Northamptonshire residents made their mark on history today [Friday 14 September], as their memories and experiences of racism, alongside their efforts to promote racial equality in the county, were entered into the University of Northampton archive collections, alongside the Searchlight Archive.
Over 70 people from Wellingborough and the surrounding areas, took part in the Race Act 40 project, which was created to mark 40 years since the introduction of the Race Relations Act 1976. Over the last two years researchers have spent time in the community capturing the stories of the ordinary people living, working and in education since the introduction of the Race Relations Act, to document their experiences for the oral history project.
Siobhan Tatum, Race Act 40 Project Manager, said: “Many participants in other research projects recording incidents of racism can unintentionally become a statistic. Our research has captured the experiences of ordinary people, their experiences and lives, in a way which has not seen them dehumanised. Recording their experiences, through oral history recordings, we have been able to preserve depth, individuality and the human emotion that is uniquely captured in tones, emotions, colloquialisms and silent pauses during the recorded interviews. These experiences shared by local people will be heard locally, for generations, through the work of the Searchlight Archive at the University of Northampton.”
Daniel Jones, Searchlight Collections Officer from the University said: “The addition of the Race Act 40 material to the University of Northampton archives is an important step in not just preserving local voices and experiences, but also in highlighting an understudied and too often ignored part of our communities and their history. Oral history, people telling the story of the past through their own experiences, is an important and compelling part of understanding our society. It is hard not to be moved when you hear, in their own words, the stories of how people have experienced discrimination in the past, but also how our society has changed. In making this collection available to our students and to the public we create the opportunity for lessons to be learnt and help improve our local community.”
Siobhan Tatum is pictured handing over the Race 40 Act project to the University’s Records Manager, Phil Oakman, centre, and Dan Jones.