BlackFest: HerStory

Liverpool’s Black Arts organisation, BlackFest, will this week be showcasing oral histories and accounts from Merseyside’s ‘powerhouse women’ who have a ‘HerStory’ to share.

In recognition of International Women’s Day earlier this month, the festival has assembled a panel of artists and creatives who will be paying tribute to the women that have inspired their respective journeys and been a source of inspiration throughout each of their lives.

The event will take place on Wednesday 31st March, with tickets available here, via Eventbrite. Through letters, recipes, poems, and articles that influenced change in society, the HerStories will shine the spotlight on Liverpool-based extraordinary women that have previously not been given the limelight.

The night will feature a retelling of an ‘action that influenced and changed the course of history’, which paved the way for future generations and many women of colour. BlackFest Director, Susan Goligher will also be sharing a letter from her family heirloom, which has fascinating links to American politics.

The panel will consist of Dr Leona Vaughn, Michelle Peterkin-Walker, from Akoma Arts, Charlene Smith, Maria Paul from Nwoka Arts, Tracy Hylton, Claire Beerjeraz and Leah Francis from Speak Woman Speak. During the event’s 10-minute break, the festival organisers have also curated a playlist of Liverpool’s female artists, Tabitha Jade, LeeTz, Vivi, Dorcas Seb and Tara Matamba.

The event is a donations event, to make the platform as accessible for many as possible on low income, with the recommended donation being £10, for those who can afford it.

Jubeda Khatun, Artistic Director and Co-founder of BlackFest, said: “We use our platform to empower those who feel marginalised by the arts world. I believe in helping others to showcase their dreams, their vision, their voice and show them that there is a path to get there and if there isn’t – we’ll make one!

“We all struggle with our self-belief. I have myself, but I can’t retreat to the safety and familiarity of self-doubt. Shaking things up and making real change never feels comfortable. When I ask myself am I – a hijabi-wearing, married Bangali mother of two – doing the right thing? Am I being heard? Am I making a difference? It’s like yeah, I am, but it is rewarding when you get acknowledgement that your voice and vision means something to others.”

Both Jubeda and the festival were named finalists at the recent LCR Culture and Creativity Awards, in the Artist of the Year and the People’s Choice categories respectively, with Jubeda also being included in the Liverpool’s Echo’s Power List.

Jubeda continued: “It just makes me want to keep going and get more people involved as our reach is becoming city-wide breaking barriers. This further validates the need for BlackFest and it brings home what the festival can do for a city like Liverpool that is steeped in so much history hosting the oldest Black Communities.

“At BlackFest we recognise that black people in the LGBTQI+ community need their voices amplified and we are committed to raising awareness on issues related to them. In September last year we partnered with Homotopia and held an event highlighting the shocking rise in violent attacks on those identifying as Trans and Queer. To discuss the issue and their own experiences, we comprised a panel that consisted of activists, speakers and artists whose identity is more than their gender, sexual preference or race.” 

The festival, which was piloted in 2018, has consistently demonstrated LGBT+ inclusion and welcomed renowned Liverpool filmmaker Sandi Huges to its platform in 2019, to lead a post-film Q & A as part of the festival’s screening of First Take’s Pink: Past and Present an insightful and colourful documentary made by pioneers, groundbreakers, heroes and sheroes of the Liverpool LGBT community.

BlackFest’s festival dates for this year are 20th September 2021 – 26th September 2021. There will also be a celebration event at the Philharmonic Hall on 9th October 2021. 

You can follow BlackFest on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud and find upcoming events on its Eventbrite page.