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Becoming Us: African Caribbean St Albans will explore the role of the African Caribbean community in St Albans and celebrate its multifaceted contributions to the city over the past 80 years. Co-curated by LeeAnna's Wish and Active Lifestyles, the exhibition aims to inspire the next generation and encourage people from different backgrounds to embrace a shared history.

The exhibition will focus on the period between 1948 – 1971 but will also refer to black St Albans' residents before this time while celebrating achievements up to the present day. The main themes include; Windrush and Arrival, Working lives, Overcoming Adversity, African Caribbean Culture, Commercial Music and Celebrating Achievements.

After the Empire Windrush arrived in 1948, its passengers dispersed across the UK. While no formal record of their destinations was made, thousands settled in Hertfordshire in towns including Watford, Hitchin, Stevenage, Letchworth and St Albans. Many worked in public services becoming the backbone of St Albans former mental health and learning disability hospitals, which were the largest long stay hospitals in Europe.

A range of immersive experiences will be offered including a reconstructed 1970s West Indian front room using original ornaments and furniture loaned from St Albans residents- visitors will be invited to sit on the room’s sofa and listen to a curated playlist while filling in their own family tree through specially created charts. There will also be family activities, talks and a special portrait wall with photography by Stephanie Belton.

A vibrant evening Community Ball will close the exhibition with live music, dancing and a delicious Caribbean buffet.

 

 

Community History events

An image of a bride and bridesmaid belonging to Shelley Hayles

To enable the museum to share the rich and diverse stories of local St Albans residents, a number of workshops are planned to collect stories,digital images, oral histories and objects for loan or donation, all helping to inform and shape the exhibition.