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Academics bringing together art and history at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

Rosey Pool - a Holocaust survivor - was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the US and was a pioneer in the field of African-American studies.

Sussex academics are taking to the stage to provide an entertaining insight into the astounding life of a Holocaust survivor and Civil Rights activist.

Dr Doug Haynes (American Studies) and Dr Joanna Pawlik (Art History) will be joined by former Sussex PhD student Diarmuid Hester (University of Cambridge) and artist Harold Offeh in a performance inspired by the incredible life of Rosey E. Pool.

As Waves of One Sea: They Taught Me Laughing To Keep From Crying, a traditional talk combined with experimental performance, will be held at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on Monday from 8pm as part of the UK-wide Being Human Festival.

The event is one of three held over two days at the Attenborough Centre focussing on the influence of Rosey Pool who helped her fellow Jews escape The Netherlands during the Second World War, taught Anne Frank at the Jewish Lyceum in Amsterdam and managed to break free herself from Westerbork concentration camp.

After the war, she became heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the US, befriending leading African-American writers such as Langston Hughes and W.E.B Du Bois.

Following her death in London in 1971, her extensive archive of correspondence was donated to the University of Sussex and it is currently stored at The Keep.

A second event, Treasures from the Rosey Pool Library, on Tuesday at 12.30pm will explore the archive in more detail while auteur Isaac Julien is the star guest at the screening of his film Looking for Langston from 8pm on Tuesday.

Dr Haynes, director of the Sussex Centre for American Studies, said: "Rosey Pool led an incredible life, standing up against the two greatest evils of the 20th Century in the Holocaust and the oppression of African-Americans. It is a mystery why she is not better remembered by history and so we hope to play our small part in making more people aware of this inspiring individual.”

On Saturday, the focus at The Attenborough Centre will be on the lives of Black youngsters in 1980s in a film screening organised by Professor Martin Evans (History) for the Brighton film festival Cinecity.

Babylon (1980) is a revolutionary and authentic portrayal of young Black British lives infused with the spirit of resistance as the protagonists kick against police brutality, racism and lack of job opportunities. 

The film screening will be preceded by reggae music playing in the bar from 3pm with an introduction by public historian Kelly Foster,  who will then take part in a round table discussion with Professor Paul Goodwin (Chelsea College of Arts) and Mykaell Riley (University of Westminster and former lead singer with Steel Pulse) after the film.


Cinecity: Cultures of Resistance - Babylon Saturday 3pm
As Waves of One Sea: They Taught Me Laughing To Keep From Crying Monday 8pm
As Waves of One Sea: Treasures from the Rosey Pool Library Tuesday 12.30pm
As Waves of One Sea: Looking for Langston Tuesday 8pm

For more details and tickets for the events visit

By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Thursday, 16 November 2017