Manny Uchegbu

I made many good life-long friends from my Blackie days, both Black and White. We always knew that we would clash with white guys on our way back, but despite this the Blackie remained our meeting point. I cannot remember any trouble amongst ourselves. The place was an inspiration to me since I had always been interested in diverse arts.
The Sunday disco was the best in the city. Radio Doom played American imports and tunes we all loved. Every- body dressed to impress. The new dances, the colours, James Brown “Say It Loud” would be ringing in my ears. We'd walk home up Duke Street,or Upper Parliament Street, either way ended up with fish and chips from Berkley St.
The Blackie gave me the opportunity to meet the Jackson Five and invited me to the Lat Poets'workshop. Even though I was in my forties the Blackie never forgot me. They gave me support when they could, despite struggling financially themselves. I got my photographic skills from the Blackie and the use of video. I am indebted to the staff and volunteers.
We established an Arts and Cultural Centre in Grove Street in Liverpool 8. There was no doubt the centre was influenced by the Blackie, who supported our programme. We provided a mix of arts activities for youth. The Blackie staff had taught us that there were different ways to achieve your objectives.
My work with the Black Media Group saw the publication of “Black Links” a newsletter on issues in the Black community. We produced “They Haven’t Done Nothing” a documentary giving a grass-roots perspective on the aftermath of the 1981 riots. It was screened on Channel 4, stimulating debate across the country.
I will always cherish my involvement in the original Caribbean Carnivals. Then, Carnival was like a community get-together, you would meet people you had not seen for years. It was the type of community atmosphere that is missing today in Liverpool 8. I still exhibit photographs of the 1981 riots and Liverpool’s Black community.