Jessica and Eric Huntley were partners in Business, Political and Community Activism.
An audience will be gathering at the Huntley's home at Coldershaw Road, in Ealing, on the afternoon of Saturday, 13th October (coincide with the borough’s Black History Month celebrations), for the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to celebrate the life of Jessica and Eric Huntley and 50 years since Bogle-L’Ouverture was set up.
This date also marks five years since the passing of Jessica Huntley. The unveiling, has been organised by The Nubian Jak Community Trust with thanks to the Crowdfunding Campaign by Huntley Family members and Friends.
Eric and Jessica Huntley were lifelong partners, who came to the UK from Guyana as a later group of Windrush arrivals in the 1950s and 60s, for which they just received an award from the Guyana High Commission. The Huntleys continued engaging in social and political activism, initiating, inspiring and working with others to establish community projects, such as Black Parents’ Movement, with the emphasis on alleviating injustice and marginalisation. Jessica was also part of the development of the Keskidee Centre, one of the UK’s first African Caribbean Cultural Centres.
In 1968, pioneering Publishing House Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications (BLP) was established in London which aimed to provide a radical platform for writers from Africa and the Caribbean.
Named after two of the Caribbean’s most important liberators, (Paul) Bogle and (Toussaint) L’Ouverture, Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications was founded by Eric and Jessica Huntley and others, following the Jamaican Government’s banning Dr Walter Rodney from re-entering the country in October 1968.
Their most influential publications were How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and The Groundings with My Brothers both by Dr Walter Rodney. They also published titles by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Beryl Gilroy, Andrew Salkey, Valerie Bloom, Robin Walker and many others.
They were committed to working together in true partnership which spanned 60 years.
Huntley Family, said: “The Nubian Jak Memorial Plaque is a timely recognition of the contributions made by Jessica and Eric Huntley to Black British experience for more than 50 years. The Memorial was recommended to the Nubian Jak Community Trust and is fully supported by the Huntley family.”
Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Tejinder Singh Dhami said: “Ealing has always welcomed people from different diverse backgrounds, and it is fitting that one of the first African and Caribbean book publishers in Britain was founded within this borough. We would like to extend our congratulations to the Huntley family on the 50th anniversary of formation of Bogle-L'ouverture, and welcome the Blue Plaque becoming an Ealing heritage site and place of interest.”
Jak Beula CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, said: “Two halves of the same coin, a couple that complemented and completed each other. We were lucky to have the visionary publishing presence of Jessica and Eric Huntley in the UK, and to honour them with a Nubian Jak Community Trust Blue Plaque is a privilege. “
Dr Margaret Busby, OBE, Hon. FRSL, said “The unique personal and political partnership forged by Jessica and Eric Huntley lasted more than 60 years, spanning their native Guyana and the Britain where they migrated in the late 1950s. The impact of the Ealing-based publishing enterprise they co-founded, Bogle-L’Ouverture, resonated around the world and, half a century later, continues to inspire us all today.”
Professor Gus John, said: “Jessica and Eric Huntley pioneered Black Publishing alongside veterans such as Margaret Busby, of Allison and Busby, John La Rose and Sarah White of New Beacon Books. Based in West Ealing, Bogle-L’Ouverture had a massive impact both on the growing Black Supplementary/Sa turday School movement and on multicultural education in the mainstream schooling and further/higher education system. Above all, it helped to shape and inform black political struggle across the generations, such that few black political and cultural activists would fail to acknowledge their indebtedness to the Huntleys.”