Black Poppies

by Stephen Bourne

Ref: 17090

A younger reader edition of Bourne's 2014, Black Poppies, described by Bernardine Evaristo as, "A powerful, revelatory counterbalance to the whitewashing of British history".

Bourne's memories of his 'adopted' Aunty Esther welcome the reader in to a far ranging and engaging account of the military and civilian lives of the Black community in the UK between 1914 and 1919. Alongside the appearance of better known figures such as Water Tull (first black officer in the British army; professional footballer), Dr Harold Moody (community leader) and Mabel Mercer (Staffordshire-born cabaret performer) are a constant stream of surprises, including Hiawatha and Alice Coleridge-Taylor (children of Samuel C-T) and William Robinson Clarke, the first black pilot to fly for Britain. Perhaps most enriching of all, however, is hearing about the lives of Black and mixed race people whose names we may never know, who worked in factories and hospitals and who served in the army, as soldiers, sailors and pilots.

Critically, Bourne details and exposes the anti-black 'race riots' post World War in British seaports as well as major cities throughout 1919, including South Wales, London's East End, Liverpool and Glasgow. He invokes this brutal past as it haunts contemporary Britain: "The tragic events of 1919 have been echoed time and time again in a country that has a reputation for taking pride in free speech and democracy". He goes on to draw a line from 1919 to the present, taking in the anti-Black race riots of 1948 Liverpool, the murder of Stephen Lawrence (1993) and the 2018 'Windrush Scandal'.

Bonuses include: superb archive photos- the shot of 'The Coloured Men's Institute outing from London's East End to Reigate', 1926 is a treat (the hats!); a First World War timeline; memorabilia such as music hall posters and medals; newspaper headers; previously unpublished wartime correspondence. Wonderfully collated non-fiction, perfect for the classroom. Age 8-12, Paperback 182pp



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