Black History Month: Why behind “closed” doors?

TWO years ago, Black History Month in Thurrock was showcased in a blaze of publicity. In July 2008 there were huge celebrations down at the Port of Tilbury for the sixtieth anniversary for Windrush. There were also events at the Thameside Theatre and across the borough.

In 2010, there seems to have a palpable shift in how the month is celebrated.

Two weeks ago, TRUST ran an african night at the Thameside Theatre. It was by all accounts a very good night but a request to publicise the event was declined.

Last night (Friday) a council-sponsored Black History celebration was held at the Thameside. There appears to be no mention on the council website.

YourThurrock understands that no invitations were sent out to the Mayor’s office or the Portfolio Holder for Community and Culture, Lynn Worrall.

Only the schools and the Royal Opera House (RoH) seem to be keen to openly promote the idea of community cohesion. Gable Hall invited South African Siya Twani in for an inspirational talk while all the other schools that YourThurrock has visited in October has clear and confident messages about black history.

The RoH ran a series of workshops down at the Port with primary schools.

If there has been a retrenchment then it comes at a strange time. Thurrock was castigated by the Audit Commission last year for having one of the worst records for community cohesion in the country.

Have the powers-that-be decided that there is little they can do to stem the tide of cultural ghetto-isation that the Commission for Racial Equality boss Trevor Phillip has alluded to.

Maybe, but with all voluntary groups having to bid for services very soon, financial backers may not take kindly to any group that take taxpayers money but does not pro-actively disseminate to the taxpayer all that they do otherwise they may soon find that they are indeed……history.

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