2016 Community Organisation Award for Race, Religion & Faith
Opening its landmark building in Brixton over 30 years since its inception, Black Cultural Archives has become a national and international beacon for preserving and celebrating the stories of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. The grade II listed heritage centre provides public access to their archive collection, dedicated learning spaces and an exciting programme of exhibitions and events that explore British history from a unique perspective. The work at Black Cultural Archives recognises the importance of untold stories and providing a platform for enquiry and dialogue. Using their unique collection, they promote the teaching, learning and understanding of Black people’s contribution to this country. Black Cultural Archives’ mission is to enable the public to learn and connect with these hidden histories, creating an experience to uplift and inspire all.
We caught up with Miranda Brawn after The Black Cultural Archives won the Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith and Religion. Here’s what she had to say…
How did you feel about the other shortlisted nominees within your category?
It was such a humbling and delightful moment to win an award for the best Community Organisation for Race, Faith and Religion when you are up against such strong competition. The other shortlisted nominees were amazing. That said, we are all diversity winners at the end of the day – whether you have come to support or as a nominee.
After winning the award, where is Black Cultural Archives going to go from here, with regards to diversity?
There are lots of events and initiatives coming up especially during the UK’s Black History Month. That said, every day is Black History Month for us at the Black Cultural Archives. We are here to aid everyone in recognising what black people have contributed and are contributing to British society.
Some of our upcoming events relating to race diversity include our latest archive display entitled Rights of Passage: A Century of People Power which is on until 21 December 2016.This looks at narratives of resistance and change from 1900 to post-Brexit Britain. There are lots of initiatives for families such as the We Are Living Monuments installation honouring the likes of Mary Seacole, Sam King MBE and Len Garrison (our co-founder). There are also Black history courses throughout October. For more information visit, bcaheritage.org.uk or follow us on @bcaheritage.
I have been on the board of trustees as Vice Chair for two years now and proposed our diversity management strategy. This has led to us launching a series of annual events called “BCA in the City” to help increase race diversity within the Corporate sector while getting sponsorship from key organisations so we can continue with our work. The “Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation” has partnered with the Black Cultural Archives in 2016 to reward some of UK’s best BAME young diversity leaders with funding, work experience and mentoring to help our next generation become a future success in their careers. The race diversity scholarships will be awarded during the “Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture” which will include high profile diversity speakers such as our Patron Dame Jocelyn Barrow and Dame Fiona Woolf. Further information can be retrieved via http://bcaheritage.org.uk/black-cultural-archives-announces-the-miranda-brawn-diversity-leadership-scholarship/ or http://mirandabrawn.com/the-miranda-brawn-diversity-leadership-scholarship/ Follow us on Twitter @bcaheritage and @brawnm to see what we are up to on daily basis concerning diversity.
We have also launched “The 1000 Club” which is essentially a Black-pedia or directory of the UK’s most successful and influential Black people with an awards ceremony. In addition, the Black Cultural Archives work closely with schools across the country to deliver workshops from history, literacy to citizenship. This October, our team will be looking at democracy, voice and positive change in communities. There are a range of workshops available on our website www.bcaheritage.org.uk
Also, for those who may not be able to visit our heritage centre in London, we are offering a collection of online exhibition as part of the Google Cultural Institute. The first in the collection will be 200 Years of Black Britain and Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain. The online exhibition will launch in October 2016. The Black Cultural Archives will also be featuring in a BBC documentary in November 2016.
How is the work you are doing within all strands of diversity making a difference?
The Black Cultural Archives focuses on being a community organisation and prides itself in being the first dedicated national Black archives centre in the UK. It is important that the Black Cultural Archives continues to archive successes and allow future generations to have access to our legacy. We concentrate on archiving our legacy while providing a learning team, who put together exhibitions, work with schools and create learning programs.
Our unparalleled and growing archive collection offers insight into the history of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. The bulk of the collection is drawn from the twentieth century to the present day, while some materials date as far back as the second century. The collection includes personal papers, organisational records, rare books, ephemera, photographs, and a small object collection. On average 45,000 visitors visit the centre where we welcome everybody from all strands of diversity to join us and unfold these fascinating narratives together.
Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?
The aims of diversity, equality and inclusion are simple: to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and the same, fair treatment. Hence, everyone needs to highlight the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion because it is imperative to the successes of the workplace and our overall economy within the UK.
Who or what is the inspiration behind the amazing work that Black Cultural Archives do?
Black Cultural Archives was co-founded by Len Garrison over 30 years ago and is a national institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of diverse people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. Using our unique collection, we are promoting the teaching, learning and understanding of the African peoples’ contribution, which will enable the public to learn and connect with hidden histories, creating an experience to uplift and inspire. This is achieved through our exhibitions, public programmes and events. Our growing collection of original archives constitutes a permanent record of the richness of the Black experience in Britain which is accessible to all. Our work at Black Cultural Archives recognises the importance of untold stories and provides a platform to encourage enquiry and dialogue. We place people and their historical accounts at the heart of everything we do.
Our recent National Diversity Award win would not be possible without the fantastic staff at the Black Cultural Archives and our board of trustees. A full list of the team and board are attached via http://bcaheritage.org.uk/about/people/. As a community, we need to continue to push for relevance and positive Black images to help increase diversity.
What has the reaction from fellow employees and supporters been since winning the award?
The reactions from fellow employees, friends and supporters have been a mixture of happiness, pride and great positivity to help us to keep going for the next 30+ years. There have been several messages of congratulations which are helping to raise the awareness of the great work at the Black Cultural Archives, the National Diversity Awards and of course increasing diversity in the UK.
What were your thoughts on the awards? Did you enjoy the night?
The National Diversity Awards are a wonderful way to celebrate the hard work of those working tirelessly to increase diversity, equality and inclusion in the UK. I had a wonderful time and it was the best night of the year for me. Thank you very much for a fantastic evening!