Black History Month: Leroy through the lens

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Leroy Cooper’s photography exhibition, Liverpool Through the Lens, currently on display in The Museum of Liverpool, is a love letter to the city and an evocative and insightful depiction of life in the Liverpool 8 community. 

In July 1981, just 20 years old, Leroy was arrested in Liverpool 8. The incident provided a spark to the growing discontent at police discrimination and violence against the Black community in the area, which led to the first Toxteth uprising. Following his arrest, Leroy pursued a career in photography to counteract the negative depictions of Toxteth and the L8 community after 1981, amassing a collection of over a quarter of a million images that documented Liverpool's people and culture. Beyond photography, he was a talented performance poet, DJ on Toxteth Community Radio, and a graffiti artist, known for repainting Toxteth street name signs in the vibrant colours of Rastafari. Cooper's creative spirit remained undeterred, inspiring us all.

Amidst all the trials and tribulations of the Liverpool 8 community, Leroy’s lens always focused on the people and the community, revealing their strengths and vulnerabilities, through both happy and sadder times. Leroy was a guest of Writing on the Wall’s festival many, many times. We were proud to be invited to the opening of this exhibition in early 2023. In tribute to Leroy’s life and 40-year career WoW and NML are launching ‘Leroy Through the Lens’, a project that turns the focus on Leroy and his work, through a range of monthly workshops inviting participants to respond to Leroy’s powerful photography through a creative writing. The first session will be led by Leroy’s cousin and internationally renowned dub poet and performer, Levi Tafari.

We are proud to launch the first of a series of four workshops as part of our Black History Month programme. Although each will stand alone,  participants are welcome to book for all sessions.