Albert West: Gandhi’s Lincolnshire connection (Part 1)

Heather Hughes

 

This is the story of how a vegetarian printer from Louth in Lincolnshire played a central role in Mahatma Gandhi’s early experiments with passive resistance against colonial oppression.

Albert Henry West was born in the market town of Louth in the Lincolnshire Wolds in 1879, the fourth child of Frederick and Betsy West. Frederick’s family had long farmed the Lincolnshire fens, around the small settlement of Wrangle. Frederick  was born in 1837 and learned land surveying from his father (Albert’s grandfather) John, but did not stay on the land. Instead, he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law as a net and rope maker. A relative recalled of Frederick that ‘he was of medium stature and weight, very nimble and very neat in all his work and conduct.’ [i]

By the time of the 1881 census, Frederick was an independent rope maker in Louth and the family was living at 53 Aswell Lane in the town.[ii]   Caitlin Green tells us that Aswell Lane formed the upper section of what is now Aswell Street; in the 1880s, there were inns and factories along the Lane, suggesting a working-class neighbourhood.[iii]

The Louth Museum holds a fragment of Albert West’s autobiography, written when he was in his ninetieth year.[iv] He recorded in it that school was never to his liking and he had left as soon as he could. He worked for his father for a while, and then accepted a position as printer’s apprentice in the town. He also attended art classes and must often have visited his country relatives; he later recalled in a different memoir that ‘I loved to be on the farms when I was a lad, although I did not become a farm worker myself.’[v] His father’s letters to him many years later were filled with reminders of old country traditions.[vi]

Albert West as young man
Albert West as a young man. Courtesy Uma Mesthrie-Dhupelia

 

On completion of his apprenticeship, West spent eighteen months in Leicester, where he had been offered a job. Thereafter he moved to London, where he secured work as a printer for a shipping company. This enabled him to try life on board an ocean liner, which is how he came to arrive in South Africa.[vii]  The South African War (1899-1902) had brought the whole of South Africa into the British empire, leading to a huge influx of white settlers, most of whom were British.[viii] By now in his mid-20s, Albert West decided to try life in Johannesburg and with a business partner, set up a printing press. Although he found this brash new mining town distasteful, there were evidently some compensations, such as Ziegler’s vegetarian restaurant. It was there that he met Mohandas K. Gandhi, according to his memoir:

“Around a large table sat a mixed company of men comprising a stockbroker from the United States who operated on the Exchange in gold and diamond shares, an accountant from Natal, a machinery agent, a young Jewish member of the Theosophical Society, a working tailor from Russia, Gandhi the lawyer, and me a printer. Everybody in Johannesburg talked about the share market, but these men were food reformers interested in vegetarian diet, Kuhne baths, earth poultices, fasting, etc.” [ix]

Gandhi was born in India in 1869 and trained as a lawyer in London. He had arrived in the Colony of Natal in 1893 to assist a wealthy Durban merchant, Dada Abdulla, in a legal case. Since 1860, Britain had transported some 40,000 Indians to the colony under conditions of indenture – one of many

Indian fresh fruit and vegetable sellers in the town of Verulam
Indian market gardeners selling supplies in the Natal town of Verulam, early twentieth century.

such instances of moving unfree labour around the world to assist in the establishment of white settler economies.[x] In Natal, they were put to work on sugar, tea

and tobacco plantations, the railways and coal mines.[xi] On completion of their indenture, many had become successful small-scale fruit and vegetable producers, supplying Natal’s urban markets. Their relations with the African majority, as well as with white settlers, were fraught and complex. They had been brought to Natal precisely because white colonists had been unable to undermine Africans’ subsistence production, yet Indians’ agricultural success caused widespread resentment among many Africans.[xii]  So-called ‘passenger Indians’, like Dada Abdulla, who had travelled to Natal on their own account, similarly faced enormous hostility.

A young Mohandas Gandhi
Mohandas Gandhi at the time of his arrival in Durban. Durban Local History Museum.

Gandhi had not intended to stay long in Natal, but widespread anti-Indian sentiment, as well as his own experiences of racism, convinced him otherwise.[xiii]  In 1894, he helped to found the Natal Indian Congress, specifically to look after ‘passenger’ interests, although it also addressed the broader issue of rights for all Indians as British subjects in Natal.[xiv] Two years later, he fetched his wife Kasturba and their sons from India; their lives were threatened by a white mob on the dockside as they disembarked.[xv]

Undeterred, Gandhi set up a legal practice in Durban and over the next few years, in addition to his political work, he began to elaborate his philosophy of satyagraha, involving passive or nonviolent resistance to injustice. As a pacifist, he helped to organise a stretcher corps during the South African War.[xvi]  At the end of the conflict, with the Transvaal now under British imperial control, he moved to Johannesburg.

That is how Albert West and Gandhi came to meet. Several researchers have reminded us that vegetarianism was one practice within a wider progressive commitment to temperance, pacifism and often anti-colonialism.[xvii] Gandhi had long promoted vegetarianism and had had several articles published in The Vegetarian, published in London.[xviii] His and West’s common interests led to a firm friendship. They took frequent long walks together and joined mutual friends at out-of-town picnics, where spirituality and the meaning of life dominated conversation. As this description indicates, West had already been drawn to Gandhi’s politics:

“One evening I attended an Indian meeting addressed by him in the Indian Location, Johannesburg. Gandhi was the only speaker. The language was Hindi, which was understood by the large audience and listened to with rapt attention. The speaker stood erect and spoke quietly, without gesture or raising of the voice. As I looked upon that dark face in the dim light I felt that here was a leader of great power, but I could not foresee how great a national figure he was to become or how far and wide would be his influence throughout the world.”[xix]

An outbreak of pneumonic plague in Johannesburg in 1904 changed West’s life. Gandhi was closely involved in nursing the sick in the Indian Location, as was Viyavarik Madanjit, proprietor of Indian Opinion, the newspaper which Gandhi had recently founded in Durban. One of South Africa’s oldest anti-establishment newspapers, it has received the detailed attention it deserves in Isabel Hofmeyr’s fine study.[xx]  Madanjit was just visiting Johannesburg but Gandhi considered his presence vital in dealing with the epidemic.

Gandhi therefore asked Albert West to take over the management of Indian Opinion. West readily agreed, made the necessary arrangements for his business in Johannesburg and set off for Durban – and a central role in shaping the profile of one of the best-known figures of the twentieth century. Gandhi came to rely on West as a close and trusted supporter. In turn, through Gandhi, West was drawn into an international British-Indian network of leading anticolonial politicians, writers and philosophers.

Grey Street Durban early 20th century
Grey Street in the early twentieth century. Durban Local History Museum

Indian Opinion was printed weekly in four languages (English, Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil) on a press in the Grey Street area of Durban, where most Indian businesses were located. West was to preside over a small staff of compositors, machinists and printers from India, Mauritius, St Helena and Natal – as a port city, Durban was widely connected to the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds. He soon discovered that profits were non-existent and agreed to work for a modest salary. As with all the other costs of the paper, this was provided by Gandhi, who was also overall editor.

Shortly after West’s arrival in Durban in 1904, Gandhi paid a visit to assess the paper’s financial situation. Another close friend, Henry Polak (later an editor of Indian Opinion and attorney in Gandhi’s practice), gave him a copy of John Ruskin’s Unto This Last to read on the train. It consolidated Gandhi’s thinking that worldly goods were a distraction and that asceticism, abstinence and self-reliance should take their place.

Preparations were begun at once for the founding of his first ashram. Gandhi purchased twenty acres of land on a former farm called Phoenix, some 14 miles inland from Durban. Though very rural, this was an area that was already, in Hofmeyr’s evocative description, ‘a brave new world of evangelical experiment comprising proselytising Trappists, mid-Western protestants, Zulu internationalists, Bombay Muslim holy men and Punjabi Arya Samajists.’[xxi]

Madanjit and several Indian Opinion co-workers thought the entire notion foolhardy and left; others among Gandhi’s associates wanted nothing to do with it. So West and the few remainers oversaw the founding of this historic site, including the relocation of press equipment:

“Type and machinery being very heavy and the road rough, with three rivers to cross, over which there were no bridges, we engaged four large farm wagons, with spans of sixteen bullocks each, and by this means we managed to remove the whole of the plant and stock in a day. It took a good deal longer than that to get it all sorted out and put in place.” [xxii]

Printing press shed Phoenix
The shed housing the printing press in the early days of Phoenix Settlement. Courtesy Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie.

It was a matter of some pride to them all that there was no interruption in publication. The first edition of Indian Opinion to be produced at Phoenix rolled off the press on Christmas Eve, 1904.

The ashram regime was demanding. Each of the Phoenix settlers had a simple cottage and a plot of land on which to grow food; each was also granted a monthly allowance of £3. Everyone was expected to participate in production, both on the paper and on the land, as well as in the daily tasks of reproduction: cooking, cleaning and maintenance. All this was achieved without electricity and only the most basic of tools. Not only was this to be a model of ascetic, communal living – ‘midway between a village and a joint family’, as one writer put it [xxiii] – but it was also preparation for satyagraha and likely periods in gaol. Simplicity, service, reflection, prayer: these became hallmarks of the communal outlook. Gandhi’s family moved to a wood and iron cottage at Phoenix, while he continued to oscillate between his legal work in Johannesburg and the new settlement. This caused him much anxiety but without the former, the latter would have been unthinkable.

Residents were soon drawn into community and political action beyond their farm. In 1905, for example, Natal was struck by devastating floods;[xxiv] according to West’s account,

“A relief fund was at once started and a large sum raised. A committee was appointed to administer the funds and this sat weekly in the office of the Protector of Indian Immigrants. I was asked to join this committee and in the absence of Gandhi, I was glad to be able to assist in granting compensation to the poor Indians who had suffered so heavily in the death toll and so badly by the destruction of their market gardens.”[xxv]

Here then, on the south-eastern African coastal strip, a bold experiment in self-help and resistance against imperial injustice developed. Albert West, one of Gandhi’s earliest disciples, was central to its foundation and growth. Yet it was also an enclave located in, and focused almost entirely on, a South Asian world in South Africa. Apart from a few individual sympathisers who crossed boundaries (and as we shall see, West’s family were among them), there was simply no basis, and too much ‘othering’,  to make common cause with Africans at that time.

[Part 2 to follow]

*Thanks to Dr Victoria Araj for very helpful feedback and Prof. Uma Mesthrie-Dhupelia for support and permission to use family images.

[i] Information about the West family from https://www.matthew-west.org.uk/west-family-history/4-the-wests-of-wrangle and https://www.matthew-west.org.uk/west-family-history/1-elsoms-of-lincolnshire/2-the-wests-of-wrangle (accessed 8 April 2022)

[ii] 1881 Census entry for Frederick and Betsy West family, at  https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBC/1881/0014777516&expand=true (accessed 5 March 2022)

[iii] Caitlin Green, The Streets of Louth: An A-Z History. Louth, The Lindes Press, 2012, pp. 7-13.

[iv] Albert West, Autobiography of an Octogenarian. The Lifestory of One in his Ninetieth Year. Typescript fragment, PDF format. Thanks to Dr R Gatenby, Museum Archivist, for access to this source.

[v] Albert West, ‘In the early days with Gandhi’, at https://www.gandhiashramsevagram.org/gandhi-articles/in-the-early-days-with-gandhi.php (accessed 5 March 2022) This memoir was first published in The Illustrated Weekly of India in 1965.

[vi] See https://www.matthew-west.org.uk/west-family-history/4-the-wests-of-wrangle (accessed 8 April 2022)

[vii] Albert West, Autobiography of an Octogenarian.

[viii] This war, by far Britain’s most expensive and extensive imperial war of expansion, is more popularly known as the Anglo-Boer War, although this name excludes the countless black and brown people in the region who were caught up in it – from scouts and suppliers on both sides to those incarcerated in British concentration camps. See Peter Warwick, The South African War: Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902. London, Longman, 1980.

[ix] West, ‘In the early days with Gandhi’.

[x] Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, Inside Indenture: A South African Story, 1860-1914. Durban. Madiba Publishers, 2007.

[xi] Uma Mesthrie-Dhupelia, From Cane Fields to Freedom: A Chronicle of Indian South African Life. Cape Town, Kwela Books, 2000.

[xii] Heather Hughes, ‘We will be elbowed out the country’: African responses to Indian indentured immigration to Natal, 1860-1910. Labour History Review 72, 2, 2007, pp. 155-168.

[xiii] The best-known example, which was to be transformative for Gandhi, was being thrown out of the first class carriage at the Pietermaritzburg train station in 1893. M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography, pp. 93-4. In 1997, Nelson Mandela and Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Gandhi’s grandson and at the time India’s High Commissioner to South Africa, re-enacted the journey. Dhupelia-Mesthrie, From Cane Fields to Freedom.

[xiv] Surendra Bhana, Gandhi’s Legacy The Natal Indian Congress 1894-1994. Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1997.

[xv] Gandhi, An Autobiography, pp. 160-163.

[xvi] Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire. Redwood City, Stanford University Press, 2013. This work explores Gandhi’s complex relationship not only with British authority but also with the African majority in South Africa.

[xvii] Elsa Richardson, Cranks, clerks and suffragettes: the vegetarian restaurant in British culture and fiction 1880-1914. Literature and Medicine 3, 1, 2021, pp. 133-153; Haejoo Kim, Vegetarian evolution in nineteenth century Britain. Journal of Victorian Culture 26, 4, 2021, pp. 519-533.

[xviii] For a link to his articles, see

https://ivu.org/index.php/history/2013-02-17-21-30-33/19-ivu/vegetarian-history/308-history-of-vegetarian-societies-in-africa (accessed 13 April 2022)

[xix] Albert West, ‘In the early days with Gandhi’.

[xx] Isabel Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading. Cambridge, MA and London, Harvard University Press, 2013.

[xxi] Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press, p. 59.

[xxii] West, ‘In the early days with Gandhi’.

[xxiii] James Hunt, cited in Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press, p. 63.

[xxiv] Laljeeth Ramdhani, Natal: The Great Storm and the Floods of 1905. Durban, University of KwaZulu-Natal Gandhi Documentation Centre, 1984. Available at  https://disa.ukzn.ac.za/sites/default/files/DC%20Metadata%20Files/Gandhi-Luthuli%20Documentation%20Centre/DOC%2001-01-84%20RAM/DOC%2001-01-84%20RAM.pdf

[xxv] West, ‘In the early days with Gandhi’.

Edith Smith: The First Woman Police Officer in the UK

Edith Smith in uniform. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edith_Smith_policewoman.jpg

Olivia Hennessy

To wrap up Women’s History Month, I would like to discuss a woman with a close-to-home connection. Grantham is my home town, with many recognised heritage sites and connections to well-known individuals. But has anyone heard of Edith Smith? She was the first woman police constable to gain the full powers of arrest in the UK, for her work in Grantham.

It’s worth pausing to consider the implications for women who came into contact with the law at a time when there were no female officers. Through the Victorian and Edwardian periods, women were cleared from court rooms during sexual assault cases, there was an extremely low conviction rate for sexual offenders and women convicted of crimes were treated extremely harshly.  Organisations such as the British Women’s Temperance Association began to agitate for an improvement, including the need for women police ‘matrons’ to protect women accused and convicted of crimes.

As with so many other aspects of women’s struggle for social equality, the First World War proved important: in return for their participation in the war effort, they won concessions. One of these was the foundation in 1914 of the Women’s Police Service in London – to fill the roles of men who were away at the front. This gave Edith Smith the opportunity to take on a full-time policing role.  Born in Birkenhead in 1876,  she married in 1897 but a decade later was already widowed with four children to support. She moved to London and trained as a nurse and midwife. She joined the WPS and was posted to Grantham, the first county town to form a branch of the WPS.

In 1915, Smith’s post became an official, paid one, at  £1.40 per week. For the remainder of the war, she served in Grantham. A substantial part of her job involved visiting families of girls considered to be at risk of prostitution and ensuring compliance with a wartime curfew imposed on women. Both duties were related to the fact that there were significant numbers of army recruits being trained near the town.  How to regulate relations between them and Grantham women became a huge issue locally. In 1917 Smith was granted powers of arrest – the first woman Police Constable to gain this power.  One researcher has remarked, ‘whether female police officers were there to protect women from men, or vice versa, is a moot point’. However, what is beyond doubt is that Grantham was the site of a key contest over rights of association between army men and civilian women, and women like Smith were mobilised to regulate these rights.

After the war, Smith returned to Halton, near Liverpool, and nursing. Her life could not have been easy and she took her own life in 1923. She was buried in an unmarked grave. In more recent years, as part of the centenary commemorations of the First World War, she has found renewed recognition. Merseyside police erected a proper headstone on her grave in 2018, and there are plaques dedicated to her memory on the Lincolnshire Police Headquarters at Nettleham, at Halton and in Grantham. There is also a street called Edith Smith way in Grantham, and the Grantham Museum mounted an exhibition on her life and career in 2018.

References:

Alison Woodeson, The first women police: a force for equality or infringement? Women’s History Review, 2, 2, 1993, pp 217-232. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09612029300200025?needAccess=true

Grantham Civic Society. ‘PC Edith Smith’. Accessed 25th March 2021. http://www.granthamcivicsociety.co.uk/public/plaque_smith.php

BBC. ‘World War One at Home’ (4th February 2014). Accessed 25th March 2021. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01rp7g6

 

Murderous Millinery – Claire Arrand on Women Pioneers in Animal Welfare

This women’s month, Reimagining Lincolnshire project member Claire Arrand, has written a post on the women led campaign to end millinery on the University of  Lincoln Library Blog:

The full blog piece can be accessed here:

https://library.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2022/03/21/murderous-millinery/

“Milliners were located around the city but concentrated on Silver Street, where there were up to 5 listed at any one time between 1857 and 1919, in either the Lincoln or Lincolnshire trade directories 

Millinery businesses were the target for two different groups of women, Etta Lemon in Croydon and Emily Watson in Manchester. In 1889 Etta joined a branch of the Fur, Fin and Feather Club, appalled at the fashion of trimming hats with feathers and other avian decoration. This club joined with Emily Watson’s Society for the Protection of Birds and eventually became the RSPB. They decided to try and change public opinion, highlight this cruel trade and persuade women to solely use the available alternatives, fake flowers, lace and velvet, which were used when feathers were temporarily not in fashion.” 

Stained glass?

Heather Hughes

We mark International Women’s Day 2022 with an account of the representations of Matoaka, better known as Pocahontas, in St Helen’s Church in Willoughby, Lincolnshire.  Her story is intimately bound up in United States foundational myths, which explains why there have been so many portrayals (and fabrications) of her in art, literature and film.[1]

The connection to Willoughby is through John Smith, who was born there and baptised in St Helen’s in early January 1580. In his mid-teens, he went to sea and in that age of exploration, soldiering, piracy and adventure, fought as a mercenary in various dynastic struggles in Europe as well as against the Ottoman empire in the eastern Mediterranean.   He became involved in the Virginia Company in London. Despite being accused of mutiny on the voyage (he was always a controversial character), he was a leading figure in founding the first permanent European settlement in North America, at Jamestown, in 1607.[2]

The settlement was not a happy one; apart from serious internal difficulties, relations with surrounding Native American polities were poor.  By Smith’s own account, he was captured by members of the Powhatan polity and threatened with execution. Chief Powhatan’s young daughter, Matoaka, intervened to save his life. Thus arose the myth that the new country was founded on love and intercultural harmony.[3]

As many scholars have pointed out, ‘the story of Pocahontas and John Smith tells of an “original” encounter of which no even passably “immediate” account exists’.[4]  Nevertheless, it has been endlessly embroidered to suit the needs of white Americans, in part by denying the violence and dispossession of colonial expansion. (By the same token, some Native Americans have regarded her as a traitor figure.)

Matoaka herself was captured in hostilities between the Powhatan and colonists in 1613 and converted to Christianity, taking the name Rebecca. She married colonist John Rolfe the following year; in 1615, she gave birth to a son and in 1616 the family travelled to London. She was feted in polite society as an example of ‘what a savage could become’; as they were preparing to return to Virginia, she became ill and died at Gravesend in Kent in 1617. She was only 20 or 21.

Her portrayal in St Helen’s thus arises from a claimed and very brief childhood association with John Smith, who had left Virginia in 1609, never to return. There are in fact three different portrayals, all from her young adult life. Two are in stained glass and another appears in an interpretive panel.

Pocahontas receiving instruction (H. Hughes)

One stained glass scene depicts her receiving Christian instruction, presumably before her conversion, from Alexander Whitaker, ‘the Apostle of Virginia’. The image is, by any measure, deeply problematic, partly because it is a relatively recent addition in the church (1985). She is the only dark-skinned figure in the window, and she is semi-naked. Tattoos are visible on her arms. She is bare-breasted and seems to be demurely trying to hide her nakedness in the presence of the heavily-clad apostle, but only half succeeds.  Her gaze is directed at the tall figure looking down on her, yet her facial expression is hard to interpret: is she interested, or is she ungrateful? Yet the gazes to which she, in her vulnerability, are subjected in turn are more powerful than her own, and they are all white (and in the artwork, male): that of the apostle, of the benefactor who paid for the glazing, Philip Barbour of Louisville, Kentucky; and those of the congregations and visitors, not all make of course, who have looked on the window since it was installed. It is hard to escape the demeaning othering.

Pocahontas, after van de Passe engraving (H. Hughes)

This is in sharp contrast to her portrayal in another window on the south side of the nave. Here she is profusely clothed in fine garments, as she would have worn during her London visit. It is based on the only likeness made during her lifetime, an engraving by Simon van de Passe. This image was meant to show how very well integrated into settler society she had become. So integrated, in fact, that she is not obviously a person of colour; we know that from the elaborate surrounding scroll that bears the name ‘Pocahontas’. This time, her gaze is directed outwards to us, the viewers: she holds her own and relates as ‘one of us’. She looks far older than her 21 years.

East Lindsey History Matters Panel (H. Hughes)

The portrayal in the interpretive panel is an image of the famous statue that stands in historic Jamestown. Cast in bronze to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Virginia colony (but only completed in 1922), we see a young woman with open arms, modestly clothed in a westernised imagining of Native American fringed garments, with neat shoes on her feet. The statue’s hands, we are told,  have become shiny from all those who have held them to have their photos taken. A reproduction of this friendly, welcoming figure stands in the graveyard in Gravesend where she is buried.

Taken together, these images, as well as the context of their creation, underline the continuing complexities of Matoaka/Pocahontas, not only in US national myth but in the backstory of other key figures in the making of that myth. Their siting in a Lincolnshire parish church should also mean that they are acknowledged as difficult and contested heritage, which could open the way to meaningful dialogue about how we make our places of worship more inclusive.

 

[1] Monika Siebert, Pocahontas looks back and then looks elsewhere: the entangled gaze in contemporary indigenous art.. ab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples’ Cultures 2, 2 (2018), pp. 207-226.

[2] For an overview, see Robert Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet (eds), Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

[3] Derek Buescher and Kent Ono, Civilised colonialism: Pocahontas as neocolonial rhetoric. Women’s Studies in Communication 19, 2, 1996, 127-153.

[4] Peter Hulme, cited in Heike Paul, The Myths that Made America. Bielefeld, Transcript, 2014, p. 94.

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ Finals Night 28/10/21

BY JUDY HARRIS (Reimagining Lincolnshire researcher) with PAL CARTER[i] (folk singer)

Beneath the veneer of Lincolnshire’s agricultural calmness there are many vibrant communities full of vigour and interest. The life and history of Lincolnshire is varied and full of interesting and exciting tales which we want to preserve by encouraging people to write songs about them.  http://lincolnshiresong.co.uk/index.shtml

October 1st was Lincolnshire Day and Reimagining Lincolnshire Research Fellow Rob Waddington treated us to a blog tribute to the region’s talent and contributions to pop music over the last sixty years.

We continue that theme in this blog by drawing attention to a recent ‘voices’ from Lincolnshire event showcasing some more creative local singers and songwriters.

Aiming to stimulate and celebrate county-wide song writing, the ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ contest has been a popular annual event since 1992. Until last year it was supported by BBC Radio Lincolnshire. Traditionally, the finals night has been broadcast as a three-hour long radio show. This year was the first time the contest was supported by grassroots action and crowd funding. The finals took place in front of a live and good-sized audience at the Louth Riverhead Theatre on the evening of 28th October 2021.

All ten entries were written and performed especially for the contest. Each celebrated local history and heritage told or retold to old and new audiences. Whether yellowbellies[ii] or not, all the performers expressed a love of Lincolnshire!

The full recording is available on the ‘Write a Lincolnshire Song’ website, please click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWP3UR9aDrk

What follows is a summary of the songs in order of performance followed by a short review by Pal Carter.

There were four awards: gold, silver, bronze and ‘outstanding performance’.

  1. The Bluestone Hills, written and performed by Caroline Cakebread and Pete Conner, accompanied by Jon Newby, Richard Hodgetts and Richard Nunn.

‘This gently flowing song is descriptive of Lincolnshire beaches and countryside. Caroline has a lovely clear voice, supported by guitar, keyboard, double bass and flugelhorn.’

  1. This is my Home, written by and accompanied on guitar by David Godfrey.

This song features highlights of life in a small Lincolnshire town called Wragby by a relative newcomer (he has only lived there for 15 years!). Delivered in a confident and accomplished style, amusing in places.’

  1. Our Patch of England, written by Andy Lenton, performed by Andy Tymens on guitar and Steve Scarfe on keyboard.

Unfortunately, Andy Lenton was away and could not perform. This is a protest song, railing against the proposed nuclear waste dump at Theddlethorpe. The harmonies in the chorus complement the very topical lyrics.’

  1. One Hour 2020, written and performed by Penny Sykes, accompanying herself on concertina.

Imagery of the fens and marshes around Holbeach feature in this song, along with references to birds and local flooding, hard to avoid these days. Another singer with a lovely clear voice.

  1. Toadman, written and sung by Amanda Lowe with banjo accompaniment.

This song is rooted Lincolnshire legend. Toadman is another name for a horse whisperer with devilish powers. The storyline is strong and the singers stage presence very communicative. Silver prize winner.

  1. The Knight of Castle Hills, written by Lynn Haynes and performed by her and Paul Bellamy on guitar.

‘Castle Hills is a medieval site north of Gainsborough and this is a ghost tale about a medieval knight. The lyrics are poetic, the guitar finely played and the singing strong and clear. Lynn Haynes also plays the tin whistle towards the end which is a nice touch’.

  1. The Winceby Stone, written and performed by Jan and Paul Ramsey, with guitar and harmonica accompaniment.

‘This is a legendary tale of a stone in a field, rumoured to hide buried treasure and what happened when people tried to dig it up. The introduction and choruses are sung a capella’. Bronze prize winner.

  1. Skipping with Annie, written by Angela King and performed by her and Paul Dickinson on guitar.

‘This song explores the connections between plants and people. There are lovely poignant chords and magical lyrics, giving the song a whimsical feel’.

  1. The Usher Imp, written by Julie Wigley and performed by Stonesthrow (Steve and Julie Wigley and Tony Fowkes).

‘This song is about the Lincoln Imp and the jewellery made in its image by James Usher in the 1800s.[iii] Sung unaccompanied, delivered with a variety of “actions” this was a worthy winner’. Gold Prize Winner and Performance Prize.

  1. The Luttrell Psalter, written by Kim Biggs and performed by her and Phil Biggs.

‘In the 14th century a landowner named Luttrell commissioned an illustrated psalter to depict the lives of tenant farmers in Lincolnshire. This song, accompanied by Kim on accordion and Phil on guitar, has some amusing lyrics. The book can be found in the British Museum.’

The variety of sources for these songs – people, legends, history, pagan stories, the rituals of rural life – set against landscapes of brooding marches and fens with big skies, deep ditches, sea frets and foggy mornings all within reach of the gentle rolling chalk hills and the wide shallow valleys of the Wolds with their babbling streams, old woodlands, market towns, small villages with ancient churches – make for a rich and evocative set of performances.

There was a balance between male and female performers, soloists, duos, trios, and even a quintet!

[i] Pal’s folk ‘career’ started in 1965 in the infamous Log Cabin above The Greyhound pub in Louth. The resident band was The Meggies (nickname for Cleethorpes). They had a singer called Sue Clark. After Sue left, Pal sang a few times; ‘The Waggoner’s Lad’ being the first song she sang in public. Leaving school in 1966, Pal moved to London and did very little singing over the next 38 years. In 1994, she met Tom Paley (American folk singer and musician) who invited her to the Cecil Sharp Folk Club (‘the spiritual home of English traditional music’, The Times, January 20190, where he played every week – https://www.efdss.org/cecil-sharp-house. So she went, sang The Waggoner’s Lad, and still sings at Sharps. These days she also writes CD reviews for Folk London magazine and sometimes does the emceeing at Sharps.

[ii] No-one really knows where this term comes from. It is definitely different from yellow-belly (meaning cowardly). At its simplest yellowbelly is someone born and bred in Lincolnshire. According to Wikipedia – ‘A yellowbelly is a person from Lincolnshire, England. The origin of this nickname is disputed, and many explanations have been offered. These include: The uniforms of the Lincolnshire Regiment were green with yellow facings. The fastenings of the uniform tunic, which were known as frogs, were also yellow.’ Other explanations link to term to the medication used for a malaria-like illness that turned fen residents’ skin yellow. Or perhaps it refers to labourers who harvested cereal crops?

[iii] The Usher family jewellery firm is still in business in Lincoln. The son of the founder James Ward Usher was appointed Sheriff of Lincoln in 1916 and bequeathed funds to build the Usher Art Gallery. The gallery opened in 1917 and contains Usher family collections of clocks, watches, porcelain, and miniatures.

Remembering Richard Hill

To mark International Abolition of Slavery Day on 2 December, this post features a prominent abolitionist with strong links to Lincolnshire, Richard Hill – someone who deserves to be far better known in this region.

The Hon Richard Hill. From https://nljdigital.nlj.gov.jm/items/show/411#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&xywh=-61%2C-4%2C345%2C351

Richard Hill was born in Jamaica on 1 May 1795. His father, also Richard, came from a well-established family in the Horncastle area and  emigrated to Jamaica in 1779, with his brothers George Edward, Charles and Robert.[1]

Richard senior settled in Montego Bay, became a successful merchant and married a woman of colour. They had three children, Richard, Ann and Jane. In the pernicious race classifications of the time (how much ‘black’ blood was there?), Richard and Ann were registered as ‘quadroon’, while Jane was registered as ‘mestee’.[2]

When he was still very young, Richard junior was sent to live with relatives in England and attended the Elizabethan Grammar School in Horncastle. On his father’s death in 1818, he returned to Jamaica as the head of the household and to sort out inheritance matters. His father had already made him ‘pledge himself to devote his energies to the cause of freedom, and never to rest until those civil disabilities, under which the Negroes were labouring, had been entirely removed; and, further, until slavery itself had received its death-blow’.[3]

In pursuit of this end, Hill travelled widely in the Caribbean, the United States and Canada,  and returned to England in 1827 to secure the assistance of the Anti-Slavery Society and its leading figures including Wilberforce, Buxton, Clarkson, Babington, Lushington and Zachary Macaulay. He delivered a petition to the House of Commons and remained in England for some time, writing and lecturing.[4]

It is of note that his sister Jane accompanied him to London; she remained in the UK until the early 1830s. Like her brother, she was active in the anti-slavery movement  although frustratingly little is known of her role.  According to Ryan Hanley’s Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing c.1770- 1830,  they seem to have been on good terms with Thomas Pringle, secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, who was well connected to a network of black women in London. It is likely that the Anti-Slavery Society supported both siblings financially.

The Society sent Hill to San Domingo in 1830 to investigate social and political conditions there. His visit lasted nearly two years. Back in Jamaica, he was witness to the formal ending of slavery, for which he gave credit to the struggles of both enslaved and free black people:

Slave uprising on Roehampton Estate. http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/1435

‘The year 1830 saw the fires of rebellion lighted on the very mountains where the Maroon negroes had sounded the signal of insurrection thirty-five years before. The neighbouring valleys that had remained tranquil under the shock, were now the scene of general havoc and disorder. “Physical strength is with the governed.” That strength was felt, and roused into action … The struggle brought to a rapid close the question of colonial slavery. Two years after these events, in the month of July, 1834, I visited these very scenes in the quality of a magistrate specially commissioned to prepare both masters and slaves for the general emancipation’.[5]

Abolition was to be followed by a so-called apprenticeship phase, during which plantation workforces were to transition from slavery to wage labour. Hill was intimately involved in this process, having been appointed a magistrate to adjudicate cases between formerly enslaved apprentices and their employers.   Although highly regarded by British officials, Hill found himself criticised for his perceived  leniency towards apprentices; this led to him to resign his position.[6] He subsequently accepted the post of  Secretary to the Special Magistrates Department at Spanish Town – a sort of ‘deanship’ of all the stipendiary magistrates [7] and a position he held until 1871.

James Thome and J. H. Kimball, the authors of an anti-slavery study of 1837, wrote of him,

‘We spent nearly a day with Richard Hill, Esq., the secretary of the special magistrates’ departments … He is a colored gentleman, and in every respect the noblest man, white or black, whom we met in the West Indies. He is highly intelligent and of fine moral feelings. His manners are free and unassuming, and his language in conversation fluent and well chosen…. He is at the head of the special magistrates (of whom there are sixty in this island) and all the correspondence between them and the governor is carried on through him. The station he holds is a very important one, and the business connected with it is of a character and extent that, were he not a man of superior abilities, he could not sustain. He is highly respected by the government in the island and at home, and possesses the esteem of his fellow citizens of all colors. He associates with persons of the highest rank, dining and attending parties at the government house with all the aristocracy of Jamaica.’[8]

He held many leading civic and political roles through his long career. These included Agent General of Immigration, and serving on the Privy Council, Board of Education and the Royal Society of Arts and Agriculture.

The last-mentioned is a hint of his greatest love: nature and the natural history of Jamaica, on which he published many scientific papers. He corresponded with Charles Darwin and the curators at the Smithsonian and advised the famous naturalist Philip Henry Gosse on his Jamaican research. His contribution to natural history is slowly being recognised – for example, Sessions’ recent study argues that Hill influenced Gosse to treat nature and emancipation as intimately linked.[9]

Hill also wrote extensively, and eloquently, on Jamaican history: A Week at Port Royal (1858), Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History (1859), Eight Chapters in the History of Jamaica, 1508-1680 (1868), and The Picaroons of One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago 1869). He died in 1872.

In very recent times, there have been attempts to remember Richard Hill in Lincolnshire. The Horncastle History and Heritage Society ran an event with students from the grammar school, which knew nothing of him until said event. The Society also discovered that Hill had corresponded with Horncastle historian, printer and auctioneer George Weir; letters between them are held in the National Library of Jamaica.[10]

There is a way to go before this crusading emancipationist and naturalist occupies a proper place in a reimagined Lincolnshire.

Heather Hughes

[1] F.J. DuQuesnay, Richard Hill – Son of Jamaica at http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Samples2/fred09.htm  draws on family letters to shed light on his early life. [Accessed 1 December 2021].

[2] Elisabeth Griffith-Hughes, A Mighty Experiment: The Transition from Slavery to Freedom in Jamaica, 1834-1838. PhD Thesis, University of Georgia, 2003, p. 75.

[3] Frank Cundell, Richard Hill. The Journal of Negro History 5, 1, 1920, p.37

[4] Frank Cundell, Richard Hill, p.38.

[5] Richard Hill, Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History; Being Three Lectures Delivered in Aid of the Mission Schools of the Colony. Kingston, Ford and Gall, 1859, p. 93. Available at Lights and Shadows of Jamaica History: Being Three Lectures, Delivered in … – Richard Hill – Google Books [accessed 1 December 2021]

[6] Griffith-Hughes, A Mighty Experiment, p.75

[7] Monica Schuler, Coloured civil servants in post-emancipation Jamaica: two case studies. Caribbbean Quarterly 30, 3/4,  1984, p.95

[8] Jas A. Thome and J. Horace Kimball, Emancipation in the West Indies. A Six Months’ Tour in Antigua, Barbadoes and Jamaica in the Year 1837. New York, The American Anti-Slavery Society, 1838, p. 425-6.

[9] Emily Sessions, Anti-picturesque landscapes, entangled fauna, and interracial collaboration in post-emancipation Jamaica in the work of Philip Henry Gosse and Richard Hill.  Terrae Incognitae, 53, 1, 2021, 26-47.

[10] Email Ian Marshman to Heather Hughes 22 July 2021. Many thanks to Ian Marshman, Chair of the Horncastle History and Heritage Society, for this information.

Anti-Slavery Day 2021 – Local ‘Lincs’

Since 2010, and the passing of the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day Act, the 18th October has become an annual day of awareness-raising, and of reflection, on the continued plight of the millions of people who remain enslaved around the world today.

Globally, it is estimated that there are around 40 million people living in situations of ‘modern slavery’. An umbrella term, ‘modern slavery’ refers to situations of ‘exploitative labour that places one person in the control of another’.[1]  This could include forced or bonded labour, human trafficking, descent-based slavery, child labour and forced or early marriage. Forced labour is by far the most prevalent form of modern slavery, accounting for approximately 60% of all cases around the world.[2]

Modern forms of slavery can be found in every country around the world, including in the UK.[3] Forced labour is the most common form of slavery here, and is believed to be fuelled by a demand for cheap products and services. Often this labour sees people trapped into working on farms, in construction, nail bars, hospitality, car washes, or in factories. In 2019, over 10,000 people were referred to the authorities as victims of modern slavery in the UK but the true number of how many people remain enslaved in this country is believed to be much higher.[4] In 2017, the Centre for Social Justice used a new data modelling technique to analyse crime reporting and intelligence records. Applying their findings across the whole country, they concluded that there is likely to be at least 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.[5] The situation over the last two years with Coronavirus is likely to have exacerbated the problem.

In 2017 Lincolnshire Police secured the successful conviction of a family of 11 perpetrators, in the largest modern slavery trial in UK legal history.[6] The Rooney family had kept victims in squalid conditions and forced them to work for little or no pay. One had been trapped by them for 26 years. This conviction was the result of a large scale, county-wide operation which had begun in 2014. In 2019, Lincolnshire Police reported a sharp rise in the number of victims of modern slavery identified across the county. This had quadrupled, from 51 victims identified in 2018 to over 200 the following year.[7] Another noted reality of the situation in the county was that the widely-accepted myth that modern slavery was only affecting foreign nationals was not true – the third highest number of victims were people from the UK.

Modern slavery is often hidden in plain sight, and as such can be difficult to identify. Anti-slavery International, founded in 1839 as the oldest human rights organisation in the world, has identified a number of signs that might mean someone is enslaved.[8] They might:

  • appear to be in the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others
  • not have personal identification on them
  • have few personal belongings, wear the same clothes every day or wear unsuitable clothes for work
  • not be able to move around freely
  • be reluctant to talk to strangers or the authorities
  • appear frightened, withdrawn, or show signs of physical or psychological abuse
  • dropped off and collected for work always in the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night.

 

If you’re worried about someone, having noted any of the above, then you can report your concerns directly with the Modern Slavery Helpline by calling 0800 121 700 or visit the Modern Slavery Helpline website where you can also complete a report online. Lincolnshire Police also recommend that you download the @UnseenUK app to find out more about the signs of modern slavery and how to report your concerns.

[1] Anti-Slavery International – FAQs

[2] Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking (Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking) (ilo.org)

[3] Modern slavery in the UK – Anti-Slavery International (antislavery.org)

[4] 2020 UK annual report on modern slavery (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[5] It still happens here: Fighting UK Slavery in the 2020s – The Centre for Social Justice

[6] Rooney traveller family jailed for modern slavery offences – BBC News

[7] Sharp rise in modern slavery across Lincolnshire | LincolnshireWorld

[8] Spot the signs of slavery and what to do – Anti-Slavery International (antislavery.org)

Thanks to Rebecca Craven who authored this blogpost. 

Francis Barber’s Lincolnshire connections

Francis Barber, born c. 1742, is best known as one of the servants in Samuel Johnson’s London household. He has appeared in the many biographies of Johnson and has himself been the subject of at least two.  Aleyn Lyell Reade’s was published in 1912.[1]  It claimed to be an exhaustive collection of all references to Barber in letters, memoirs, and biographies of Johnson; its emphasis was on Johnson’s beneficence rather than Barber’s personhood. The most recent is by Michael Bundock.[2]  On the whole, people are more important than places in Bundock’s account, but that makes it easy to miss Barber’s connections to Lincolnshire.

Barber was born into slavery in Jamaica, probably on the sugar-producing Orange River estate on the northern shores of Jamaica, in the parish of St Mary. It was owned at the time by Colonel Richard Bathurst, a prominent member of the plantocracy. Barber’s earliest-known name was Quashey, one that frequently appears in slave name studies.[3] It is testimony to the tenacity of enslaved communities’ cultural memories, for it references a day of birth, Sunday, originating in the Akan speech area of West Africa.[4]

By 1750, Bathurst was in severe financial difficulties. He put his Jamaican estates up for sale and returned to Britain; for reasons that remain obscure, he brought Quashey, now seven or eight years old, with him. They stayed briefly with Bathurst’s physician son, also called Richard, in London.[5]

Not long after arrival, Quashey was baptised and given the name Francis Barber, symbolically severing him from his African and slave background. The choice of the new Christian name is not clear and no record has (yet) been found of his baptism. As Bundock notes, “either the relevant entry [in a London parish register] has not survived or the baptism took place elsewhere”.[6]  There is at least a possibility that the ‘elsewhere’ was Lincoln. Bathurst senior’s home was in The Close, Lincoln, he made his will in Lincoln in 1754 and his burial occurred in St Mary Magdalene, Castle Hill, in the following year. The executor of his estate, Peter Lely, also lived in The Close.

He may well have brought Barber with him to the city, for he seems already to have selected a small school in Yorkshire for him to attend. Bundock asks the question, “why should Barber have been sent some 250 miles to go to school?” (p. 37) but this assumes a starting point in London. The choice makes more sense if Lincoln is taken as his point of departure. In any event he was not at school long; by early 1752, he had joined Samuel Johnson’s household.

Evidence suggests he was not entirely happy there. Col Bathurst’s will had decreed that “I give to Francis Barber a negroe whom I brought from Jamaica aforesaid into England his freedom and twelve pounds in money”. [7]  Barber used his inheritance to take up a position as apothecary’s apprentice, and then to join the navy. It was Johnson who got him discharged some years later and he rejoined the household as Johnson’s personal servant. Ingledew describes his responsibilities:

‘A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynolds’s’ by D. George Thompson, published by Owen Bailey, after James William Edmund Doyle. Stipple and line engraving, published 1 October 1851. NPG D14518 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Barber is thought to be the figure standing at the back on the right; Johnson is seated second from left.

“He performed all the routine duties of a valet, overseeing Johnson’s clothing, buying his provisions, reminding him of appointments, answering the door to callers and announcing their arrival to his master, or protecting him from unwelcome visitors, nursing him in sickness even to the extent of bloodletting, reading to him when his sight was too bad to let him do so himself, waiting at table, making coffee, fetching parcels from the post office, and booking coach seats for Johnson’s annual summer pilgrimages to such places as Oxford, Lichfield, Ashbourne or Lincolnshire, on which he accompanied and looked after his master. A number of tasks which Johnson thought might have been demeaning for Francis he would not let him do, such as buckling his shoes, or buying food for his cat, Hodge.” [8]

Bennet Langton. Carl Fredrik von Breda (1759–1818), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the Lincolnshire visits occurred in 1764, to Johnson’s close friend Bennet Langton at Langton Hall, near Spilsby. From this occasion is derived an insight into Barber’s physical attractiveness: Johnson is reputed to have told a group of friends some years later that

“When I was in Lincolnshire so many years ago, he attended me thither; and when we returned home together, I found that a female haymaker had followed him to London for love.” [9]

Johnson left £2000, the bulk of his estate, to Barber. While this was a very generous settlement, the amount was not given to Barber outright; rather, it was tied up in trusts, which included an annuity of £70 to be paid out of a lump sum of £750 administered by Bennet Langton. In a sense, this arrangement bound Francis Barber forever to Lincolnshire, although it is not known if he ever visited again. He and his family moved to Lichfield, where he died in 1801.

[1] Aleyn Lyell Reade, Johnsonian Gleanings Part II: Francis Barber The Doctor’s Negro Servant. Arden Press, 1912.

[2] Michael Bundock, The Fortunes of Francis Barber. Yale University Press, 2021.

[3] Handler, J and Jacoby, J. Slave names and naming in Barbados, 1650-1830. William and Mary Quarterly 53, 4, 1996, pp. 685-728; Burnard, T. Slave-naming patterns: onomastics and the taxonomy of race in eighteenth-century Jamaica. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31, 3, 2001, pp. 325-346.

[4] Vincent Carretta, Francis Barber. Browse In Freedman/Freedwoman, 1775–1800: The American Revolution and Early Republic | Oxford African American Studies Center (oxfordaasc.com) accessed 11 October 2021.

[5] Reade, Francis Barber, p. 4.

[6] Bundock, The Fortunes of Francis Barber, p. 36.

[7] The will is reproduced in full in Reade, p. 3.

[8] Ingledew, J. Samuel Johnson’s Jamaica connections. Caribbean Quarterly 30, 2 1984, p. 7.

[9] Cited in Philip Butcher, Francis Barber, Dr Samuel Johnson’s Negro Servant. Negro History Bulletin 11, 2, 1947, p. 38.

Black Disabled activists/ Black Activism for disability: Johnnie Lacy

To mark Black History Month 2021, we will be posting several guest posts on unheard or little-known stories. Some are from Lincolnshire, others from the wider world may be better-known elsewhere, but we should know them better here, and find inspiration in them. This blog was written by Olivia Hennessy, on behalf of the University of Lincoln Students Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (SEDIC).

The theme we have chosen for Black History Month is Black disability history. We felt that this group should be more represented and recognised by students so they can share the stories of Black disabled activists. This series will focus on activists and Black activism for disability. Let’s start with Johnnie Lacy.

Lacy’s upbringing in the US deep south shaped her understanding of race in the 1930s and 1940s. The education system in Louisiana demonstrates the racial segregation that Johnnie Lacy faced.

At the age of 19, Lacy contracted polio which left her paralysed. This was while she was in the middle of studying for a nursing degree. She also was battling ableism and discrimination. Lacy later went on to study at San Francisco State University, but her re-entry into education was not easy. Her head of department attempted to deny her entry onto her course. Eventually, Lacy was allowed to enrol, but was not allowed to participate in her graduation or be a part of her school. From her college experiences, Lacy describes how she viewed her blackness with her disability:

‘But I basically was forming my own personal philosophy and political philosophy, and I never really felt completely a part of a movement, African-American movement, mainly because I was very much aware that I was not particularly acknowledged as an African-American with a disability who had ideas, who could contribute, and all of those things. That also was kind of a later development for me.

It has been problematic for blacks to identify with disability. My classmates would have had to accept my disability within the same intellectual framework as my blackness–that of an oppressed minority opposite.’

I believe that African Americans see disability in the same way that everybody else sees it–worthless, mindless–without realizing that this is the same attitude held by others toward African Americans. This belief in effect cancels out the black identity they share with a disabled black person, both socially and culturally, because the disability experience is not viewed in the same context as if one were only black, and not disabled. Because of this myopic view, I as a black disabled person could not share in the intellectual dialogue viewed as exclusive to black folk. In other words, I could be one or the other but not both.’

All of this led to her become a disability rights activist, working for Berkeley’s Centre for Independent Living and similar institutions, and she eventually became the Director of Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, California.

Lacy often spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of colour. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other black women with disabilities. She was, and continues to be, an inspiring woman that deserves more recognition, so that is why SEDIC has written about this powerful individual.

References:

Ramp Your Voice. ‘Black History Month 2017: Johnnie Lacy, Defiantly Black and Disabled’, February 10th 2017. [Accessed on 29/09/21] http://www.rampyourvoice.com/black-history-month-2017-johnnie-lacy-defiantly-black-disabled/