Birmingham Black Oral History Project R1174 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 Coming to Birmingham Ryland then explains making the journey from Dover to West Bromwich where his mother was living and adjusting to English culture and the colder climate.
Track 2 Living conditions Ryland describes the cramped living conditions in West Bromwich and getting a job as a conductor on the Red Midland buses.
Track 3 Living condition and working Ryland discusses his mother’s job as a machine operator and a problem with his employment records back in Jamaica. He also continues to talk about the poor living conditions.
Track 4 Family relationships Ryland discusses his stepfather coming to England and problems when his mother became ill.
Track 5 Racism
Ryland talks about experiencing racism and discrimination at work and by other immigrant communities in Britain. He also mentions a brief relationship he had with a married German woman. (NB. Includes additional postscript addition from final R1177 Track 10)
Track 6 Poetry Ryland performs another poem that he wrote about nature (no title), he also mentions his memory of writing poetry on the 'Handsworth Riots'.
Track 7 Handsworth Riots Ryland recites a poem written about the Handsworth Uprising in the 1980s. He also performs a song he wrote when he stayed in London.
Track 8 Music Ryland performs another song and poem that he wrote while at a festival.
Track 9 Performing Ryland talks about his acting work and discusses his views of his creative work, the arts and language. Warning: Explicit Racial Language
Track 10 Poetry cont. Ryland recites his poem 'Celestia' and another poem (no title).