Matters of Fact
“Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do,” believed the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. “Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Every month should be Black History Month. But not every day can be National Windrush Day. To mark the 73rd anniversary of the Empire Windrush ship docking into Tilbury, bringing workers from Caribbean countries to help fill postwar British labour shortages, Black Heroes Foundation opened an exhibition in central London on 22 June. Chair of Trustees Joyce Fraser explains, “I set up Black Heroes Foundation in memory of my late husband. Recently, we entered a competition organised by Westminster City Council for a pop up in Piccadilly. We were one of 11 successful applicants out of a total of 120.”
The Foundation is a community based charity for the development and promotion of talent, together with cultural and artistic initiatives in the community. And as Joyce succinctly puts it, “A world where Black Heroes are acknowledged, respected and celebrated.” The Chair’s late husband, Peter Randolph Fraser, known to all as “Flip Fraser”, was the first Editor of The Voice newspaper and joint creator of the show Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame. The ground floor of the exhibition is devoted to the Windrush Collection and the Black Heroes Wall of Fame.
The Windrush Collection includes a living room, bedroom and kitchen furnished with typical West Indian items from family portraits to a porcelain book of the 23rd Psalm. A commemoration of Flip Fraser is joined on the Wall of Fame by inspirational people from the past and present: the Classic Collection, London’s Great Women of Colour and Wandsworth People. Take Harriet Tubman. She was a slave born in Maryland who fled to the free state of Pennsylvania in 1820 aged 29. She returned to Maryland over the next decade to rescue both family members and friends at great peril to her life. Harriet was buried with military honours in Fort Hill Cemetery New York in 1913. As African American civil rights activist Asa Philip Randolph observed, “Freedom is never given; it is won.”
“My heart will always be in Brixton,” Olive Morris, a heroine on the Wall of Fame, once said. Born in Jamaica in 1915, she came to the UK aged nine. Her first home was off Wandsworth Road and she went to Lavender Hill Girls’ School. As an adult living in Brixton, her activism took off. Olive was involved in many campaigns including the scrapping of Suspected Person Laws which permitted police to stop and search anyone suspected of loitering but was used indiscriminately against black people. She died in 1979.
A showcase of some of the dresses of the UK’s leading black fashion designer Mary Martin London is on display on the mezzanine level of this exhibition at 12 Waterloo Place. “I’m thrilled to have been asked to be part of this important event,” Mary confirmed. The designer is providing demonstrations each day on how her clothes are actually made: the sewing machine is clearly on overtime. Pointing to one of her pieces she exclaims, “It’s called the Death of a Queen as it nearly killed me making that dress!” Attendance has been lively. Westminster Councillors were at the opening and the flow has been constant ever since – the exhibition lasts five weeks. Heather Small, the Voice of M People, and soprano Nadine Benjamin are two of many well known supporters to enjoy it so far.
Councillor Matthew Green, Cabinet Member for Business, Licensing and Planning, pointing to Mary’s Marilyn Monroe Dress exclaimed, “A faux foxtail. Oh golly! Has somebody worn that? This is all so fantastic. I’m really pleased to see the whole exhibition too.” Councillor Louise Hyams, Deputy Cabinet Member for Communities and Regeneration, added, “I’m also really pleased to see the exhibition. It’s beautifully choreographed for the venue and so interesting. Mary’s show is great: she could easily harness her creativity into the world of film costumery.” No doubt Councillor Hyams would agree with Dr Mae Jemison, the first African American female astronaut, who believes, “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
24 replies on “Black Heroes Foundation + Mary Martin London”
A very worthy cause well supported
Great privilege to be invited to the opening and the exhibition is still on now.
You always deliver Enid to your words flow as you write with your fingers you are truly blessed you are a great journalist thank you very much Mary Martin London
Hi Mary! Thanks for your comments and we hope the exhibition is still going very well. It’s a privilege to have you on board and we are all so proud of your huge talent and commitment sista! Love you lots. XX
Thank you so much for attending, and for writing this wonderful article👌🏾
Hello Joyce! You are welcome – thanks so much for the invitation and best wishes going forward for the amazing and important work you are doing.
Whens it end?
27 July. LVB
Darlings this is such a great looking exhibition. I’m in Florence otherwise would be there !!! LL XXX
Good Afternoon Lady Lavinia! Hope you are enjoying the palazzo! Great exhibition indeed. LVB xo
Love it!!! Great photos of Joyce, Mary and Janice. Can see the family resemblance absolutely 😍🤩😌 X
Aha thanks Stephano! Great to have so many people along to see the show. Do call by. LVB X
Black Heroes Foundation is a fantastic organization. Great to see it supported and publicized.
Completely agree Chantelle proud to be associated with Black Heroes Foundation, Joyce is doing such a great job.
Mam nadzieję, że się ma pani dobrze! Gratulacje! Ola xx
Thanks Ola great to hear from you! Hope all is well in South Ken and Bibendum! LVB X
Was an absolute privilege not only to visit this exhibition but to finally meet the incredibly talented and truly beautiful Mary Martin 🌹
Glad you enjoyed The Big Meet! Mary rocks! X
Thank you so much Janis you’re not too bad yourself your mum is such a beautiful person and I really hope to meet the two of you again keep in touch my new found sisterx
Thank you Janice you’re not too bad yourself was a privilege and honour to meet you and your mother and I know now that you’ve both taking me on on as part of your family I really appreciate that that and hopefully will see you all again soon Mary Martin London
Great way to celebrate a very important exhibition…..
It really is a very important exhibition so good to be able to capture it in a feature.
Best wishes to Joyce fir her tremendous work 👍🏿👍🏿👍🏿👍🏿
Thanks Kiki it was a real privilege to meet Joyce and learn about her foundation.