Members of Liverpool’s diverse communities came together to unveil a plaque in commemoration of Charles Wotten, a 24-year-old seafarer who was murdered by an angry white mob during the race riots of 1919. The plaque was the idea of Historian and Broadcaster David Olusoga who travelled to various parts of the world with plagues in memory of individuals and communities that played a significant role within British History. The unveiling of the plaques was featured in the BBC Series Black & British in which David Olusoga contends that historical events that have been left out of the dominant narrative or have been labelled ‘Black History’, are an important part of British History and an understanding of them is crucial to an understanding of the world today. The Great War to Race Riots archive was also featured in the programme which aired in November 2016.

This plaque was not the first commemoration to Charles Wotten in Liverpool. In 1974 members of the Liverpool 8 black community established a learning centre in his name but since its closer in in 1990’s Charles Wooten and the 1991 race have largely disappeared form the collective memory of the city. The TV series and its accompanying book Black & British and the Great War to Riots Archive will hopefully go so way to raising awareness of this period which has valuable lessons for today. 
BLACK POPPIES - Internationally renowned poet Levi Tafari is exploring the lives of men and their families stranded in Liverpool after WWI and responding creatively through story-telling and poetry workshops in Liverpool Central Library every Saturday throughout November.
All welcome to join the sessions, click here

Tuesday evening I went along to Writing on the Wall’s heritage project, From Great War to Race Riots. I didn’t know what to expect, it was my first time. The group, made up of community members and led by Tutors Madeline Heneghan and Emy Onuora, attended a weekly two-hour session, and had already started exploring the archives of letters and telegrams that date back to 1919. The project consists of an array of letters that reveals the horrific plight of black soldiers and seafarers, who had fought for Britain in the Great War, and who had now been told to leave these shores and my city. As the group worked tirelessly putting the documents into date order, it was evident that they had everything under control.

The Great War to Race Riots project featured in Made In Cardiff's 'Routes' series. Presenter Ndidi Spencer travels around the United Kingdom to discover the causes and effects of the 1919 race riots. Madeline Heneghan and the group discuss the project and the archive in Episode 2 (Part 2) and Episode 3 (Part 1). WATCH IT HERE.

At the beginning of this book, in the author’s note, he says that Black Poppies should not be read in isolation, so I started reading thinking I would have to refer to other books to understand it. As it happens I found the book quite able to stand alone and enjoyed it as such. Bourne has picked out individual stories in the First Part about soldiers in WW1. I found them quite fascinating, the more I read the more I wanted to read.
Did you know for instance that the first shot fired in WW1 was not in Europe or the Pacific but in Africa? The soldier was an African, Alhaji Grunshi of the Gold Coast Regiment. It was on 12th August 1914 in the German Colony of Togoland. The first shot on the Western Front was fired by a white soldier Edward Thomas of 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards on 22nd August 1914. This was of particular interest to my husband as his father was on the Western Front at this time. Grunshi survived the war and was awarded the Military Cross for his part.

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