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Southwark’s residents celebrate the launch of Una Marson Library

7 February 2024

The first public library named after a black woman has officially opened its doors this week. The Una Marson Library opens amid nationwide library closures and marks the latest milestone in the ongoing redevelopment of the Aylesbury area.

The library’s launch was marked with a community event attended by esteemed broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur, June Sarpong, OBE, and Southwark Council Leader, Councillor Kieron Williams.

The celebration featured performances by the Walworth Academy Steel Pan Band, as well as captivating poetry readings and talks from Jenny Mitchell, India Jones-Aryeh, Stephen Bourne, Rosa-Johan Uddoh and, Curtis Brown.

Una Marson Library

The library pays homage to Una Marson, a revered Southwark heroine hailed for her contributions to the literary world and as the first Black woman programme maker at the BBC.

Leader of Southwark Council, Councillor Kieron Williams, said: “We are proud to open the first public library in the country named after a black woman. Una Marson led an incredible life and I hope her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. 

“Whether you are one or ninety one, it is a wonderful space to learn, relax, and enjoy, and is the sixth new library we have opened in Southwark since 2010."

Una Marson, a Jamaican-born feminist, arrived in the UK in 1932 where she was helped by Dr Harold Moody, another of Southwark’s great Black activists, who offered her a room at his family home on the Queen’s Road in Peckham. It was during the Second World War that Una became the BBC’s first Black programme maker. She broadcasted messages from servicemen and women in England, to their friends and families in the Caribbean, in her popular weekly series: Calling the West Indies. In 2009 a Blue Plaque was unveiled at her former home on Brunswick Square in Camberwell.

Page last updated: 07 February 2024

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