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“Black History” Interruptions

Updated: May 7, 2022

“Black History” Interruptions! was a week long programme of events that took place in collaboration between Dr Javeria Kadijah Shah of the Learning Skills programme Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Dr Shona Hunter of the Centre for Race, Education, and Decoloniality, Leeds Beckett University in the Octobers of 2019 and 2020 on the event of Black History month in Britain.

The 'Interruptions!' idea was conceived by Javeria and the programmes were colocated with events running at both institutions in an effort to embed regional and institutional collaboration between the two Centres. They were designed to challenge ideas of segregated histories and the normalisation of the absence of Black History from the curriculum and British national consciousness. The events aimed to disrupt these concepts by offering platforms for a variety of ‘interruptions’.

In year one interruptions at Royal Central Learning and Skills Programme included workshops from Tribe Arts that examined decolonising theatre in practice; Dr Michael McMillan’s exploration of the ‘Front Room’ in the context of race, identity, and migration; and a panel on digital race activism and talks from critical race scholars such as Dr Nicola Rollock. From Leeds Beckett's end there was a conversation with the conceiver and presenter of the online show #Unspoken Black Safe Space and an exploration of the process and practice of improvised spoken word.

In year two the interruptions returned online only because of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

This year's 'interruptions' were in the form of an evening with Griot Chinyere Nwaubani leading one of their renowned African Storytelling Workshops for the Learning and Skills hosted event organised by Javeria.

The event hosted by Shona for the Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality was a showing of a screened recording of Speak Woman Speak's Soledad and Betto, followed by an artist discussion and Q&A with the collective founders Leah Francis and Carmen Martorell.

You can hear Javeria and Shona in conversation about Black History Interruptions! and their ongoing collaborations on Series 2 Episode 1 of the Discover Central podcast.

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