Bristol 2007 commeration. It is after Black History Month,  and coming to the end of the the 2007 year.  The Bristol 2007 site has languished for some time due to lack of inspiration and the headache of hosting a site.

Why today to start this? Because yesterday I attended a meeting in Bristol’s Malcolm X Centre which was looking to get views on the city’s report on it’s Abolition 200 year. The meeting was attended by many of the people involved in the year, but community representation was a little lacking.   There were many council folk and those (like myself) who had been somehow involved in, or worked on (had funding,  or  a job) based on activities in the year.

I was asked by Paul Stephenson, who chairs the Abolition 200 steering group amongst other things, to sit on a panel.  OK,  thought I, since I have been involved in one way or other with the activities associated with this commemoration, and had stuff to say.   Also on the panel, were Paul Stephenson, Councillors Peter Hammond & Shirley Marshall. It was ably chaired by BBC Radio Bristol’s Managing Editor, Tim Pemberton.

I automatically adopted a polemical position. Cynical and sligthly oppositional. But not totally. This was my automatic reflex. If the room was full of people who was saying the whole year was a waste of time. I would have been arguing why it wasn’t. But looking around and knowing that a lot might be left unsaid , I tripped into this stance.

Later, as bedtime drew near and the day’s replays go round your head in evening dream. I had a few points of regret about the way  I used the platform. Not to retract anything, but…

In my selfish ego-trip, which concentrated mainly on being oppositional and cynical, I neglected to acknowledge some of the partners that I have enjoyed working with this year, and what the hope might be for working them them in this-here future. I also omitted to rise up the role of African people taking ownership of our learning and history.

Some of those neglected partners are: British Empire and Commonwealth Museum & me deya artists, St Paul Study Centre and task group, Marvin Rees and the Consortium of Black Group, National Trust and the Bristol Black Archives Partnership.

My nocturnal meditation brought these people to be included in my mental, and after-the-fact, answer to a question posed by David John about things to celebrate from the year. Indeed my first thoughts are the discussions and debate that have ensued about Bristol and its role in the transatlantic slave trade has been enligtening for all.

I mentioned Operation Truth because I truly believe that the oppositional stance to the year of commemoration, that came right from the off, was essential to it seeing some of the deeper, sensitivity, balance and reality . It was the oppositional views that led to the establishing of Operation Truth 2007, which took a wholly opposing , Afrikan worldview and put it on the table.

But I also saw the role of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum as being of major significance to the wider education of Bristol.  There are still people who hate the name of this museum, but as a history of the Empire and Commonwealth, it’s probably rather fitting.  But their attitude in my mind has been about trying to reach as wide a possible audience and include voices from various communities. 

In about March, or was it April 2006, they held a debate where 500 people turned out to hear whether ‘Bristol should apologise for the slave trade?’ .  This was always going to get people’s goat, and it was a good provocative issue.  There is some of this at this link on the old Bristol 2007 site.

Well, listen to this for a while. And I’ll come back with more entries which summarise this year. There is too much for one single entry, and if I continue, this ‘essay’ will remain in draft form.

But the rest of my outline went like this:

john jogers , lisa blackwood, jacky davis, rachel, cathy waithe, derek sealey, madu & contributors…

Education: the community, so what project, nwanyi & the st pauls study centre,  

Afrikan education – john lynch, ligali

Affirm – voluntary sector, the system is still there that keeps us all down

political, and economic  

‘white’-folk (working class hurting too,)

‘black’ folk – outside, oppositional?

from black to Afrikan

and them some…


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