Name: Joyce Fraser
Rotary Club: Bromley, Greater London
Joyce Fraser is a member of Bromley Rotary Club, and in February she was presented with an OBE for her work with the Black Heroes Foundation, which was set up by her late husband, Flip Fraser.
The investiture took place at Windsor Castle in January heralding a busy year with plans to stage a theatre production entitled ‘The story of Flip Fraser – A Windrush story’.
The production marks 75 years since the ship the ‘Empire Windrush’ docked at Tilbury Docks with one of the first large groups of post-war Caribbean settlers. The play is due to be performed at Battersea Arts Centre in June as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe Festival.
Black Heroes Foundation was your husband’s idea – how did it come about?
Peter Randolph Fraser, aka Flip Fraser, created the iconic show Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame in the late 1980s. It was the first show of its kind, during the era of Black History Month being launched in the UK. Its tag line was “5,000 years of history in one night of theatre”.
Twenty years later it was still performing, with a huge international following. The era of Facebook arrived, and in 2013 Flip set up the Facebook page for ‘Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame’ which he named the Black Heroes Foundation.
His vision was a concept that involved much more than the stage show. It was about going into the community, working with schools and universities, running workshops and putting on exhibitions. Unfortunately, Flip passed away in 2014. On the call of people at his funeral, I decided to preserve his legacy and in 2016 launched the charity the Black Heroes Foundation (BHF) to fulfil his vision.
The very fact that I am a member of the Rotary Club in Bromley is an outcome of the club’s efforts to be more inclusive and embrace diverse cultures.”
What is the Foundation all about?
What is the Foundation all about? We bring joy, confidence and pride by using the arts to tell the stories of Black Heroes to entertain, educate and empower people.
The Black Heroes Foundation (BHF) is a community-based organisation for the development and promotion of talent, together with cultural and artistic initiatives in the community focusing on youth, education, training, personal development, health and well-being, and social mobility.
We seek to develop cultural awareness and recognition of black achievement, promoting a world where black heroes are acknowledged, respected and celebrated. We seek to improve the provision of cultural experiences which develop self-knowledge, self-esteem, confidence, well-being, pride and empowerment of the black community through positive engagement with black culture, art and identity.
The raising of awareness is not just for black people but also for everyone else to learn, acknowledge and celebrate the richness black people have brought to
What impact do you think the Black Heroes Foundation has made?
Using art and entertainment, BHF connects and engages a varied and diverse audience expanding their thinking, widening their perspective and expanding their knowledge of black history and the impact it has had and is having on the world and world history.
Here are some events and activities we have created and delivered:
- Work with schools in Wandsworth and Southwark engaging over 500 children.
- Work with Windrush generation and provision of online support during Covid with more than 700 people attending weekly events.
- Production of award-winning series the ‘Black Heroes Soul Food Café’ during the first year of the Foundation’s launch, recognised by the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award.
- Black Heroes at the Gallery Exhibition, Waterloo Place, over 1,000 visitors.
- Creation and production of the film ‘The Story of Sam King MBE’. He was a Second World War veteran, founder of the Windrush Foundation and the first Mayor of Southwark.
- Creation and production of the play ‘The Story of Claudia Jones’. She was an activist and producer of the first West Indian Carnival in London which was started as a reaction to the Notting Hill race riots and murder of Kelso Cochrane in 1959.
- Creation and production of the play ‘The Story of John Archer’. He was the first Black mayor in London, becoming Mayor of Battersea in 1913.
What impact did the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have on the Foundation?
This world-wide movement has raised awareness of the plight of black people and the many injustices that they face, it has raised awareness of racism and how deeply embedded it is in western culture.
Many organisations have pledged to embrace and develop equality, diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We have had an increase in the number of corporates approaching us for the delivery of events during Black History Month.
Do you think BLM has been a positive movement to racial equality?
This raising of awareness and putting racism on the agenda has been positive. However, much more is needed in order to facilitate and make the required cultural change take place.
Where does Rotary fit within your work, and that of diversity, equality and inclusion?
The very fact that I am a member of the Rotary Club in Bromley is an outcome of the club’s efforts to be more inclusive and embrace diverse cultures.
Members of the club have attended and supported events hosted by BHF, and Bromley Rotary Club has hosted several presentations about the work we do. This engagement with the Rotary club is an important part of BHF’s mission to bring the stories of black heroes and the work that we do to groups outside of the black community.
Is there more which Rotary could do?
I look forward to our future endeavours with the Rotary club partnering on some of our events and providing support to our projects. This will further contribute to Rotary’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy, improving members’ understanding of different cultures and their contributions to society, improving engagement, introducing Rotary to new audiences and possible members.
What do you think Flip would be thinking of you right now?
I think that he is smiling, pleased that his legacy is living on.