Brent: Author Precious Williams on black history

While waiting for her talk to start, Precious Williams sat alone on the front row looking a little curious. This was the first time she had been back to Brent since being born there some forty years ago, and maybe she was trying to place what she saw into her own memories.

While waiting for her talk to start, Precious Williams sat alone on the front row looking a little curious. This was the first time she had been back to Brent since being born there some forty years ago, and maybe she was trying to place what she saw into her own memories.

A renowned journalist, Ms William’s first book Precious is an autobiographical story about growing up in between cultures. Precious had two families, a wealthy Nigerian and absent mother on the one side and a suffocating English foster ‘nanny’, on the other. “You don’t get families more abnormal than mine!” she laughs.

But this book is about more than Precious’s own story, she wants to show a ‘secret slice of Britain’s history’ - how ordinary it was in the 1970s for young African parents coming to England to put their children into foster care for a few years with white parents while they completed their studies.

Ms Williams said: “It is not something people are not going to sing about, but once I start talking about it there’s always some link to someone there.”


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And there was, several members of the audience had their own story about fostering.

That is why she’s here to talk about her book for black history month. She said: “If you don’t know your history you can’t know yourself and be happy.”

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This is a phrase she comes back to often and clearly what motivated her to write.

She added: “I don’t understand what’s going on with the way history is taught traditionally but it’s leaving out contributions by people of colour: it’s like someone cut them out.”

But this past is current for Precious. She said: “Black history month lets young people know that you can go away and be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. History is not just ancient history.”

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