Celebrating Our Black Heroes: The story of John Archer

Battersea Arts Centre

Heritage Grants

London
Black Heroes Foundation
£10000
The Black Heroes Foundation staged a short play at Battersea Arts Centre about John Archer, the first Black Mayor of London, elected in 1913.

The Black Heroes Foundation is a community-based organisation that uses the arts to tell the stories of Black heroes to enlighten, educate and empower people. It received £10,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to stage a play that tells the story of John Archer, the first Black mayor of Battersea and the city of London.

John Archer's incredible story came to life thanks to the words of Sean Creighton, biographer of John Archer, the performance by David Neita and the direction of Dr Anni Domingo.

The play The Story of John Archer was created to inspire new generations to share the stories of their 'heroes' and to connect multigenerational audiences. 

More than 120 local schoolchildren participated in workshops at Wandsworth Libraries during September 2021 where they created playlets, art, videos and poems inspired by the life of John Archer. 

The project then travelled to Fairfield Hall in Croydon where Windrush Elders joined in Reminiscence Sessions: activities that incorporate reggae soul and Jamaican folk music. Having dance and music as part of the sessions promoted exercise and led to greater wellbeing among the elderly and London's retired Afro-Caribbean community. The play came to Battersea Arts Centre, the building where John Archer worked as mayor, during Black History Month 2021.

"Working on this project has been a great experience. I have really enjoyed the research and I realise that there is so much more we can do to get these amazing stories out to the public. The reaction by the audience has been encouraging and spurs me on to do much more."

Dr Anni Domingo

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