As blue plaques are continuing to be put up in places of historic note serve as a permanent tribute to Britain’s notable men and women throughout the UK, one established organisation have joined forces with an equally established creative agency to pay likewise homage to distinguished figures of African and Caribbean dissent who have made an equally telling contribution to the United Kingdom.
Often ignored or discriminated against by the establishment during their lifetime, many historically significant individuals continue to be excluded posthumously – until now!
Community organisation Nubian Jak and creative agency Havas London has teamed up to create ‘The Black Plaque Project’: a new initiative which commemorates the rich and diverse contribution of Black people throughout history through a series of black plaques across London.
The Project sees specially designed black plaques temporarily installed on buildings across the capital to celebrate the lives of its notable Black residents — who, despite their achievements, continue to be officially overlooked.
Launched on the ITV London news programme, the first plaque to be installed recognising the contributions of musician Winifred Atwell – who, in 1954, became the first Black person to go to the top of the UK singles chart with ‘Let’s Have Another Party’ – her plaque going up in Brixton, where she lived throughout her early years.
Other plaques due to be acknowledged include: Len Dyke, Dudley Dryden and Tony Wade, the fathers of the Black hair care and beauty industry in the 1960s and among Britain’s first Black millionaires - their plaque to be installed at their first shop in Tottenham, and Afrobeat pioneer and political campaigner, Fela Kuti - his plaque to be installed in Greenwich, in south east London, where he studied at Trinity College of Music.
Selected in consultation with Dr Jak Beula, founder and CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust, permissions for 30 black plaques are being secured, with an interactive Black Plaques map at: www.blackplaqueproject.com
Dr Jak said: “There are nowhere near enough blue plaques celebrating Black achievement and history in Britain, so it is vital this project has a lasting legacy. Partnering with Havas on The Black Plaque Project helps us to raise awareness of this institutional discrimination and puts the pressure on those institutions — it shouldn’t just be us doing this.
“We must ensure these plaques commemorating our common cultural heritage keep going up and stay up — there are so many more stories that need to be told to celebrate our rich, diverse past and to inspire future generations”.
Havas London creative team, Sam Adio and Ken Abalos, said collectively: “We’re incredibly proud to see this project come together. Black history is British history; it’s the history of our city, our home and our community, and for too long it has been overlooked and ignored. This is our chance to shed light on this exclusion and discrimination, and to do something to end it.”
The Black Plaque Project also aims to raise money for Nubian Jak to help turn the temporary black plaques into permanent blue plaques.