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Rebel History: The Struggle to Reclaim Our Past

Thu 15 April, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM


Join poet Lawrence Hoo, mentorist Michael Barnes-Wynters, author Mike Manson and publisher Richard Jones in a discussion around what history we choose to tell and who gets to tell it. 

What do you know about British history? Is it just a dusty list of kings and queens? A study of corn laws, industrial revolution and empire, with the occasional plague thrown in for variety? As we all know, history is written by the winners so the history of rebellion, civil disobedience and protest only ever gets a mention in the text books when a movement is so successful that it changes the cultural paradigm.

There is another history. One which shares stories from the powerless, the excluded, and those who fought injustice and got beaten down. This history is collected and shared by those who are passionate about our cultural memory and who refuse to allow history’s winners to be sole guardians of our story of the past.

When Colston toppled into the water last summer, this was a single decisive act in an ongoing public battle over our city’s history, The protesters were demanding that we reconsider which people the city celebrates and who’s stories we tell. This is part of a deeper question about how Bristol – which prides itself on diversity and cultural expression – faces up to the brutalities of our past. Only time will tell how history will record Colston’s swim in the harbour, as a natural step towards a more inclusive representation of Bristol’s past or as a moment of vandalism by a rowdy mob, but we all have a part to play in choosing the storys that are told and are remembered within our culture.

Local organisations such as Cargo and the Bristol Radical History Group dedicate themselves to ensuring that the history of struggle for social justice and equality is remembered and that, as a culture we don’t hide from the darker stories of our past.

  • 7pm screening of a 10 minute film called ‘Battling for Bristol’ by Colin Thomas of the Bristol Radical History Group – following 150 years of protest movements in the city
  • 7.15pm 30min talk on the story of the Bristol Bridge Riot of 1793 from Richard Jones of Tangent Books and Mike Manson author of the book Riot
  • 7.45pm 30min talk from the poet Lawrence Hoo about his latest project Cargo Movement, why it exists, what it is trying to do, and why reclaiming history is so important
  • 8.15pm 15 min break (for the smokers, tea addicts & those with weak bladders)
  • 8.30pm 30min talk from Michael Barnes-Wynters about his cultural history project Dutty Lingo and how it was inspired by the riots that followed Mark Duggan’s death in 2011
  • 9-9.30pm Q&A session / round table discussion on the importance of representation and remembering our past.

    This discussion will kick off with the question: What did it mean when Colston’ statue hit the water?

    Tickets available now from Headfirst. The suggested donation of £4 will help us keep the School of Activism as accessible & low-cost as possible, £8 will subsidise a ticket for someone else – but no-one turned away through lack of funds!

    Featured image is a photo of an installation by street photographer Colin Moody which featured at the People’s Art Fair in September 2020.

    The School of Activism 2.0 is a two week programme of workshops, talks and activities brought to you by Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft over the Easter holidays. The workshops are intended to be empowering experiences equipping people with the tools to challenge the status quo, contest power structures and ultimately to change the world.

    We learn by doing.
    We make our own future.

  • Venue

    17-25 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft
    Bristol, BS2 8JP United Kingdom
    + Google Map
    0117 214 0029