West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre (WBACRC) started as a result of local individuals within the African Caribbean community seeking to acquire facilities to meet the immediate and emerging needs of the African Caribbean community in Sandwell.
The urgency of the matter was heightened by what was happening in inner cities across the country in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
National and local television news carried pictures of police in pitched battles with young people on the streets and a significant number of those young people were from black and minority ethnic communities.
Between 1980-81 major incidents in Handsworth, Toxteth and Brixton pointed to increasing disaffection with racism, high unemployment and poor police relations being identified as the areas in most need of attention. If this could happen in Handsworth would it spread to West Bromwich?
In 1984 the initial ideas for a centre lead to a series of meetings among like minded groups. After the successful negotiations among 4 smaller African Caribbean focused organisations were born:
- Sandwell and District West Indian Community Association (SADWICA)
- Association of Community Enhancement (ACE)
- Afro Caribbean Cultural Organisation (ACCO)
- Tolunka the Resource centre
Mr Mellis, Mr Fletcher and Mrs Frank all recall meeting in each others houses to iron out the plans for the centre whilst Mrs Thomas’ mother was one of the first volunteers in the kitchen.
In 1985 the UK experienced a second wave of inner city uprisings, this time in Haringey, Brixton, Toxteth and Lozells. The group decided to go ahead and open the first bank account in 1985; and by 1986 with the help of Sandwell Council and funding from the Urban Program the organisation was established.
It was against this political background that WBACRC was opened with the aim to having a place for African Caribbean people to socialise and hold events that bound the community together.
Mr Lorenzo Mellis - First Chair
Mr Lloyd Fletcher - Longest Serving Chair
Mrs Victoria Frank - First Female Chair