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UK Black History Month: Statue by Zimbabwean artist David Matusa gets listed status

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By BBC News


A statue of the first black playwright to have his work broadcast on British television has been given listed status.

The bust of Alfred Fagon in St Pauls, Bristol, is now a Grade II-listed monument.

The Chelmsford gravestone of an African American who liberated himself from enslavement has also been listed.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) made the announcement on Wednesday during Black History Month.

Amendments to the National Heritage List are made by the DCMS on the advice of Historic England.

Historic England chief executive, Duncan Wilson, said: “Black History Month offers a great opportunity to bring attention to black stories and celebrate the important contributions of black people to our nation’s story.

“The stories highlighted by these new listings and amendments are fascinating and important additions to The National Heritage List for England.”

Fagon moved to Britain from Jamaica in 1955 aged 18-years-old, and would become one of the most notable writers of the 1970s and 1980s.

One of his first works, No Soldiers in St Pauls, examined the tensions between the police and the black community in 1970s Bristol.

At the time of his death in 1986, it is thought that he was still the only black British playwright to have had their work broadcast on national television.

His bust, sculpted by Zimbabwean artist David Matusa, was erected in 1987.

The listed status intends to “celebrate this bust’s special architectural and historic interest” and give it a form of protection for future generations.

The second listing is of a gravestone in Chelmsford belonging to Joseph Freeman, a formerly enslaved man from New Orleans who liberated himself from enslavement and later died in the English city in 1875.

Historic England has said the memorial is of “considerable importance” as it provides evidence of formerly enslaved African American people in England and serves as a reminder of the human impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.