New publication lacunhed to mark Black History Month with Foreword by Mayor of Penzance

28th October 2020 in Council News, Penzance

The visit of a leading Black Civil Rights campaigner to 1920s Cornwall is explored in a new book entitled Dispatches from Penzance and published by the Institute of Cornish Studies in association with Cornish Story.

The foreword to the book is written by Cllr Nicole Broadhurst, Mayor of Penzance, who noted that Rogers’s time in Penwith was, for him, a welcome respite from the atmosphere of race hate that was prevalent in the US at the time.

“As a black man he found it liberating to be able to wander down streets and not be abused and vilified for his colour. As an incomer and a black woman, I had a similar, if not so extreme, experience.

“This book shows that the people of Penzance, then and now, are a sensible and welcoming community.”

Written by Dr Madeleine Midgley, a former postgraduate student at the University of Exeter, the book looks at issues of Cornish ‘Race Relations’ in relation to African American Historiography.

Joel Augustus Rogers

In 1925, Joel Augustus Rogers (1880-1966), Black American journalist/war correspondent, historian, novelist and civil rights campaigner, sailed from New York to Plymouth on the first leg of a European tour.

Before travelling to London, Rogers headed for Penzance and the far west of Cornwall. His experience, documented in a contemporary series of articles for the African American press, was to inform his internationally influential philosophy of race relations. Rogers’s observations on exclusion, acceptance and marginality at home and abroad during the inter-war years provide a unique perspective on Cornwall, its people and their attitudes towards the ‘Other’.

Dispatches from Penzance is the first volume in the Fordhow Nowydh series that attempts to open up new avenues of research in Cornish Studies. Dr Garry Tregidga, editor of the series and co-director of the University of Exeter’s Institute of Cornish Studies, commented that Madeleine Midgley is to be congratulated on writing an account that captures the historical atmosphere of the 1920s.

“Her detailed research and sensitive handling of the sources provides fresh insight into Cornwall’s connection to African American historiography and it is appropriate that it should be published in a year when race is such a prominent issue at the global level.”   

Dispatches from Penzance: J.A. Rogers and the Place of Cornish  ‘Race Relations’ in African American Historiography launches on Friday 30th October 2020 to coincide with Black History Month. For further details please email [email protected] at the Institute of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus.

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