Nottingham has plenty of things to be proud of. Our roots being one of them; history is so deeply embedded in many of the things that we all love about this city. But the narrative isn’t fully complete. Historian Norma Gregory has spent the past few years unearthing the untold stories of several black coal miners who lived and worked in the UK.
We spoke to her about her new exhibition, Digging Deep: Coal Miners of African Carribean Heritage which features photos, audio recordings and oral histories that have previously been left unheard…
Tell us a little bit about the exhibition…
The exhibition is currently at The National Coalmining Museum in Wakefield. It’s been a multi-level, multi-pronged, all-hands-involved project. We have interviewed over 67 miners in total so far – we have a database of over 200 names, and that’s all come from word of mouth.
We found that most coronary records were disposed of following the strikes, so there’s hardly any in-depth personnel records. We’ve had put the word out through the radio and television to get people thinking. Those involved have donated artefacts, letters and photos of miners and their families. It’s been a national effort and it is ongoing.
The initial challenge was being told that there were no black miners – I had one in my family, so I knew there was. It’s about challenging the narrative of a white-dominated profession. I don’t even think I’ve scraped the ice on it yet, and I’ve been looking at black history for 25 years. My purpose is to use my time to help preserve history, regardless of race, to make history richer and more honest. I think that’s what people want, especially young people – they won’t tolerate anything less.
For the rest of this interview: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2019/november/norma-gregory-black-miners-history-exhibition/