Article: Chuka Umunna MP introduces Black Cultural Archives in the City

29 October 2015 | Miranda Brawn

2015 Diversity Event: Chuka Umunna MP introduces Black Cultural Archives in the City

Chuka Umunna MP gave a keynote speech as patron for Black Cultural Archives, the UK’s first national heritage centre dedicated to Black British history, on Wednesday 14 October at global legal firm Fasken Martineau LLP. Black Cultural Archives’ welcomed Chuka at the launch of their fundraising event, BCA in the City generously sponsored by Fasken.

Led by Black Cultural Archives’ Vice-Chair and diversity expert Miranda K. Brawn, Chuka Umunna MP introduced a panel of speakers including Imran Khan (international human rights and criminal lawyer, Imran Khan and Partners), Nicholas Cheffings (Chair of Hogan Lovells – leading law firm), Dawn Hill (Black Cultural Archives Chair) and Paul Reid (Black Cultural Archives Director). The panel discussion sought to unpack the challenges faced, and possible solutions, when addressing diversity and racial equality in the corporate sector.

Black Cultural Archives led the conversation promoting the importance and significance of Black history in this country, and why diversity and racial equality is fundamental to progression across all sectors and the bigger picture of social cohesion. Through their own archive collection, individuals and organisations are able to not only discover and learn more about the experiences of Black people in Britain dating back to 100AD, but also gain an appreciation of a shared history to develop a more inclusive vision for the future.

The heritage organisation’s bold mission to collect, preserve and celebrate Black history in Britain was established over 30 years ago. The new heritage centre located in heart of Brixton opened its doors last year in July 2014. The grade II listed Georgian building was transformed into a purpose-built heritage centre with facilities for public access, learning and exhibitions. The organisation has a national remit and its unparalleled and growing collection offers an insight into the history of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain.

“Britain is diverse and this diversity is a strength of British society. This statement defining national identity is proclaimed to people all around the world through the recognition of the contributions people of colour have made to the social, cultural, political and economic landscape of the United Kingdom.

This trajectory that Black Cultural Archives is concerned with is not only the one of people, dates and places, but a history that investigates the cause and effects that determine historic events and informs identity. At the launch of Black Cultural Archives in our new building on the 24 July 2014 we effectively opened a dialogue about the representations and expressions that determine Black cultural heritage, which includes embracing the intangible cultural heritage that is transmitted from generation to generation. This account of history respects cultural diversity and impacts on individuals, groups and the wider society.

This responsibility to facilitate conversations for the individual, community and across communities propels us to engage all sectors of British society. Here we champion the business case for diversity and contribute to Britain’s cultural heritage landscape. The time, the place and the people are in alignment to deliver our mission.”

Miranda K. Brawn, Black Cultural Archives Vice-Chair

“There are many great reasons why you should support this appeal. For example, it might be because you enjoy fascinating narratives, you appreciate the power of heritage to change lives or you want to be part of building a national Black institution as a lasting legacy.

Our view of history is one that influences our values, outlook and impacts on our responses to the challenges we face. Exploring the lessons from history is vital to the future of our communities and understanding contemporary Britain. Black Cultural Archives intends to release the power of history on a national scale. We are excited by the opportunity to reveal heritage that stretches over a thousand years and to bring our collections alive for all to learn and enjoy.” Paul Reid, Black Cultural Archives Director

“As a national heritage centre we will be able to extend our reach to new audiences each year. This visionary facility will inspire people to collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of people of the African Diaspora in Britain and make this available for all communities.

This appeal is being launched to establish a lasting legacy that will champion race diversity and social cohesion. Your contribution will perform a fundamental role in the development of this national heritage centre. Together, we can and will be transforming lives through heritage for generations to come.”
Dawn Hill, Black Cultural Archives Chairperson

Black Cultural Archives in the City takes place on Wednesday 14 October, 6.00pm – 9.00pm. This is fundraising event aims to raise awareness of diversity and racial equality, as well support for the Black Cultural Archives work.

For more information and event images please contact:


  • Black Cultural Archives is a national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. Founded in 1981, the Black Cultural Archives’ heritage centre is the first of its kind and our unique collection includes rare historical documents, photographs, ephemera, oral history testimonies and an eclectic range of objects dating from the second century to the present day.

  • Our work recognises the importance of broader historical narratives and promotes dialogue that encourages everyone to learn, explore and become inspired by a shared British history.

  • Black Cultural Archives’ new heritage centre opened in July 2014 in the heart of south London on the historic Windrush Square in Brixton, and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Borough of Lambeth.

  • The heritage sector has attracted over 30,000 visitors in its first year and display three main exhibitions including Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain, Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s – 1990s in partnership with V&A Museum and the recently opened Black Georgians: The Shock of the Familiar.

Note from Bill / OTC Space:

We are providing Miranda with the opportunity to promote this event on the site. Miranda may also contribute future writing to the site or Rocket magazine, either on diversity, or OTC derivatives law & regulation. Miranda's primary role is to manage legal risk across Europe for the derivatives, regulatory & securities financing business within an investment bank in the City of London.