Birmingham Black Oral History Project R1171 Oral History Interview – Ryland Campbell 09/09/1991 – 14/09/1991 Interviewee: Ryland Campbell Interviewer: Doreen Price
This is an oral history interview with Ryland Campbell, recorded in 1991, as part of the Birmingham Black Oral History Project (BBOHP), discussing his life in Jamaica and the UK.
Ryland was mainly raised by his aunt in Jamaica as his mother was young and worked away in Kingston. He talks about not having a father in his life and the difficulties this caused him. His mother decided to emigrate to England and later sent for Ryland. He arrived in 1952 and began working as a bus conductor for Midland Red. As a young man he married his wife Margret, a midwife, and they had two children. He talks about the difficulties of being in a mixed-race relationship at the time. Ryland talks at length about the Handsworth Riots and performs some of his songs and poetry.
These recordings include racially explicit content, including discussions of racism, prejudice and violence; racially explicit language; and language and phrasing that we would not use today. Some of this content might be unsuitable for younger listeners or triggering for People of Colour. We recommend reading the description for each track before choosing to listen
Track 1 Introduction Ryland introduces himself and his early family life in Jamaica. Warning: Explicit Language
Track 2 Family life Ryland discusses what his family members did for a living and his experiences of being a child born outside of marriage in Jamaica.
Track 3 Living with Aunty Ryland describes living with his aunt on an estate where she was a housekeeper to a white man and his family.
Track 4 Poverty and School Ryland discusses his experiences of poverty, his early school years and interactions with other children.
Track 5 School cont. Ryland continues to discuss his school years including his early interest in art.
Track 6 Discipline and Further Education Ryland describes discipline in Jamaican culture and wanting to go to art college.
Track 7 Town and City Ryland talks about the differences between growing up in rural towns and big cities.
Track 8 Moving to Kingston Ryland talks about the 1930s labour strikes and moving to Kingston to be with his mother who lived in tenement housing.
Track 9 Housing Ryland describes what tenement housing was like where his mother lived and 'Shanty Towns' in the cities.
Track 10 Prejudice Ryland reads a poem 'Like an Ember' and talks about his understanding on colour prejudice.