The Black Cultural Archives (BCA) in Brixton, South London was established in 1981 by educationalist and historian Len Garrison to celebrate the contributions that black people have made to culture, society and heritage of the UK’s black history.
I visited the Black Cultural Archives on a Saturday afternoon as part of a staycation in my adopted city of London, UK.
Located near to Ritzy Cinema in Brixton the Black Cultural Archives is the UK’s first national black heritage centre.
Spread across two floors including the archives, visitors can explore a range of exhibits. These include documents from the Empire Windrush of 1948, one of the first large groups of post-war West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom, carrying 492 passengers from Jamaica to London.
Whilst the venue is small, the exhibits are well presented to document the Black Cultural Archives mission to record, preserve and celebrate history. I spent three hours browsing the exhibits, reading every single document that I could find. As a black woman born and raised in the UK, I felt it was essential to spend time learning about my own history and that of the generations before me.
I witnessed several families of all ethnicities that visited during my time at the Black Cultural Archives. One family in particular stood out to me as the mother sat with her son (aged around 6 years old) to explain why he should pay attention to learning more about who he is and where he has come from. This highlighted to me exactly why the Black Cultural Archives should have our support. The history and relevance in today’s society is not to be forgotten; it’s important that the story and influence of black history in the UK is shared time and again with the generations to follow.
The Black Cultural Archives has a growing collection of archives which is a permanent record of the black experience in Britain. If it’s not already on your radar then I highly recommend a visit to learn about a side of history that is rarely communicated in wider society. There’s also a shop and coffee shop on the premises.
The museum is currently free to visit and regularly holds events throughout the year.