Bernardine Evaristo rightly points out how black women artists, writers and actresses are finally catching the public’s attention (“They’re totally stoned!” Bernardine Evaristo on the artistic triumph of older black women, April 28). But the belated recognition of black women’s role in the arts and as uncompromising “troublemakers” in the UK must go back at least a generation. For example, Trinidad-born Pearl Prescod was the first black actress at the National Theatre, in Olivier’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in 1965. In 1963, with Claudia Jones and other black performers, 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 a singer, actress, writer and organizer. However, she is only part of an entire generation of the 1950s and 1960s that should not be forgotten and erased from history.
Coordinator, IRR Black History Collection
Bernardine Evaristo rightly draws attention to black women working in the arts. Sadly, there was no mention of Sharon Walters, who through her series of collages Seeing Ourselves explores the underrepresentation of black women in the arts and heritage and mainstream media sectors. His work can be seen at the Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham.