I was both honoured and humbled to be at the opening of the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) yesterday.
It was a fantastic, celebratory day and I was immensely proud to be invited to speak at such a landmark occasion.
Yesterday we really were witnessing the realisation of a long held dream, and one of such profound cultural importance to all of us.
Our community in Lambeth would be so fundamentally different without the input of our diversity of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Now finally, at 1 Windrush Square, we have a way of recognising that.
The BCA is the first collection of archives dedicated to documenting Black people’s experiences of, and contributions to, the UK.
It’s amazing it’s taken so long for this to happen, but it’s such a privilege to have such an important resource here in Lambeth, and right on our doorstep in the heart of Brixton too.
It’s exciting for all of us that we now have a great new attraction, which will bring visitors into our borough from afar. As I said yesterday, I’m sure that within a matter of years the BCA will be ranking amongst our top museums and cultural centres in Britain.
And for local visitors and residents too, it’s fantastic that generations of Lambeth children will now have a resource from which to learn about Black culture and heritage, and I’m excited to see the kind of programmes that will develop with our local schools.
I think it’s also fair to say it has taken a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get here; there have many obstacles along the way. It really has been a labour of love for a number of very dedicated people over the last 20 years, and I made a point of thanking as many of them as I could yesterday.
But what a journey: from a small collection of archives housed in Coldharbour Lane, managed by a small but dedicated group of volunteers; the BCA now stands in its beautifully restored building, able to open its doors to the public for the first time, and hold exhibitions, talks and community events.
As a council, we’ve tried our best to support this project, and as I affirmed yesterday: as long as there’s a Lambeth Council there will be continued support for this fantastic project.