brit ribbon cutRecently the sun shone on the site dedication to celebrate the redevelopment of Raleigh Hall, a Grade II listed building in the heart of Brixton, which will become the UK’s first national Black heritage Centre in 2014. In front of an enthusiastic and buoyant audience of over 250 visitors and participants, the dedication event provided an opportunity to thank long standing supporters, friends, trustees, and funders for their continued commitment and to welcome new constituents to support a project that will promote a greater understanding and enjoyment of Britain’s Black cultural heritage.

The beautiful weather surrounded the crowd, bringing warmth to Windrush Square – which was awash with colour and vibrancy thanks to the steel pan sounds of musician Kyron Akal, who lent a contemporary yet traditional ambience to the proceedings by combining today’s chart hits with conventional Caribbean pan arrangements. Reverend Anita Mckenzie gave a radiant and spiritual address that encapsulated our journey so far, and shared the vision propelling us forward to the centre’s opening in 2014. There were heartfelt and thought provoking dedications by Councillor Lorna Campbell, Chair Dawn Hill, Director Paul Reid, and Patron Colin Jackson who, during his dedication, publicly donated the last pair of running shoes he wore in international competition to the archive. Moments of uplifting celebration were provided by the clever, funny, and heart warming lyrics of poet Malika Booker. director reid

The ceremony closed with musical selections and audience participation led by the Morley College Gospel Choir, and recognition of the presence and endorsement of Dame Tessa Jowell MP and the musician Eddy Grant. However, the key moment during the festivities must be attributed to the ‘Ribbon Cutting Ceremony’, which included not one, but eight valiant stalwarts, who brought a sense of purpose to the ground breaking occasion and made the moment one for the history books. Ribbon cutters included the Leader of Lambeth Council Councillor Lib Peck, Colin Jackson, Dawn Hill, HLF representative Jane Stancliffe, Head of Active Communities for Lambeth Council Charlotte Evans, Dame Betty Asafu Adjaye, artist George ‘Fowokan’ Kelly, and Symeon Brown. The event culminated with invited guests and supporters enjoying refreshments on Coldharbour Lane courtesy of Pat Foster of the Satay Bar and Ord Henry of Market House. Future celebration events leading up to and including the completion of the Black heritage centre will include and embrace our wider community and general public.

 

Picture: Ribbon cutting. L-R Jane Stancliffe, Cllr Lib Peck, Dame Betty Asafu Adjaye, Symeon Brown, George 'Fowokan' Kelly, Colin Jackson CBE, Dawn Hill and Charlotte Evans. (Photo Credit: Isaac Akwue, aged 11)

 
(Rt) Black Heritage Centre Director Paul Reid (rt) with Patron Colin Jackson, former Sprint star

 

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