CEO of the BCA Arike Oke updates us on the purpose and poignance of the Black Cultural Archives. Following last year’s successful Windrush Exhibition and National Windrush Day celebrations on site, with a new injection of funds BCA are looking to the future. In 2020 they teamed up with the National Archives giving greater access to documents and issues concerning the Black diasporas. It is the only National Archive Centre devoted solely to people of African and Caribbean heritage in Britain, a much welcomed resource.
Black Cultural Archives, also known as the BCA is the home of Black British history. We collect, preserve and celebrate the stories of 2000 years of history of African and African Caribbean people in the UK. Telling the story of Britain’s shared history is our passion: by doing so we address omissions and erasures from mainstream history; challenge inequalities through an understanding of Britain’s shared past; strengthen communities and combat racism via new research.
From our headquarters at 1 Windrush Square in Brixton, we have a rich programme of events, and a schools programme. Our events programme includes: film screenings, in June 2019 we co-presented Hero: The Ulric Cross Story; ‘in conversation’ events including with Benjamin Zephaniah, and Jason Reynolds; literary launches; highlights of new research into Black British history; family events and more.
We use our national voice to raise awareness of issues affecting people of African and African Caribbean descent in the UK. Last year, we were able to offer advice surgeries for people affected by the Windrush Scandal and this year we have received additional funding to host advice sessions to enable people to access the Windrush Compensation scheme. History is not the past to us nor the communities we serve, it is the present.
Our research library is open to the public, as are our precious archive collections. With a series of exhibitions held in our gallery, and home-cooked food in our café, we are a home for culture in its many forms.
BCA is unique. We want everyone to be part of our story. We work with partners and volunteers to get the word out about Black British history and culture. The past is now, and the future is BCA.