Techni Tou Dromou

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Carmen Beckford MBE street art mural Bristol

Carmen Beckford street art portraits Bristol

One of the founding organisers of St Paul’s Carnival who went on to become a figurehead for race relations in Bristol has died, aged 87.

Carmen Beckford MBE, a retired nurse who arrived in the UK from Jamaica at the age of 17, passed away in her adopted home of Bristol on Wednesday after a long illness.

Her legacy is set to be immortalised in a giant mural as one of “seven saints of St Paul’s” due to be painted onto streets this summer.

She was instrumental in setting up St Paul’s Carnival – known as St Paul’s Festival at the start –  in 1967 with the help of St Paul’s and Environs Consultative Committee and the West Indian Development Association, aided by the vicar of St Agnes Church.

Beckford, a lover of music and dance, was put in charge of entertainment at the carnival which grew to host more than 100,000 people.

Her work with the community didn’t go unnoticed and she was encouraged by the Jamaican High Commissioner to apply for the role of Bristol first community development officer at Bristol City Council, a role held between 1978-86 which included working to improve race relations in the city.

Throughout her life she also sat on the Commonwealth Coordinated Committee alongside bus boycott campaigner Paul Stephenson and established the West Indian Dance Team in Bristol.

The club went on to perform at Colston Hall and traveled as far as Germany. Beckford said of the team later: “When you have self-respect and pride no one can mess with you. I was involved in all of their lives, I would tell my girls when you are walking on the street keep your head high and no loud talking as you are members of The West Indian Dance Team.”

Her work in the community was officially recognized by the queen in 1982 when Beckford was awarded an MBE, becoming the first black recipient in the South West.

The Seven Saints of St Pauls, a project four years in the making, features painted murals in St Pauls. Each is a portrait of Black Bristolians that are known for the founding of St Paul’s Carnival and advocating for equality.

This includes Carmen Beckford, a figurehead for race relations and Audley Evans, a pioneer of the Bristol Bus Boycotts.

 #bristolgraff  #bristolgraffiti #streetartbristol #bristolstreetart #Upfest


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