Black History Month Community Spotlight - Andre Reid
Andre is a designer living in Walsall and is Founding Director of KIONDO.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is not just for Black people. Although I don’t believe we should limit conversations around the Black experience to one month, I see this month as an opportunity for other cultures to deeply investigate and learn about African and Caribbean experiences. Historically, Black History Month has tended to focus on the stories of the Black diaspora rather than Black excellence including but not limited to the Caribbean, African and Black people from other parts of the globe. Science tells us that the first human beings on the planet were black and we are all influenced by Black culture, Black history and Black achievements in many ways. This is a time of appreciation, celebration and reflection on how we relate and build with one another.
What does it mean to you to be Black and British?
People often mark the British Black experience with Windrush, but from the Black Britons who left their impression on our way of life in 16th Century Tudor Britain to composers like Samuel Coleridge Taylor, my ancestors form an important thread to the tapestry that is our collective history.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by the everyday Black family which navigates a world full of discrimination yet continues to persevere and thrive. People like, Bintou Jagne, a Gambian Black British Accountant who has established a prominent Accountancy practice within the West-Midlands and continues to raise her daughters in the ways of business practice. Another is Tope Awotona, a Nigerian born American Black man who founded Calendly, a simple scheduling app, which has transformed the process of organising meetings around your calendar.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
I have set up an exciting new arts venue in the middle of Walsall called Blank Canvas. It is a town that I love and now call home. Despite our recent challenges, both social and economic as well as a paralysing pandemic, Walsall has an exciting and promising future in which all of its communities will play a part in building. I am privileged to be part of this journey and hope that others will join me in realising this vision.
What do you think would make Walsall a better place?
By turning negativity into positivity and building an abundance mindset. People talk about this great town down too much. It has masses of untapped potential and this needs its visionaries, its thinkers and its creatives to collaborate for the sake of our future generations.