Harlow anti-racism group ‘rename’ the Rhodes Arts Complex the Felix Cobson Arts Complex

Education: Secondary / Thu 11th Jun 2020 at 08:43am

ALONG with other Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) groups across the country, SUTR Harlow ‘took the knee’ at 6 O’ clock on Wednesday evening.

About 12 people from Harlow carried out this action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement outside the entrance to the Rhodes Arts Complex in Bishops Stortford.

The group was joined at the Arts centre by a similar number of people from Bishops Stortford, some of whom have been involved in petitioning and negotiating with the Rhodes Birthplace Trust to change the name of the arts complex.

Among these were representatives from local churches, one of whom timed the ‘taking the knee’ for the 8 minutes, 46 seconds that a police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis before he died. The minister suggested we spent that time in silent prayer or reflection. Following this there were speeches.

A spokesperson from SUTR Harlow spoke about the history of Cecil Rhodes who lived in the second half of the 19th century and gave his name to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) who was a colonialist, imperialist and racist who believed in the supremacy of the ‘Anglo Saxon race’. Hitler was an admirer of Rhodes and the speaker pointed out that if buildings and streets were named after Hitler the council would be quick to change it. She put forward an alternative name for the centre from the SUTR group but said it had personal significance for her as she had been taught by Felix Cobson in the 1960s at Burnt Mill School.

He taught art at the school, specifically fabric printing using techniques of screen printing with dyes and wax resist (batik). Mr Cobson, originally from Ghana also carried out workshops in local schools, teaching children about African drumming and other aspects of African culture. In the 1970s he set up an African village, Aklowa, in the village of Takeley near Bishops Stortford. He bought an old vicarage and used the grounds to create the village.

People visited the village from the 1970s to learn traditional crafts such as hair braiding, to learn about African history and to watch and particpate in displays of African drumming and music. There are films available online from the BFI (British Film Institute) showing some of the workshops in local schools and at the village and an interview with Mr Cobson.After this speech there were contributions from other participants, two of whom remembered having been taught by Felix Cobson and remembering what an inspirational teacher he was.


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19 Comments for Harlow anti-racism group ‘rename’ the Rhodes Arts Complex the Felix Cobson Arts Complex:

2020-06-11 09:49:22

I am not kneeling for nobody.

2020-06-11 10:30:58

No knighthood for you then.

2020-06-11 10:36:21

Perhaps these people should note this George Orwell quote which i think is very apt.... “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

2020-06-11 10:56:22

Like Sir Kier you mean, no thanks all the same.

2020-06-11 11:09:20

It`s almost as though people are using the lurgy and BLM to hinder Brexit! No, what am I saying, nobody would sink so low.

2020-06-11 11:30:08

Outrageous! What did Felix Cobson give to the world teaching people to play bongo drums? Certainly didn't build cities, and towns and schools in which to educate people.Like it or not,much of the world has been built on slavery and the profits from it.But it's history, get over it.

2020-06-11 12:16:14

These so called do-gooders who wish to change society, would be better off raising the question, as to why the majority of murders in this country, and USA, are black youth's against black youth's. Is this racism ? A man from Somalia killed by several black youth's from ? The police force set up a specific crime force, Trident to try and bring about a stop, it doesn't stop, week in week out.

2020-06-11 12:34:51

The mental gymnastics that can somehow justify honouring an imperialist and racist as somehow being better than a teacher is surely just one example as to what these protests are all about. Using history as an excuse is utter nonsense. This right wing government used austerity extremism as an excuse to shut down 800 libraries, annihilate funding for museums, and trash public investment in history departments and history education at every level of the education system. Where was the defense of history then? Surely it is time to stop bestowing any sort of honour on those who were racist and profited from salvery? Felix Cobson obviously had a far more positive impact on society than any colonialist, imperialist and racist. It is far, far better to teach people to play bongo drums than to subjugate other human beings simply on account of the colour of their skin.

2020-06-11 13:18:23

We dont need bongos we got mobiles now.

2020-06-11 14:42:18

Talk about Lefty hypocrisy, kthe5 is absolutely loaded with it. All the Marxist cranks that enjoyed a university education, due to the wealth of this nation are now screaming that we're all racists. What's your excuse kthe5 ?

2020-06-11 14:45:00

Are we going to tear down and allow vandalism to occur to any statue of white historic figures and replace with those of Nelson Mandela? a terrorist murderer. Or despots like Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe? who subjugated and murdered thousands for their sole benefit and left people in absolute poverty. All these virtue signallers should hang their heads in shame at their behaviour.

2020-06-11 15:13:50

Never mind eh ! Coming out of the EU soon, all the protesters squeals are in vain, at least it's something to look forward to. Rule Brittania.

2020-06-11 18:37:54

"Boris" Johnson, with his letterboxes, watermellon smiles and pickaninnies may claim that Britian is not a racist country, but it is clear that is false. Once again the far right attempts to defend the undefendable with nonsence "whataboutery". Proof that Brexit was for some at least about race is clearly evident by the pathetic attempts to derail and distract. Please, do carry on defending the glorification of a racist. Use childish name calling if that is what will give you your pathetic dopamine kick. There are still some people who find the memorialisation of slave traders and fascist sympathisers abhorrent and disturbing. Keep spouting absolute bollocks if it makes you feel better. Whats next? Will it be justification of Michael Gove, proudly displaying the work of the Holocaust-denier David Irving? No, that's already been justified as 'required reading actually'. Keep defending the undefendable and keep showing that all SUTR groups are doing the right thing.

2020-06-12 05:06:18

As you said earlier kthe5, a difference of opinion, but, you're always wrong, saucy, but still wrong.

2020-06-12 06:39:27

Boycott the pyramids next..

2020-06-12 12:42:54

tog147 Everyone is entitled to their opinion re this proposal, however it’s worth doing some research before making derogatory statements like yours. Felix throughout his life contributed to multiculturalism in this country. He was a respected advisory member of various important institutions such as the Commonwealth Institute and Arts Council. He helped shape many cultural aspects of this country from multi cultural awareness in schools to Womad festivals, and in doing so brought employment and much revenue to this country. He was undoubtedly an important figure in the development of the rich cultural diversity we can be proud of in this country. He was offered an OBE for his services, however he passed away before he could accept. Now tell me...what have you contributed?

2020-06-13 05:26:28

Get YOUR facts right 1947t. Womad was conceived by Peter Gabriel, Tommy Brooman and others in 1980. The first festival was in Shepton Mallet in 1982.

2020-06-13 11:45:56

Aha I see the racist knuckleheads are out in force. They're clearly rattled by the idea that their rotten ideas and nasty little bigotries are on the back foot :)

2020-06-15 09:54:29

It's about time all the bleeding heart liberals and commies realised that multiculturalism is a failed experiment inflicted on us by left wing governments in an attempt to capture votes from immigrants. I'm not remotely interested in african culture; female genital mutilation, breast flattening, circumcision with tin lids, not anything i want to associate myself with. This rich cultural diversity is the very thing fuelling unrest because immigrants won't accept the status quo in countries that they decamp to.

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