Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Dartford Borough Council, supported by Arts Council England organised an extensive programme of events to celebrate Black History Month 2023. This included events in the Town Centre, Temple Hill and Ebbsfleet as well as a series of workshops in local schools.
On Monday October 9th a Civic event attended by Deputy Lieutenant Kelvin Holford, KCC Chairman Cllr Gary Cooke, Leader of Dartford Borough Council Jeremy Kite and Mayor of Dartford Cllr Rosanna Currans took place at the Crossways Community Church in Dartford.
Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL and Elliese Bramble from Cohesion Plus opened the event by welcoming those in attendance and talking about the importance of recognising the contribution of communities from Africa and the Caribbean throughout British history and not just since the end of the Second World War.
Entertainment was provided by Yohane-Liam Osafo, acclaimed contemporary violinist who played an arrangement of soft RnB songs and modern day pop songs at the beginning and ending of the event and wowed the audience with his skill.
Local community champion Garnet Johnson spoke about his family’s personal journey from the Caribbean to the UK and the many struggles they endured as well as their successes. He spoke about his connection to Dartford and the work he does with young people. Debo Brown the founder of Animation West Africa showcased the amazing work being done by the company and the rich stories and films to not only come out of Africa, but also being done in the UK by animators of African descent.
Donovan Blair spoke after about this family’s connection to Windrush and their life in the UK as well as his experience as a first generation British born Black man. He spoke passionately about the impact that racism had throughout his life and the way he overcame it to succeed professionally as well as raise a happy biracial family.
Community partners and caterers Dela Oresanwo and Rebecca Ajewole closed the evening by talking about their local micro businesses both of which were created in the middle of lockdown amidst personal loss. Both business owners provided authentic Afro Caribbean cuisine and desserts to happy attendees.
Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus and event organiser, “Black history is British history and until that message has been embedded in mainstream culture and the education system all year long rather than a dedicated month, we will continue to celebrate, highlight and showcase Black excellence during the month of October and beyond. We are incredibly pleased with what we were able to achieve with the celebrations, from the amazing line up of speakers and artists, to the enthusiastic and receptive audience and the wonderful Black owned local micro businesses that provided the catering and spoke about their journeys so far. Special thanks go to Dartford Borough Council for all their support for the series of Black History Month events we are delivering in the area throughout October.”