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Witness History: Black history BBC World Service

    • History
    • 4.6 • 88 Ratings

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    The Battle of Versailles: Catwalk clash of American and French fashion

    The Battle of Versailles: Catwalk clash of American and French fashion

    In 1973, a fashion show was held in France which became known as the Battle of Versailles, a duel between designs from modern America and the capital of couture, Paris.
    Five American designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Halston, were invited to show their work alongside five of France’s biggest names, including Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy.
    The aim was to raise money to help restore Versailles, a 17th Century palace built by King Louis XIV, but the media billed it as a competition between the two countries.
    By the end, the Americans were declared the winners. The show also highlighted their industry’s racial diversity on an international stage, with 10 women of colour modelling work by US designers. Bethann Hardison, one of the models, talks to Jane Wilkinson about the lasting impact of the astonishing show.
    (Photo: Bethann Hardison at Versailles in 1973. Credit: Jean-Luce Hure/Bridgeman Images)

    • 10 min
    How Rosa Parks took a stand against racism

    How Rosa Parks took a stand against racism

    Rosa Parks was brought up in Alabama during the Jim Crow era, when state laws enforced segregation in practically all aspects of daily life.
    Public schools, water fountains, trains and buses all had to have separate facilities for white people and black people.
    As a passionate civil rights activist, Rosa was determined to change this.
    In December 1955, she was travelling home from the department store where she worked as a seamstress.
    When a white passenger boarded the bus, Rosa was told to give up her seat.
    Her refusal to do so and subsequent arrest sparked a bus boycott in the city of Montgomery, led by Dr Martin Luther King.
    Using BBC interviews with Rosa and Dr King, Vicky Farncombe tells how Rosa’s story changed civil rights history and led to the end of segregation.
    This programme includes outdated and offensive language.
    (Photo: Rosa Parks sitting on a bus. Credit: Getty Images)

    • 9 min
    Lucha Reyes: Peruvian music star

    Lucha Reyes: Peruvian music star

    Lucha Reyes was one of Peru’s greatest singers. She was born into poverty in 1936 and fought terrible health problems and racism throughout her life. But it didn’t stop her becoming a star of Peruvian Creole music - a fusion of waltzes, Andean and Afro-Peruvian styles.
    In the early 1970s she recorded hits including Regresa and Tu Voz. One of the few black Peruvian celebrities of her era, she was a trailblazer for black women in the country.
    Polo Bances played the saxophone in her band, accompanying her on many of her greatest records. He celebrates her life with Ben Henderson.
    (Photo: Lucha Reyes. Credit: Javier Ponce Gambirazio)

    • 10 min
    How a young mother was saved from death by stoning

    How a young mother was saved from death by stoning

    In March 2002, a young Nigerian Muslim woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and conceiving a child out of wedlock.
    Amina Lawal’s case attracted huge international attention and highlighted divisions between the Christian and Muslim regions in the country.
    Hauwa Ibrahim, one of the first female lawyers from northern Nigeria, defended Amina and helped her secure an acquittal.
    The case would have very personal consequences for Hauwa who went on to adopt Amina’s daughter.
    She tells Vicky Farncombe how the ground-breaking case also changed attitudes in Nigeria towards defendants from poor, rural communities.
    (Photo: Hauwa Ibrahim (left) with Amina Lawal, Credit: Getty Images)

    • 10 min
    Queen of the 'fro

    Queen of the 'fro

    In May 1986, 16-year-old Charlotte Mensah went to work in the UK’s first luxury Afro-Caribbean hair salon, Splinters.
    In London’s glamorous Mayfair, Splinters had earned a world-class reputation and hosted the likes of Diana Ross.
    Charlotte says it looked more like a five-star hotel than a salon and that its owner, Winston Isaacs expected no less than perfection from all his staff.
    Now a giant of the hair care industry in her own right, Charlotte has become known as the 'Queen of the 'fro'.
    She tells Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty about her roots and how training at the legendary Splinters changed her life.
    This programme includes an account of racial bullying.
    (Photo: Young Charlotte in the salon. Credit: Charlotte Mensah)

    • 9 min
    The funeral of Nelson Mandela

    The funeral of Nelson Mandela

    On 15 December 2013, South Africa held the funeral of Nelson Mandela who led the struggle in defeating apartheid and became the country’s first black president.
    His ancestral home in the village of Qunu in South Africa’s Eastern Cape hosted 60 world leaders including four United States presidents and two UN secretary generals.
    It was the first state funeral held by the country.
    Nelson Mandela’s eldest child Dr Makaziwe Mandela tells Josephine McDermott how it took eight years to plan and why it makes her proud to remember that day.
    (Photo: Candles are lit under a portrait of Nelson Mandela at his funeral service. Credit: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

    • 15 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
88 Ratings

88 Ratings

Apalindromea ,

Excellent

A wonderful introduction into important events. Always with an eyewitness account.

Contraryan ,

Excellent coverage

Excellent coverage of events that deserve more attention than they get. At 10 minutes or so, a good length.

JAZZZ LOVER ,

Wow!!!

Please keep them coming! Absolutely love the content and delivery.

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