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Camden Spotlight

The Pitt Lecture 2024

Deeply moving account of the UK care system and young Black peoples experience
Four people arm in arm smiling at the camera on stage, behind the screen shows a picture of Lord Pitt and words say 'The Pitt Lecture 2024 in Camden'
An inspiring, emotional and powerful evening

Lord David Pitt dedicated his life to medicine and politics, tenaciously fighting against racism and discrimination. He significantly contributed to changes to legislation on Race Relations and was the first black parliamentary candidate in the UK, standing as the candidate for Hampstead. 

This year we worked with The British Library to host the second annual Lord Pitt Lecture, launching our Windrush 2024 season. The event, a significant moment in Camden's cultural calendar, celebrating the rich heritage and contributions of the Windrush generation. 

Opened by Emma Morgan, the British Library’s Head of Community Learning who highlighted the role the British Library plays in preserving history through the Sound Library the largest collection of recorded sound in the world and holds content from the Windrush generation as well as celebrating the exhibition Beyond the Baseline: 500 Years of Black British Music.

Hosted by Brenda Emmanus OBE, this year's event explored equality for young people in care, with a keynote delivered by poet, playwright, and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and a panel discussion with Lavinya Stennett CEO of The Black Curriculum who both shared personal reflections on their experiences of growing up as Black children in the UK care system. Emelia Kenlock gave personal and insightful reflections on Lord David Pitt’s legacy through the eyes of her father, Neil Kenlock OBE, a celebrated photographer who documented the lives and experiences of the African and Caribbean communities in Britain during the 70s and was honoured to have photographed Lord Pitt at his home.  

It was a deeply moving and personal account of the UK care system and how young people in particular Black children's experience the care system. The discussion also covered the importance of teaching Black history in the curriculum, particularly for those young Black people in care (who may be placed with white families) to understand better colonialism and the contributions of the black community to the UK throughout history. 

The evening drew to a close with a reflection on David Pitts activism and campaigning for equality and the impact this has had on the work that Lavinya and Lemn have been doing to fight for the rights of young people in care and through the education system.

Lemn was captivating, filling the room with energy, laughter and hope. His words were extremely powerful, emotional and optimistic. It gave an insight into the literary and other worlds of Lemn Sissy. The dialogue between Lemn, Lavinya and Brenda was so warm, open and heart-felt. The whole evening was truly inspiring. One key takeaway was the importance of human connection.