Our local histories for Barking and Dagenham are sadly deficient on the lives of our BAME residents. We know that there were black people living in Barking and Dagenham from Victorian times. They lived on Barking’s Gascoigne Estate, worked in Barking’s factories and moved to Dagenham’s Becontree Estate just like thousands of other Londoners. Newspaper reports briefly name these people and rare photographs record their anonymous presence. Occasionally more prominent people appear such as Jack Leslie, the black Barking Town Footballer who was once tipped to play for England. We have missed recording the peoples of the earlier 20th century and if we don’t move quickly, we will miss the stories of those that lived through the Windrush years.
This autumn Valence House Museum and archives is launching a new initiative for Black History Month called Share your Story. Follow our simple question template to tell us about yourself and your family and how you feel about being in Barking and Dagenham. Add a photograph and we will put them up in our online galleries.
We look forward to hearing your stories – and please keep sharing beyond October, black history is not just for one month!