Ansel Wong CBE, a political activist, cultural historian and community leader, is the new chair of the board of trustees of Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives.
He will work with exiting trustees and BCA staff who are developing a strategy to secure the future of the Windrush Square establishment which has required financial support from Lambeth council in the past.
Born in Trinidad and living in the UK since 1960s, Ansel Wong is the former chair of the Notting Hill Carnival Trust and co-founder of Elimu Mas Band.
He was a prominent campaigner to have October designated as Black History Month in the UK and also serves on the Windrush Commemoration Committee.
Wong is also an academic and i has worked at senior levels in the public and charitable sectors.
Dawn Hill CBE, the current BCA chair, will stand down at BCA’s AGM when Wong will take up the post on Monday 28 January.
Hill has played a leading role in setting up and running the BCA governance since 1981 when she worked alongside its founding chair, Len Garrison. She became chair of the charity in 2012.
She chaired the first Heritage Lottery Fund resourced project, Archives and Museum of Black Heritage, in partnership with Middlesex University.
This established a basis for the Raleigh Hall capital development project, which she chaired from 2005. Raleigh Hall on Windrush Square was restored and converted for use as the BCA.
This gave the charity its first bricks and mortar home, its national heritage centre opened in 2014.
The BCA said she has “been steadfast in putting BCA on a strong organisational path and is confident of its growing success”.
She leads the BCA initiative to aid victims of the Windrush Scandal through free legal surgeries in partnership with McKenzie Beute and Pope immigration lawyers.
“Her leadership has invaluably helped BCA create a strong foundation for the future,” the charity said.
Ansel Wong said: “This year feels like a sea change in the development and momentum of the Black communities in the UK.
“The BCA is part of this reawakening and I am both proud and delighted to have been entrusted with building on the foundation created by Dawn Hill and her directors and leading the BCA on its journey to achieve its mission and, for me, be the first port of call to access, learn and celebrate the Black presence in the UK.
BCA managing director Arike Oke said: “From a strong field of candidates for the chair role, Ansel stood out.
“He is the perfect person to take BCA into the future, as a thriving community resource, an influential national archive, and on to international renown for our mission to preserve, document and celebrate the histories of people of African descent in the UK.
“Dawn Hill has contributed indelibly to BCA and I’m indebted to her guidance and support to date. I’m excited to work with Ansel in the next phase of BCA’s journey.”
Dawn Hill said: “I played a part, with the support of many others, as I had an overwhelming belief that the history of Black people and their contribution to the UK had to be preserved, promoted and celebrated.
“I am proud to be leaving BCA as a successful organisation and have every confidence that Ansel will be a brilliant chair.”
The BCA is the home of Black British History, conceived in 1981 as a monument to hold space for the histories of people from across the African diaspora in British culture and history.
Its mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK and to inspire and give strength to individuals, communities and society.
Its Windrush Square HQ organises gallery exhibitions, education programmes and public engagement events. Access to its unique archives, museum objects and reference library is free.