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Why celebrating Black history is so important – four influential figures share their experience of speaking out against racism

21/10/2020

Key figures from the world of sport, politics, culture and media will share their personal and professional experiences in an online event looking at tackling racism and inequality in Wales.  

Each of the four below has spoken up for equality in their own spheres. They will discuss their experiences and challenges of doing this in a panel event hosted by the Welsh Parliament as part of its Black History Month programme. The audience will be invited to participate by submitting a question to the panel in advance when registering via Eventbrite

Ashton Hewitt, professional rugby union player from Newport

Eric Ngalle Charles, a Cameroonian-born, Wales based writer, poet, playwright and actor

Rosie Harris, founder and director of Style in the City Magazine from Barry

Councillor Daniel De'Ath, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff

The online event will be streamed live on www.senedd.tv and YouTube at 17.30 on Friday 23 October. The session will also be available online to watch after the event. 

Chaired by Senedd Llywydd, Elin Jones MS, the panel will share what motivates them to speak up, their heroes and inspirations and the significance of promoting and celebrating Black history and heritage and the power of the Black Lives Matter protests.  

Influential figures speaking out against racism


Ashton Hewitt

Ashton Hewitt, says education is key for building a more equal and tolerant society: 

"Unfortunately, I don't think we will live in a society that will be completely free from racism, but I definitely believe that the momentum gathered by the Black Lives Matter movement has had a positive effect in increasing the understanding of many people who may have never had to concern themselves with the issue.  With this comes more people who are actively against racism which will hopefully go a long way in achieving equality for black people.  For me, education is absolutely key." - Ashton Hewitt, Dragons winger 

The Dragons winger was born and raised in Newport and is an ambassador for Positive Futures an organisation working with young people in disadvantaged and deprived areas of Gwent. He has spoken about his personal experiences and raised awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and is credited as the person who got Katie Hopkins banned from Twitter.


Eric Ngalle CharlesEric Ngalle Charles is a Cameroonian-born, Wales based writer, poet, playwright and actor. His interest is in literature and its development and how literature and its teaching can better reflect the diversity in Wales. His book Hiraeth-Ezorlirzoli formed a link between Wales and Cameroon and he has travelled back there with both the National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn and poet and author Mike Jenkins.

Eric Ngalle Charles sits on the board of directors for Literature Wales and Aberystwyth Arts Centre Advisory Group. He was most recently selected by Jackie Kay in Guardian Books as one of the ten best BAME writers in United Kingdom and his work was showcased at Cheltenham Literature festival as part of the International Literature Showcase organised by the National Centre for Writing in Norwich.


Rosie HarrisRosie Harris is the founder and director of Style of the City Magazine. As the director of a media brand and as a woman of colour, she is passionate about shining light on diversity in Wales and sharing her own experiences to instigate change within our community. 

"Black Lives Matter reminded me that so much injustice has come before me, and yet still so prevalent.  As the founder of Style of the City Magazine, I am committed to keeping the conversation going so this moment doesn't become another footnote of tragedy, but rather a beacon of light and step forward for a greater change. We as a brand will encourage our readers to be part of this change, foster greater diversity and shine a light to celebrate black voices within our community." - Rosie Harris, founder of Style of the City 

Rosie grew up in Barry, and returned to live in Cardiff after 10 years working in media in London. Recognising there was a gap for fresh on-trend local media in the capital, it was this idea that prompted Rosie to create her dynamic brand 'Style of the City' celebrating the best of Wales.


Councillor Daniel De'AthCouncillor Daniel De'Ath was elected Cardiff Lord Mayor in 2019, becoming the 115th Lord Mayor of the City and County of Cardiff, and the first of black heritage. He agrees that education of Black history, heritage and culture is key to understanding and standing against racism:   

"The #BlackLivesMatter protests around the world sparked a commitment among many individuals and organisations to educate themselves about Black history, heritage and culture – as part of understanding racism and standing in solidarity against it. 

"If that commitment is to transcend beyond social media into real change, everyone, from all communities, needs to embrace Black History Month as a starting point for exploring, discovering and celebrating Black history, heritage and culture – both past and contemporary. From the incredible achievements and contributions, to the many untold stories and barriers to progress. It's wonderful that the Welsh Parliament is playing such a positive part in doing this and celebrating black history and success." - Councillor Daniel De'Ath, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff

Councillor De'Ath grew up in Warwickshire, and moved to Cardiff to work as a Researcher at the Welsh Parliament. Daniel has represented the Plasnewydd, Roath as a County Councillor since 2012.

Windrush lecture and taster exhibition

Other events in the Senedd's programme for Black History Month include a lecture delivered by historian Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz exploring the Welsh Windrush legacy. Windrush Cymru: A History which is now available on the Senedd YouTube channel

Also, a taster exhibition on the Senedd website celebrating the stories of Windrush Elders in Wales in their own words, documented and archived as part of a Race Council Cymru project.

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