New Exhibition Celebrates Black Culture and Excellence in Leeds

An inspirational Leeds basketball coach who was back on the court just weeks after having his leg amputated is amongst the incredible people featured in a new collection of portraits celebrating the city’s black culture.

Former basketball player Norman ‘Too Tall’ Francis is head coach at Leeds City College and Leeds Let’s Do More (LDM) Basketball and has encouraged generations of young people get into the sport over the decades.

Norman is one of 10 inspirational figures from the black community in Leeds who will take centre stage in a new portrait gallery curated by Leeds-based events company Boomchikkaboom and Sable, a black-led creative studios and production company.

Basketball coach Norman ‘Too Tall’ Francis

The portraits will be on display at White Rose and Trinity Leeds from Saturday, October 7th until the end of October, and also includes 11-year-old Leeds gymnast Neo Fowler, who has been making waves in the sports community after being selected as part of the Yorkshire and National Men’s Squad, as well as the GB Foundation Squad last year.

More portraits showcased in the gallery include:

  • Dr Xina Gooding Broderick – Executive Leadership Coach and Funeral Parlour Owner, who shares her skills as a mother and successful businesswoman to inspire and support others to fulfilling their potential

  • Stephanie Amor – Co-founder of Afro Leads, an online platform that celebrates and promote Black British business and culture.

  • Khadijah Ibrahiim – Literary activist, theatre maker, writer, and founder of Leeds Young Authors

  • Fluid Irie – Host, DJ and activist, and youth worker and carer

  • Sheila Howarth – Pastoral manager at Leeds City Academy, Manager at Leeds Playhouse, and board member for Leeds West Indian Carnival, who was named Leeds’ Most Inspiring Teacher

  • MC Daddy Speedo – Musician, hip hop artist and performer

  • Marvina Eseoghene Newton – Founder of Black Boy Joy (Speak Up Leeds), and Advancing Health Equality Specialist (Culturally Diverse Children, Young People, Families & communities)

  • Marcia Brown – Interdisciplinary artist and teacher

Faye Kenny, founder of Boomchikkaboom, said: “This is a Leeds-centric celebration of black culture and excellence, and a chance to promote education and awareness during Black History Month. Whilst we celebrate the amazing and important achievements that have been made throughout the city’s history, we are also showcasing today’s movers and shakers of Leeds who are a treasured part of the community and continue to do incredible work and inspire others.”

Gymnast Neo Fowler, aged 11

In addition to the portrait gallery, during Black History Month, the shopping centres will host the Mahogany Market, which provides a platform for black-owned businesses. The market will include sweet treats from Rae of Sunshine Events, fashion boutique Ebony Milestone, braid specialist Hair by Rhonda, Ghanaian family-run brand Buy Makola, and festival glitter from Boomchikkaboom.

Mahogany Market founder Rachael Mills said: “The Mahogany Market is all about supporting black-led local businesses and giving them a platform. Hosting the event this weekend, on October 7th also coincides with ‘Black Pound Day’ – the first Saturday of each month when people are encouraged to spend their money locally or online at black-led businesses. We’d encourage everyone to get involved and show their support for these fantastic local businesses – not only for Black History Month but all-year-round.”

The Mahogany Market will be held on Saturday October 7th at White Rose’s Central Atrium, and Trinity Leeds on Sunday October 22nd, on the bridge link between ROX and Next.

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