The display of over 50 photographs in a montage and a short film draws attention to the forgotten story of the Maroons who refused to be enslaved, survived in remote parts of the Caribbean islands and helped destabilise the plantation system. Even today they live in close communities independent from the government.
The project is the brainchild of hip hop photographer, Jennie Baptiste, who guided a group of six young Londoners who call themselves the Linx, teaching them research, communications and photography skills. The group of 14 to 19 year olds then researched the history of African resistance to slavery and visited the Maroons in the town of Accompong in the Jamaican mountains to take the photographs.
Linx member and 19 year old art student, Asia Bharj, said: “Never in my life did I think I would be part of this amazing project, being with the Linx I overcame personal challenges which allowed me to grow mentally and to become a better person.”
Director of the Museum in Docklands, David Spence said: “Our London, Sugar & Slavery gallery was designed with the flexibility to allow members of the public to put a spotlight on part of the story they think is important through displays they’ve created. This inspiring project gives young people a chance to speak to others visiting the gallery in their own style and language.”
Curator, Jennie Baptiste, said: “This project has sparked an interest among the public in the Maroons and the whole issue of slavery and how it shapes our lives today. It’s been very educational for the young people involved and they have learnt so much through things like visiting libraries, plantations and the Maroon community. It’s also been empowering for them to be called on to speak about their experiences to a wider audience. The positive feedback that we’ve had both in Jamaica and the UK has been overwhelming.”
Natasha Reynolds is a Senior Youth Participation Worker with Brent Council’s Youth Service, which funded the project. She says: “The Linx has done a fantastic job in raising awareness of a previously little-known part of black history and they should be really proud of themselves. Brent Council is proud to be able to support a project which is going to educate and inform people for many years to come.”