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Celebrate Exeter's Black History

Published: 16 October 2020

Mrs Hendy Dorothea Hendy

People are being encouraged to celebrate Exeter’s ethnic diversity as part of Black History Month.

Cllr Amal Ghusain, Lead Councillor for Communities and Culture, said the city should celebrate its black history and tell the stories that need to be told.

She said there were a number of sources available as part of Black History Month including interesting online content at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, which opens up to visitors again on 24 October.

RAMM commissioned two interviews with Black artists whose works have been or will be featured at the Museum. Nahem Shoa features in a video talking about his experiences of racism in art. Nahem’s Portrait of Des is part of the RAMM collection, and was donated by the artist in 2014.

RAMM also has a video of the artist Joy Gregory discussing the piece she is creating for the Transatlantic Slave Trade exhibition. Joy is a celebrated multimedia artist whose work explores race, gender and cultural differences in contemporary society.

Also RAMM decorative arts curator Sally Ayres has written a blog post which discusses the history of RAMM’s Portrait of an African, and the different mis-identifications of the sitter throughout the years.

Another website - Telling our Stories, Finding our Roots: Exeter's Multi-Coloured History is s a Heritage Lottery funded project run by Devon Development Education (DDE). The project is driven by a multicultural team of local volunteers.

One such story explores  Dorothea Hendy, the daughter of a black sea captain and a white cornishwoman, who lived in Exeter for 60 years and was known for helping people in lots of ways, including making wedding dresses and wedding cakes for them, when times were hard.

Those who knew Dorothea and grew up with her are interviewed on the website from a number of years ago. Dorothea was a regular at Wonford Community Centre’s Bingo and a founder member of Wonford luncheon club. Her story is told on the Telling Stories website and includes a frightening experience of racism one night in the war.

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