Stephen Small

Liverpool
I started attending the Black-E in the early 1970s. My earliest memory was the sound of soul music.It was just great to listen to and it made me feel happy, as a teenager. Peter Eyo was on the door during the disco nights. To be honest there was not many places like the Blackie in Liverpool and it played a major part in my younger years.
Going to the Black-E in those days saw us as Black kids all together. It gave me a sense of pride and also comfort in a safe environment. The building acted as a catalyst for personal development and created a feeling of unity. You have to remember that this was a time when racism was an everyday thing, in Liverpool.
All this had a direct influence on my life, inspiring me to aim higher and set goals. I became aware that every day would not present obstacles due to racism. It gave me confidence and enabled me to pursue my dreams and realise them. There is no doubt The Blackie was an educational experience and an integral part of my upbringing.
Despite the years and the miles that I have travelled I still remain part of a solid family network. I am proud to be part of a close knit family with my brothers, sisters,uncles and aunties. It makes me feel proud and gives me joy. It also mitigates against the view that all families from Liverpool 8 are dysfunctional.
I will always be proud of going to the University of Kent after finishing secondary school. I eventually completed my MSc (Master of Social Science) and a Phd in Sociology. Not only did it give me self satisfaction but my family were over the moon and supported me throughout my education.
I have fulfilled my ambitions to travel. I have been to Africa (Ghana/Zimbabwe) and the Caribbean (Jamaica/Trinidad/Tobago). This opened my mind and showed me new realities as well as making me new friends across the world. Books taught me a lot but travel has made me richer in thought.