In 1977, Africa Liberation Day took place in Handsworth Park, Birmingham. Vanley Burke was there to document it. Now he meets four of the people he caught on camera.
All children of Windrush immigrants, they were the first generation to be born in this country or, if 'sent for', to grow up here. They share memories of that day in the park.
For some, it was a day of political awakening as they listened to the speakers from across Africa and the Caribbean. For others, a day out with friends. For all, they were facing hostilities their parents did not always understand or acknowledge. Just nine years after Enoch Powell's Rivers of Blood speech in the city and four years before the first of two major riots, this was the height of the SUS laws, as well as poor employment and housing. Educational expectations of the community were low and many were turning to the Rastafari movement for support.
Thought to be the biggest gathering of Black people in Britain at the time, there appear to be no records of it apart from these photographs.
Vanley Burke is one of our leading photographers. He has been documenting the people of Handsworth and Birmingham for nearly 50 years, ever since he arrived from Jamaica in 1965. His photographs are a unique record of everyday lives and troubled times. But for his pictures, the community tells him, they would not be able to tell their history to their children. He has been exhibited in major galleries across the world, but his exhibitions in local venues for local people are equally important to him.
With Vanley Burke, Norville Bynoe, Derek Douglas and sisters Rhonda and Louisa Nisbett.
Photographs copyright Vanley Burke
Sound Engineer: Tony Wass
Vanley Burke returns to his photograph of Handsworth's Africa Liberation Day 1977.