Becky Sikasa

Musician to host cultural conversations as legacy of abolitionist campaigner’s inspiring words during visits to Paisley are highlighted in new attraction

Renfrewshire’s rich cultures will be celebrated in a series of events to inspire, inform and transform stereotypes as part of Black History Month.

Matt Hickman

Musicians and historians are among those supporting a packed programme during October, aimed at forging stronger cultural connections across the region.

An alliance of organisations – working with Renfrewshire Leisure – is spearheading the work, with events for all ages.

Building on the success of becoming involved in the awareness-raising month for the first time last year, the majority of events will be broadcast via Renfrewshire Leisure’s RenTV channel, Jambo! Radio and social media.

Among the events planned are a service of cultural conversations between musician Matt Hickman, from the indie-rock band Brownbear, and special guests including songwriter Becky Sikasa, singer-songwriter and Jambo! founder George Tah Meh. They will focus on the importance of music and culture for the black, indiginous and other people of colour (BPOC) communities and how race can affect their role within the industry.

There will also be the launch of the Frederick Douglas Google Map walking tour in Paisley. 

Becky Sikasa

The 3km loop is the first in a series of walking tours to be unveiled over the next year as part of the Heritage on Your Doorstep Project, funded by Museums Galleries Scotland. It includes five locations where Frederick Douglass, the influential abolitionist campaigner, gave speeches in Paisley, heavily influencing public opinion.

Black History Month events in Renfrewshire are being organised by The Ethnic Communities Cultural Steering Group, an alliance which co-produces, programmes, and curates work relevant to the region’s ethnic community. Among those involved are School of African Cultures, Inspiring Families, Jambo! Radio, Action For Culture and Ethics, Kairos+, University of the West of Scotland, Engage Renfrewshire, Sewing2gether All Nations and Renfrewshire Leisure’s Cultural Services team.

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “Our programme of events to mark Black History Month will be both inspiring and informative. We are extremely proud of what the steering group is achieving.

“We believe strongly that the rich cultures which make up the communities of modern Renfrewshire should be celebrated. There is no place for ignorance, inequality or racism in our communities. These events highlight that, showing how our region is a better place because of the diversity of our communities, while also shining a spotlight on some of the issues that people face.

“This will be an enlightening programme that I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved with. Our thanks to all who have committed to it already.”

Other events planned included:

  • The launch of a podcast series by students at the University of the West of Scotland, focusing on the power of stories and storytelling to disrupt stereotypes to advance equality. This is based on a ‘Human Library’ approach focusing on the theme ‘Proud to Be’.
  • Sunday Continental: A brunchtime boogie for people of all ages with tunes from some great Scottish musicians.
  • The presentation of highlights from the Pen Pals project, which has forged connections between children of African heritage and those from Syrian migrant families.
  • A Black History Month-themed book display in Paisley Central Library and a promotion of influential authors on the Renfrewshire Libraries website.
  • The promotion of partner programmes, including Kairos Women+, who are producing a Kairos Chronicle Black History Month Special in October 2021 with articles celebrating black lives in Renfrewshire and beyond.

The programme is funded by support from Future Paisley and Engage Renfrewshire.

Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Renfrewshire’s Black History Month programme, which is a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration.

“We know that diversity enriches communities. The Ethnic Cultural Steering Group is an inspiring alliance, bringing people of all cultures and backgrounds together in the same way that the events planned over the next month will.

“The pandemic has shown us how important it is to work together, and at Engage we will continue to support community partnerships and collaborative working, because this is what makes communities stronger. We’re very excited to be supporting the Black History Month programme – it reflects our commitment to championing equality, diversity and inclusivity in our local communities.”

For full details about the Black History Month programme of events in Renfrewshire, go to