Richard Clarke is Director of One Love Community Music and Arts CIC / Expressions Coffee Shop.
A resident in Walsall for over 35 years of African Caribbean descent and a Youth and Community worker for over 30 years working with young people defined as hard to reach. Established a Charity known as the Multimedia Arts Project (The MAP) which operated across the Black Country with young people at risk of exclusion from mainstream school, using music and the creative Arts as an engagement tool.
In the past two years, I established a Coffee shop known as Expressions for people suffering from depression, anxiety, social isolation, loneliness, and mental health issues, again using the Creative Arts as a means for intervention under the banner of One Love Community Music and Arts CIC.
Black History Month is an important time to raise the awareness of the black community’s achievement from past to present and to remind people of our ongoing presence and our work in the local area.
As an individual, I am proud to be Black and British here in the UK and especially pleased with the many opportunities that have presented themselves over many years to both integrate and serve our wider community.
I am inspired by many black icons, musically, creatively, and inspirationally but mainly by Nelson Mandela who recognised that fighting injustice and perseverance was an ongoing battle which would require time and patience, forgiveness, and commitment to achieve change.
I hope that in the future, my children will not feel the fear of walking into new situations where the colour of their skin is treated with unwelcome looks of trepidation.
Walsall needs to develop a more sustainable drive to help communities integrate with each other, we still have significant numbers of the community who do not interact with other cultures and we need to find ways of bridging that gap/divide.