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Roots of Carnival celebrates London’s annual carnival held in Notting Hill – a perfect resource for Black History Month. It features a host of voices from those who attend the event and those who help organise it. Made in conjunction with the BFI Documentary Residential.

Roots Of Carnival

Zephaniah : Carnival is family.

 

Khirleasha :Fun. Freedom. Cultural.

 

Sherma: It's very exciting.

Carnival is part of the roots of Notting Hill. Carnival started because black people who came from Caribbean to Ladbroke Grove, and that is why Carnival happened in Notting Hill and not anywhere else. It goes all around Notting Hill, comes right back around in a circle, goes through Queensway, Bayswater and up to Kensal Rise.

 

Leslie: Where Carnival celebrates the freedom of the enslaved people - The African people remember the old African traditions and mixed with the French traditional costumery, or characters in the carnival, they express themselves, and after today, it's an expression of freedom.

 

Sherma: Merle Major is a woman that started Carnival in Ladbroke Grove, and she's also a political activist in the community.

 

Khirleasha : For Caribbean people, the police were very rough with us and the area was very rough in itself, rough in terms of housing. So the black people did not get any decent housing, although they were invited to come here to fill the labour market gap that was left after the war.

The reason it's important to tell Merle Major's story is because Merle Major had a duty of care to the community where young people really trusted her and they felt safe in her company.

She's like a leading figure within the Ladbroke Grove community. She was well respected in the black community.

 

Sherma: She wanted to give them that safe place that they could come to and tell her their problems, and she would help them with housing.

For anything that was difficult for them, she was there to help them. So when we had Carnival, Carnival was to help people to make something, be creative, do this, do that, everybody get involved. People started to hear about Carnival. Bigger, more bigger stars started to come over, you know, big bands, and it just got bigger and bigger. And, you know, nobody really wanted to go home. Nobody thought that even Carnival was going to turn out like this.

 

Khirleasha : Carnival is everything. We live for Carnival all year round. Even right now we're doing a countdown. We're like, "what are we gonna wear for Carnival?" It just means everything. It's like it just brings so much happiness.

 

Sherma: You wake up and you get this, you hear this music and you think, 'I'm sleeping', and then, "'what is that noise?" And then all of a sudden - you think, "it's Carnival!"

 

Zephaniah: It's just a big mood. That's all I can call it. Like, it's vibes. It's euphoric and you'll be family.

 

Sherma: It's made a lot of money. It's brought people together. The whole community comes out now. They sell their food and anything. Their culture is all involved. It's a really beautiful thing.

 

Khirleasha: To someone who had never been to Carnival before, I would say it's like a big party in the street.

 

Vaugnie: It's gonna be your best time. You're going to have the time for your life.

 

Khirleasha: It's like a big festival in the street.

My favourite thing about Notting Hill Carnival is just how different London looks when it's happening.

 

Corey: I'd say my favourite part about Carnival is the music and definitely the food.

 

Khirleasha: The way that, all of the streets get boarded up. The fact that the road just looks completely different because there's no cars, people are just walking in the road. It just feels so free.

 

Zephaniah: I've been to Carnival in London. I've been to Carnivals in Berlin, Germany, and also Trinidad.

 

Vaugnie: The Carnival is longer in Trinidad. And here (London) it's just two days.

 

Corey: I'm out with a with a friend from near where I live, but by the time I got there, you know, like you get five minutes in and you've lost them already.

 

Khirleasha: I fell asleep. I got so tired from the walk in with our mass band that we had like a bus. You know, sometimes there's like floats and buses. So we had a bus going behind us, and my parents just put me in the bus and I just fell asleep, and then I woke up and I couldn't see my parents and they were outside still walking, but I was like freaking out because I was like, "where's my mum, where's my dad?"

 

Zephaniah: The moment you turn left and turn your head, your best friend, your sister, your cousin, they are gone.

 

Khirleasha: It was funny because it's just like - the other thing I love about Carnival is it's just full of aunties and uncles. I feel like there's always people there that just want to look out for you.

Jubilee is festival of colour.

 

You need to make sure you cover your hair because everyone's throwing paint, powder, baby powder, flour. I love Panorama. I love to hear the Steelpans. I can sit there and just listen to it all day. There's all these different groups and they all battle it out. I just love it. I think it sounds so sweet. Like a pan beating. It's amazing. I love it.

 

Sherma: Caribbeans were like Trinidadians, so Trinidadians were into Calypso. I mean, we all know Jamaicans like reggae, but they also are involved in the carnival now as well. They have Soca. It spreads everywhere now.

For us, it's the masquerade and it's going with the floats, it is the dressing up, it's going in costume and parading for the day, you know what I mean? Like, that's unity.

 

Zephaniah: I want it to just remain wholesome and be what it is. You know what I mean? I want the message to always be there and just never leave. So it's carried on through my children's children's children's children, you know? I mean, everyone can have fun. You know what I mean? But go and experience the culture and see what it's actually about and you will have a better understanding of what Carnival is and what it stands for.

 

Khirleasha: That's it.

 

Zephaniah: Come on, man.

 

Sherma: Thank you. Thank you.

 

Roots of Carnival

Video length - 06.00
Published date - Oct 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS2)

Video length - 08.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 2
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS3)

Video length - 09.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 3
Downloadable resources

Black British Stories – Christina Shingler: In this short film Felix, aged 10, talks to his grandmother Christina (Tina) Shingler, a writer who decided to do something about the lack of black characters in British literature.

Felix interviews Tina to find out what life was like growing up as one of the only two black children at her school in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Tina was often teased and her ‘frizzy’ hair in particular, became a target. To deal with this, Christina lost herself in books and spent much of her time at Ripon library.

She always dreamed about was being a princess but she never found any princesses in books that looked like her. They all had “silky smooth, grade-A blonde, princess hair”; this was something that Christina could not identify with.

In 2004 Tina decided to do something about the imbalance of black characters in British literature and she wrote Princess Katrina and the Hair Charmer.

This film is from the series Black British Stories. A collection of short films for primary schools, exploring the experiences and contributions of people from communities across the UK, and celebrating the rich contribution of the black community to the culture, society and economy of the UK.

These short films are suitable for teaching history at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at 2nd Level in Scotland.

For teachers’ notes and more episodes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/class-clips-video/history-ks2-black-british-stories/z3w84xs

As this film is embedded you will not be able to download it.

The TrueTube and CTVC team made this film for BBC Teach, so for more resources go to BBC Teach: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach

The Black British Stories series was commissioned by BBC Teach and produced by CTVC/TrueTube.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

Black British Stories – Christina Shingler

Video length - 04.16
Published date - Oct 2021
Keystage(s) - 2

Centre Stage: Racism in the U.K. – This film discusses the existence of racism in the U.K. and demonstrates healthy conversation and good communication skills when discussing challenging topics.

Centre Stage: Racism in the U.K.

Video length - 03.46
Published date - Oct 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5
Downloadable resources

What Do You Mean I Can’t Change the World? – Jemmar tells the story of how she went from hating how she looked, to a realisation of the injustices that made her feel that way, to proud acceptance of herself as a beautiful, working class, black young woman. She is now an activist, working for social justice and inspiring other young people to campaign for the issues that affect their lives.

Told by Jemmar Samuels

Directed by Adam Tyler

Created in collaboration with the Advocacy Academy

CREDITS

Winner of the Content for Change category at the BAFTA Children’s Awards 2018.

…and Adam Tyler was also nominated in the Director category.

What Do You Mean I Can’t Change the World?

Video length - 10.54
Published date - Jan 2018
Keystage(s) - 4

Black To Yellow

Chris Lamontagne performs a poem in response to Charles Booth’s Map Descriptive of London Poverty 1889-1891. He examines how people are still stereotyped according to race and class and the inequalities of today’s society. This film was produced by Manifesta as part of their Breaking into the Museum project, with support from the Museum of London and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Black to Yellow

Video length - 03.11
Published date - Dec 2010
Keystage(s) - 4

The Brixton Riots

A reading of “Five Nights of Bleeding” by Linton Kwesi Johnson, with a visit to the scene of the 1981 Brixton Riots. This film was produced by Manifesta as part of their Breaking into the Museum project, with support from the Museum of London and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Brixton Riots

Video length - 02.45
Published date - Dec 2010
Keystage(s) - 4
Downloadable resources

Akala on Black History Month

Akala – rapper, poet and journalist – shares his views on Black History Month and the general attitude towards Black History.

Akala on Black History Month

Video length - 01.39
Published date - Jun 2008
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Don’t Forget The Past

Alex Pascal Obe argues that the UK must pay more attention to Black history. He refers to the 60th anniversary of the Windrush arriving in Britain – a ship which brought Jamaican immigrants to the UK. The anniversary happened in 2008.

Don’t Forget The Past

Video length - 01.41
Published date - Jun 2008
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources