Black History Month: Queen Nanny of the Maroons

Woman in a head wrap. The text included below the image is in the body of the post.

Queen Nanny of the Maroons is a legendary figure of resistance against slavery. Very little of her life was written down and recorded, but there is general agreement that she was born into the Asante people in Ghana, but then transported as a slace to Jamaica in the early 18th century. She became leader of the Windward Maroons – a band of escaped slaves – and her skills and abilities as a military leader against the British in the First Maroon War were undeniable. She specialised in guerilla warfare, and her influence was so strong that people assumed she had supernatural powers.

Nanny was the leader of Nanny Town, a Maroon stronghold kep secret from the British for years. When it was exposed, it withstood multiple attacks before falling.

Nanny was also well known for passing on Asante legends and customs to her people. Various records suggest that she was in her late 60s when she was doing all of this.

There is no contemporary portait of Queen Nanny of the Maroons: the image above is taken from the Jamaican $500 note.


Black History Month – Jay and Tri, CURLture

Jay and Tri, CURLture

Jay and Tri started blogging about how to care for and maintain natural hair in 2014. Since then, their platform has grown and broadened – their website, Youtube channel and Instagram cover black pop culture, beauty and lifestyle.

In 2017, Jay and Tri published KINK, a book of poetry and photography, celebrating black women and their relationships with natural hair, and also with self-acceptance.

Black History Month – Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones (2)

Born in Trinidad, Claudia Jones migrated to the US with her family as a child. She caught tuberculosis as a teenager, and had to manage her health in relation to the damage done to her heart and luncgs for the rest of her lufe.

Radicalised as a communist and a Black Nationalist, Jones was imprisoned several times, and then deported as an ‘enemy of the state’ in 1955. The British Colonial Governor of Trininadad and Tobago would not allow her entry: “She may prove troublesome,” so she moved to the UK.

Jones’ campaigning focused on what she called the “triple oppression” of class, race and gender faced by black working class women. She faced a lot of racism in British communist circles.

In 1958, Jones founded Britain’s first major black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette. It was anti-racist, anti-imperialist and Marxist.

After the 1958 race riots in Notting Hill, Jones suggested a Mardi Gras-style carnival to unite and celebrate the multiple cultures in the aresa. For this, she is known as the Mother of Notting Hill Carnival.

Jones is buried in Highgate cemetary, to the left of Karl Marx.

Black History Month – Shirley Thompson

Shirley Thompson

Shirley Thompson is a composer, artistic director, conductor, academic, violinist and film maker.

She was the first woman to compose and musically direct for a major drama series at the BBC. Since then, she became the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony in the past 40 years. The piece is an epic story of London’s 1000 year history, and included the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, two choirs, solo singers, a rapper and dhol drummers.

Thomson draws influences from hop hop, reggae, jazz and soul, and her pieces include Queen Nanny of the Maroons, which was the first opera to give a heroic role to a woman’s voice. Queen Nanny was a rebel slave leader in 18th Century Jamaica.

Black History Month – Hope Powell

Hope Powell

Hope Powell revolutionised women’s football in England.

Playing for Millwall Lionesses at 11, she joined the England team at 16, and was on the team for Englans’ts first World Cup appearance in 1995. She played for Engald 66 times.

At 31, Powell became the youngest coach of any English national football team, and the first woman, and the first person of colour to hold that office.

As coach, she didn’t just coach the seniors, she demanded a total overhaul of investment and support: she oversaw the structure from Under 15s to Under 23s, implemented central contracts so players can now train and play full time (instead of balancing football with another full-time job), and demanded high levels of medical expertise for her players – on par with that provided for men.

Powell is now Women’s First Team Manager of Brighton & Hove Albion.

Black History Month – Joy Gardner

Joy Gardner drawing

CONTENT WARNING: graphic description of racist state violence, police violence, assault, murder.

Joy Gardner was a mature student. She had come to the UK to visit her mother and had overstayed her six month visa. On  28th July 1993, an immigration officer and five police officers turned up on her doorstep. They sat on her body, bound her hands to her sides, and wound 13 feet of surgical tape around he hear, as her young son listened from the next room. She collapsed due to asphysxia and died 4 days later.

The police officers were charged with manslaughter, but acquitted after arguing that what they did was standard practice.

Joy’s mother, Myrna Simpson, and her son, Graeme Burke, have never stopped fighting for justice.

The annual United Friends and Families Campaign march is on 28th October 2017 – 12pm, Trafalgar Square.

Facebook event here:

Black History Month – Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Maggie Aderin Pocock

Space scientist & science educator

Aderin-Pocock was always committed to the stars, building her own telescope in her youh. After receiving her PhD in Mechanical Engineering and working for a while, she turned back to telescopes. She has worked on some massive astronomy engineering projects, like the Gemini telescope in Chile.

A space expert keen on democratising science, Aderin-Pocock visits schools inspiring kids, and now presents the long-running BBC astronomy show, The Sky at Night.