New BBC history show to explore the ‘First Black Brummies’
A new television programme exploring the history of Birmingham’s first Black residents will be screened in the city next month, ahead of being broadcast nationally in December.
Titled ‘The First Black Brummies’, the show looks at the evolution of the city’s Black population over the past 50 to 60 years; placing a spotlight on the lives of those who came from the Caribbean to live in Birmingham and how they now see the city as their home.
A part of the BBC’s diverse regional programming, the show is fronted by Birmingham poet Sue Brown, who journeys through the city meeting an array of individuals whose lives are woven into the fabric of the ‘second city’.
She highlights the difficulties Afro-Caribbean people faced when they first arrived in the city and how they have since accepted Birmingham as an extension of themselves.
A special preview screening is planned for Monday 12th November at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where guests will include Dr Robert Beckford, who has taken part in the filming of the programme and will be discussing it further as part of a live panel.
A Very British History: The First Black Brummies
When the first migrants from the Caribbean arrived in Birmingham in the post-war years, they might have expected a warm welcome from the Mother Country. Instead they encountered racism and discrimination at every turn – even in many of the city’s churches.
Birmingham born poet Sue Brown, whose parents came from Jamaica, meets some of the first generation – the “pioneers” who encountered unimaginable hardships but stayed on to make their lives in Birmingham. Many of them now proudly call themselves Brummies.
As part of the BBC Four series A Very British History, which explores key moments affecting minority communities across Britain,The First Black Brummies looks at the so called Windrush generation’s early years in Britain’s second city.
The evolution of Black Brummie identity
In this story about Black Britain and White Britain, Sue Brown explores the importance of identity within the community and looks at how music, hairstyles and the Black Church all helped people feel at home.
With academic and broadcaster, Robert Beckford, she also discusses the challenges people of her generation faced growing up during the seventies and eighties.
Sue also shares her own family’s tragic story. When her parents came to Britain in 1956, they left behind their two young children, Sue’s siblings, in Jamaica. They’d planned to return to the Caribbean after a few years but things changed and they stayed. Life was hard though and her parents could never afford to send for the children they’d left behind.
Despite the challenges though, Birmingham today is home to a strong and thriving Caribbean community, many of whom Sue meets in the programme:
“I am so thrilled to be part of The First Black Brummies programme and to highlight the Caribbean culture in Birmingham that I am so proud to be a part of. It was great to connect with everybody and talk about how the community has changed over the last 50 to 60 years.”
Following the preview screening, the BBC production will air nationally on BBC Four in the New Year; but regionally in December, on BBC One in the West Midlands.
Tickets for the Monday 12th November screening of ‘The First Black Brummies’ – taking place at the Birmingham Conservatoire – are available here.