Hackney celebrates World Afro Day with new learning resources at borough’s libraries

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HACKNEY COUNCIL is celebrating World Afro Day for the first time by introducing a series of books to local libraries that empower people with Afro hair and raise awareness in wider society. 

World Afro Day was founded by Michelle De Leon, who launched the event in 2017 and is celebrated on 15 September – the date when, in 2016, Alabama in the United States, passed a law allowing companies to deny jobs to people with dreadlocks. 

Since 2017, World Afro Day has become a global day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair, endorsed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and tackles discrimination against Afro hair and celebrate both its power and beauty. 

Loan

New books available to loan in Hackney’s libraries include 10 copies of Hair Love by Matthew Cherry – also an Oscar-winning animation short – and multiple copies of:  Daddy Do My Hair by Tola Okogwu, My Hair by Hannah Lee, Happy to be Nappy by Bell Hooks, I Love My Hair, Natasha Tarpley and Hair Like Mine – Latashia M. Perry.

The Libraries team will also be posting to relevant podcasts, films, motivational talks and natural hair tips via their social media channels on Twitter and Facebook.  

The new books complement the Council’s previous work in celebrating the significance of Afro hair and cultural identity. In 2019, Hackney Museum curated the Hackney’s Got Style exhibition, which welcomed record numbers to explore the impact and influence of African and Caribbean hair and fashion. And earlier this year, the Council pledged to look into school uniform policies to ensure cultural appreciation was welcomed rather than rebuked. 

Embracing World Afro Day complements our legacy of celebrating all identities and how we welcome the self expression of our large black community.

Cabinet Member with responsibility for Equalities, Cllr Carole Williams

The new books will help kickstart the forthcoming Black History Season, which begins on October 1 with the raising of Hackney’s Black History flag designed by Malaika Parillon Langlais Baron over Hackney Town Hall.

Programme details are to be announced on hackney.gov.uk/black-history. Both World Afro Day and Black History Season support the Council’s Black Lives Matter motion announced over the summer, which commits to making Hackney an anti-racist borough. 

Books are available now to loan via the libraries, which are operating via an order and collect service while the buildings remain closed due to covid restrictions. Clapton, Dalston CLR James, Homerton, Shoreditch, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington libraries will be open from 11am to 4pm, Tuesday to Friday and 11am to 5pm on Saturday, for you to collect books and other items. Phone your nearest library, 11am to 4pm, or email your request to libraries@hackney.gov.uk.

Self expression

Cabinet Member with responsibility for Equalities, Cllr Carole Williams, said: “Embracing World Afro Day complements our legacy of celebrating all identities and how we welcome the self expression of our large black community.

“Afro hair has deep, historical roots in the cultural expression of many Black identities. By providing context via our learning resources we hope to highlight the importance of celebrating that fact.”


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