Rural life in wartime Britain movie clips often omit Black faces but this little girl was an exception. Archived footage shows the little Black girl, jolly as ever, being crowned Queen of the May alongside her colleagues beaming and wearing a beautiful dress as she is presented to the judges during the Spring Festival.
Who was she? Nobody knows. They only know it was in the tiny rural village of Stanion Northamptonshire and she wasn’t the only Black child captured on film.
Interestingly enough, the proceedings remain questionable because this was at a time when the British were attempting to popularise their image in the colonies in particular the Caribbean but, let’s face it, is this not the typical imagined image our parents and grandparents had in their heads when they initially set sail for England en masse in the late forties? Strolls in beautiful parks; punting on the Thames on a Sunday afternoon – I could go on. The well- read of those who came, knew the Jane Austin novels, they were familiar with English Literature and Tolystoy with a good ground knowledge of Latin. My own mother never fully recovered from her shock on arrival in 1956 but, like everyone else continued to make the best of her life here – and she loved it, eventually.
One can’t help wondering how many photos and films of Black children who were sent to live in the countryside for their safety during the war were captured in this period. We would love to know more about the lives of these people and more important, putting history aside for just a moment, is this not what we were promised when we were invited to come here?
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