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Black women making a mark in the arts goes back at least a generation | Letters


Bernardine Evaristo rightly highlights the way that Black female artists, writers and actors are finally getting public attention (‘They are totally smashing it!’ Bernardine Evaristo on the artistic triumph of older Black women, 28 April). But the belated recognition of the role of Black women in the arts and as uncompromising “troublemakers” in the UK needs to go back at least a generation. For example, Trinidad-born Pearl Prescod was the first Black female actor at the National Theatre, in Olivier’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in 1965. In 1963, with Claudia Jones and other Black artists, who, like her, merged the personal, political and professional, she led the anti-racist march to the US embassy in London in solidarity with Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, singing We Shall Overcome.

The Institute of Race Relations is working on a project to commemorate her contribution as singer, actor, writer and organiser. However, she is but one of a whole generation from the 1950s and 1960s who should not be forgotten and written out of history.
Anya Edmond-Pettitt
Coordinator, IRR Black History Collection

Bernardine Evaristo rightly draws attention to Black females working in the arts. Sadly, there was no mention of Sharon Walters, who, through her collage series Seeing Ourselves, explores the under-representation of Black women in the arts and heritage sectors and mainstream media. Her work can be seen at the Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham.
Jennifer Henley

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