Race Relations and Archives

For the past couple of months or so, I’ve been enjoying some consultancy work for the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre‘s archives. It’s been pretty amazing.

A part of Archives+ (a kind of heritage hub in Manchester’s Central Library that is a brilliant idea) they brought all their archives with them when they moved to Central Library. The archives they wanted a hand with were their institutional archives: that of the Centre and that of the Trust. I was thrilled to be brought on board. I adore the Centre and the Trust for the work they do and was more than happy to help.

If you haven’t been introduced to the Centre or Trust yet, here’s the basics.

The Centre, then called the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Archive, was established in 1999 within Manchester University by Professor Louis Kushnick. Its aim was to be a leading resource on race relations in the UK, promoting tolerance, education and understanding within Greater Manchester. It’s namesake, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, was a Burnage High School student murdered by a fellow pupil on his school playground, for speaking up for his classmates who were victims of racial abuse at the school.

So, with a pretty extensive collection of letters of support and a lot of passion, Kushnick set up the Race Relations Archive within the University. It collected material for the archive as well as started to bring this information into schools in Greater Manchester.

It was soon decided that the work with schools could be branched out further and that it would be more useful to set up a separate charity to do it. So, in 2001, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust was born.

The Trust started working on raising the profile of diverse heritage in schools but working with schools and especially the school children to explore their own cultural heritage and showcase and highlight it at school through projects. This was a huge success and they pretty much haven’t stopped since. Oral history projects have branched out from being focused on schools to involving entire communities such as the fantastic Yemeni Roots, Salford Lives project and the ongoing Legacy of Ahmed project.

It was really wonderful to be able to help them by weeding, organising, cataloguing and preserving their two collections. It was even better to know that these collections would grow and be added to as the Centre and Trust continued with their fantastic work (something I took into account when structuring the catalogue and making it as easy as possible to navigate and add to).

It’s brilliant timing, too, as in a couple of weeks I’ll be heading off to the British Library to attend a symposium “Archives Into the Future” by Performing the Jewish Archive and Antislavery Usable Past. The day will look at how archives can be used to impact human rights campaigning now, especially in the Third World. If the AIU is a testament to anything, it’s how heritage and archives can have a positive impact on human rights in the present and set the right path for continued tolerance in the future. (Look out for the blog about that day in a few weeks).

I’m looking forward to future collaborations with AIU but in the meantime, check out their incredible work so far, visit the Centre in Central Library and, if you’re in the business of education, definitely get in touch with them to find out how you can work together.

 

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