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  • Hoodo Nora

Finding Community at YHP

Earlier last December, I had my first official YHP event, where me and Ameila were presenting and showcasing a screening of YHP’S ‘We are our own liberators’, a film on the Black Liberation Front (BLF). During the introduction, I had mentioned that I had been a part of the Young Historians Project since August of 2022, and it was not until that moment that I had considered how long that actually was. Six months into my work at YHP, and I still felt relatively new to the organisation and was in the midst of finding my feet. Working such an event had felt like my official initiation into YHP, and internally, a confirmation of acceptance to this community.

Considering everything, I wasn't particularly nervous. Public speaking used to be something I detested before I started university, but I've managed to gain some experience and confidence over the past two years by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Annoyingly enough, they were right when they said that practice makes perfect. It was also fortunate that my first YHP event happened to take place at my own university. I noticed some familiar faces in the audience, and to my surprise, a friend of mine had come along without realising that I would be presenting. During our Q&A session, they made some truly insightful comments about the importance of community for liberatory and revolutionary work, a sentiment that deeply resonates within YHP.

In introducing the Young Historians Project and outlining our principles and aims as a volunteer organisation, I thought it crucial to emphasise the immense value that YHP would have been to me as a resource during my formative years. Reflecting on my own educational journey, the complete absence of Black British History hindered my development and its deliberate omission made it difficult to develop a sense of self or identity. Within our Q&A session, we discussed the insidious propaganda inherent in this deliberate exclusion from the national curriculum, which effectively seeks to disconnect individuals from their rich Black radical heritage. Consequently, it hampers progress within the community, as valuable time is spent in pursuit of this hidden history. This situation brings to mind the profound words of Toni Morrison, who aptly described the function of racism:

“The very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do.”

History serves as a lens through which we can comprehend the current state of the world. By omitting Black history from the curriculum, we deny marginalised individuals the necessary tools needed to change that condition and that is precisely why the work of YHP is so essential. And that was a sentiment echoed within the room as a show of hands revealed that the majority of the room (including me) had learnt about the American civil rights movement, but had received no education about the rich tapestry of Black history right here on our own island. Therefore, being able to highlight that Britain has such a rich history of African and Caribbean people and show the work of the BLF, an organisation that served a crucial role in the Black political landscape during the late twentieth century, felt like taking a small step in correcting that past conditioning.

One remarkable observation I've made at previous YHP events is the undeniable interconnectedness that permeates the Black British political activist scene. The notion of the six degrees of separation seems to dissolve as there appears to be a common thread linking everyone together. I had my first taste of this phenomenon when I had the privilege of meeting Lenford Vassell, a security guard at the university who had taken time off on his day off due to his keen interest in African/Black history. Engaging in conversation with him, I discovered that he had played a significant role in various black housing associations across the UK throughout his lifetime, and he was currently employed at Tuntum Housing Association in Nottingham. He shared a wealth of intriguing insights, and in that moment, I truly felt a part of the YHP community, forging my own meaningful connections. It ignited a profound sense of excitement for the future and what it holds.

Overall, I had a really enjoyable experience, presenting at my first YHP event. There were a lot of interesting discussions during our Q&A session and I met a host of exciting people. To cap off the day, I indulged in some delightful Caribbean cuisine alongside Amelia, savouring a well-deserved treat.

I think in writing this, there is a running thread of community and finding my place in YHP. And in that discovery, I was able to extend the love of that community outwardly through outreach and education, a core principle of the Young Historians Project. As I reflect on this journey, I detect a recurring theme of community and finding my place in YHP. And in that discovery of belonging, I was able to extend the love and camaraderie of this community through outreach and education, embodying one of the core principles of the Young Historians Project.


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