21 of Liverpool’s Black unsung heroes
Liverpool’s Black community dates back to the early 1700s and to mark Black History Month the ECHO has compiled a list of some of our city’s Black heroes.
These people have contributed and supported Liverpool’s wider communities in a variety of ways through dedication to helping and inspiring others.
Black History Month in the UK is celebrated each October, with events set to take place celebrating and documenting the people’s lives across the country.
Our list includes writers, youth workers, legal graduates and musicians. There are so many more who could be mentioned so please add their names in the comments below.
1. Brodie Arthur
Brodie is a multidisciplinary artist/activist from Liverpool 8 who also works with organisations as a consultant to advise and guide them to become more inclusive and diverse. Brodie said: “I’m hopeful for change in the world and use the work I do to effectively be a part of that change.
“Working with young people is a vital part of the work I do and informs a lot of the art I make or facilitate. Activism is prevalent in all of the work I create. I’m always striving to make the path easier for those who come after me.”
2. Amber Akaunu
Amber is a Liverpool-born Nigerian-German filmmaker working in cinema, art, and TV to document and explore Black culture, identity, and history. Amber is a BAFTA scholar and recent MA film graduate who is currently residing in South London.
Her creative practice extends to her role as co-founder and editor of ROOT-ed Zine where she works to support Black, Asian and PoC artists in the North West of England through publishing, workshops, guest lectures, curating, and producing.
3. Mervyn Lynch (DJ 2Kind)
DJ 2Kind has been at the forefront of the UK urban music scene as a DJ and radio host for many years. Starting as a member of the legendary Lyrical Compact in the 1990s he began his solo career as a DJ in the early 2000s.
Since then he has featured in shows alongside De La Soul, Jason Derulo and Public Enemy as well as being a guest on KISS FM, Capital Radio and BBC Radio 1Xtra. DJ 2Kind is the founder of ‘L100’ a platform for local Liverpool and Merseyside artists and has worked with Liverpool International Music Festival and the world famous Africa Oye.
4. Kofie Owusu (KOF)
KOF is a captivating artist, musician and owner of GoPlay Studio and one of the city’s leading lights when it comes to our thriving music scene.
Having previously worked with several artists from the likes of Ghetts, Wretch 32, KRS One and Fetty Wap. KOF founded GoPlay Studio, a hub for talented new artists to record, create and release music as well as creating various films and documentaries.
Alongside the running of his successful studio, KOF is continuously releasing his own brand of Hip-Hop and RnB music gaining the respect of critics and his peers alike, and he has ‘big plans’ for the remaining year and next.
5. Sumuyya Khader
Sumuyya, born in 1988, in Liverpool, is an artist working in a multiplicity of ways with major institutions, projects, publishers, social enterprises and artist-led groups. Her practice is a combination of illustration, painting and print works that predominantly explore place and identity.
An artist of empowerment, through the combinations of text and images and also the action she takes beyond her studio. Recent projects include; establishing Granby Press, a community print shop built as a resource for the local community to print zines, newsletters, flyers and artworks. Her first solo show ‘Always Black, Never Blue’ opened at Liverpool’s Bluecoat gallery, October 2021.
Current group exhibitions; Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting at Walker Art Gallery: celebrating paintings by Liverpool artists, NAE Open 2022 and Shifting Perspectives at Leeds Art Gallery.
6. Janiece Myers
Janiece is an artist who began her career as a singer songwriter and has worked across the board in multiple disciplines such as theatre, dance and visual arts.
Janiece is currently the Liverpool City Region community coordinator for the World Reimagined Project, helping to bring social justice through arts and education around true global shared history.
Bringing community arts and education to the forefront has always been her priority. She is currently supporting different community groups such as Toxteth Community Radio and hopes to rebuild the station to its former glory.
7. Dr Mark Christian, Ph.D
Mark, who was born in 1961 in Liverpool and is a product of grassroots education in Liverpool 8, studied at Charles Wootton College and later at the Access to Higher Education in the 1980s.
He gained a Bachelor of Arts (2:1) with Honours in American Studies and Sociology from Liverpool Hope University in 1992 a Master of Arts in Black Studies from Ohio State University in 1993 and became a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of Sheffield in 1997.
Mark is a senior Fulbright Scholar and prolific author focusing mainly on African American and Black British histories. His latest book arrives in October and relates to Liverpool’s Black experience: ‘Transatlantic Liverpool: Shades of the Black Atlantic’ (Lexington Press, 2022). He is currently a tenured professor at the City University, New York, USA.
8. Michelle Sakim
Michelle uses Hip Hop and spoken word to empower and inspire a new generation of artists, music makers, and young people. Hip Hop culture has enabled Michelle to forge a professional life that embraces theatre, dance, poetry, and most importantly to her, music-making.
She has been involved in community-based projects as a mentor, youth worker, writer and performer at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, 20 Stories High theatre in Education, the Culture Company and more.
Michelle delivers creative writing workshops for The Windows Project across the Merseyside region introducing marginalised groups to the power of language through storytelling, creative writing and performance poetry.
9. Kobie Eyo-Hudson
Kobie, a law graduate from Liverpool John Moores University says he recognises his own privilege and wants to give back to the community. He runs an online coaching service and a Community Interest Company (CIC) called ‘Against the Odds’. The CIC offers mentoring, educational and financial support for those enduring hardship.
Operating from the Kuumba Imani centre, Kobie wishes to reform the educational landscape so more children from the area are afforded a better education. This year he tutored numerous children in maths and sciences, all struggling with grades or English as a second language.
After a 100% pass rate, Kobie wishes to continue this upwards trajectory. He gives thanks to his mum, Susan, for helping him become the man he is today.
10. Michelle Peterkin-Walker (Reklaw3 and Akoma Arts)
Michelle, freelance artist, has over 20 years of experience working with community arts projects delivering activity-based sessions; poetry, film screenings, lectures, exhibitions and more. Michelle formed Liverpool Black Archive Hub, an online domain where people can be signposted to films showing aspects of Liverpool’s Black experience.
Michelle said: “I’m a socially engaged artist, activist and videographer. My practice combines photography and design to create digital artworks.
“Digital art enables me to explore the myriad of ways an image can be viewed and transformed, whilst keeping its core self. Spending a lifetime seeing negative representations of African people, I create positive images of life that resonate our beautiful, interesting and diversely dynamic African heritage”.
11. Amina Elmi
Amina was born and bred in the heart of the Liverpool 8 community and completed her Doctorate at the University of Liverpool in 2020; The Gifford Report Revisited – Racism in Employment: A Case Study of Liverpool. She is the project manager at Granby Somali Women’s Group.
Amina developed a family recipe and produced sauces called Bisbaas, which stems from a generational recipe, based on its rich cultural heritage giving it a distinct flavour.
It enables customers to sample an array of new flavours from East Africa. Amina said: “The sauce is one of Somalia’s/Somaliland’s best-kept secrets, comes in two flavours which consist of a chilli coriander green based sauce and a tamarind tango sweet chilli sauce.”
12. Sammier Arnasalam
Sammier is a youth worker, respected by the children and adults she works with. Sammier told the ECHO: “I’ve been a youth worker in the Unity (youth club) since leaving school 13 years ago.” She has been part of different organisations including Granby Toxteth detached youth team, Tiber and Kingsley FC and Kingsley School.
She added: “Born and raised in Toxteth I’ve walked the same path as our youth. I know first hand the importance of having a safe space with support and guidance from positive role models within the community.
“I take pride in knowing our youth choose to attend the centre. We help guide and support them towards different paths and opportunities with skills and confidence to achieve positive outcomes.”
13. Alisha Fairyike
Alishia’s work has involved being awarded Miss Sovereign Great Britain ambassador in 2020 working with youth and learning how teaching young people to drum can bring unity. This also included work with asylum seekers, and refugees learning about building relationships and connecting with people from different parts of the community.
She has been involved with Lad Bible to promote and encourage young people to have the confidence to follow their dreams. Working within the community Alisha highlights how activism can bring people together.
Aisha said: “Activism is feeling the irresistible urge to right wrongs in society. Everyone should feel empowered and active; man, woman, poor and rich, working together to make change.”
14. Dennis Braithwaite (DJ D Fresh)
D Fresh has been at the heart of Liverpool’s urban music scene as a musician and DJ since the early 1990s. As a drummer he has played in Liverpool bands such as ‘A Ray of Charles’ ‘Amique’ ‘Vibe’ ‘The Elementals’. More recently D Fresh played with ‘Tosin’s Trio’ featuring at music events such as Bestia, Boomtown Festival and the Wilderness Festival.
He started as a member of Lyrical Compact (alongside DJ Olabean and DJ 2 Kind) D Fresh has supported acts such as Arrested Development, Grandmaster Flash, and Greg Wilson to name a few.
With a DJ style mixing disco, Hip Hop, Old Skool, RnB, Nu Disco and Broken Beats, his electric sets have cemented his reputation as one of Liverpool’s pioneering DJ’s.
15. Natalie Denny
Natalie, founder of Skywriters Ltd, a creative, education social enterprise shortlisted for a Merseyside Independent Business Award 2022. Her roles include writer, activist, tutor and a consultant for the Anthony Walker Foundation.
She is chair of The Period Project Merseyside, an initiative providing menstrual items and campaigning to #endperiodpoverty. She co-founded The Goddess Projects, who empower, inspire and assist Black and women of colour to develop and achieve in their communities.
Winner of the Merseyside Women of the Year Social Impact accolade in 2022 and is represented by Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV and Film Agency.
Natalie is included in Hear Me Now Vol.2, a unique collection of audition monologues for actors of colour, published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
16. Hannah Lynch (DJ Hannah Lynch)
Hannah has been a pioneer within the female DJ scene for the past five years and has become one of the most in demand club DJs within Liverpool.
Hannah presents as 1/4 member of DJ group Girls Don’t Sync, who exploded onto the scene just over 12 months ago. They have toured internationally and played at some of the biggest festivals across the UK with three sets at the Glastonbury Festival alone.
Creating a mix fully dedicated to Liverpool artists, Hannah has recently been featured on BBC 1Xtra to showcase local talent. In 2020 Hannah opened her own DJ academy (STUDIO 123) a safe, creative space for people to learn how to DJ.
17. Omar Elmi
Omar was born in Liverpool and raised in the Liverpool 8 area and became a business owner at the young age of 17. Makkah Halal Meats enabled the diverse community to purchase a range of specialist foods, which served their needs.
He ran Makkah Halal Meats for 16 years and has now transitioned into working in football coaching. At present, he coaches and manages Toxteth FC Football Club in under five age groups, from the under six team up to under 10. This role is multi-dimensional and has also enabled him to be a youth mentor.
18. Abraham Ojapah
Abraham, founder of Yamm Tree told the ECHO: “Yamm Tree is a movement towards a more natural lifestyle. The aim is to inspire people to make simple healthier decisions that can have big impacts in their mental wellbeing and physical health.
“A big win for us was when we reached our funding goal to open our very own restaurant. We’ve had a couple of delays with work getting done inside the newly renovated kitchen but we aim to be open very soon”.
Abraham has had pop up shops at venues across Liverpool and runs workshops too, teaching people about plant based foods.
19. Natasha Jonas
Liverpool’s double world champion inspires people nationwide and no doubt across the globe too. Natasha picked up her WBC title in Liverpool on September 3, adding it to her WBO title after a points victory over the unbeaten Patricia Berghult.
She made history in 2012 by becoming the first female to qualify and box in the Olympics, in London, for Britain.
Natasha regularly goes into schools giving motivational talks to children of all ages and about her journey, life and working hard to achieve their goals and enjoys encouraging and supporting people especially in Toxteth, where she grew up.
20. Nikkita Parris
Nikkita was a member of the victorious England women’s football team crowned champions of Europe in this year’s tournament held in England after a 2-1 extra time win over Germany.
Nikkita from Toxteth Liverpool 8 currently plays for Manchester United in the Women’s Super league after joining from Arsenal.
An inspiration to many girls and women, like her teammates, who want to follow in her footsteps and play football locally and for their country too.
Nikkta recently opened a training facility, supported by Puma, at the Methodist youth centre in Toxteth, a place where she played football as a young girl.
21. Stephen Mulrooney (1964 – 2022)
Stephen, known as Muller, grew up in Toxteth and over the years has used his talents as a dancer, youth leader and workshop facilitator, who inspired, mentored and motivated children across the region.
Muller was one of the early pioneers of street dancing in Liverpool and was well known in the breakdance and body pooping scene around Liverpool’s clubs and further. He was part of the dance group Eastwood Rockers who entertained people all over and appeared in Liverpool football clubs, Anfield Rap video.
His daughter La’Tasha said: “Our dad, one of the most talented men I’ve met. Without arrogance and could build the most amazing atmosphere with people from all over Liverpool. One in a lifetime.”