The Colour of Love is an Organisation Dedicated to Preserving the Stories of Mixed-Race Relationships in Nottingham

Words: Claire Bale
Photos: Colour of Love
Saturday 13 February 2021
reading time: min, words

Claire Bale, author of Oo! That’s a Bit Racey! – a new blog about race, equality and inclusion – explores the impact of The Colour of Love, the organisation dedicated to preserving the stories of mixed-race relationships in Nottingham’s past...


What a pleasure it was to meet Coleen Francis, who founded The Colour of Love project, and her two volunteers, Ndinda and Sedi. True to form, when Black and mixed-race women get together, we laughed a lot, shared personal stories, supported each other and felt like we could have talked all day.

Love is certainly the right word to sum up this project. Not only is it based on the love stories of individuals who overcame adversity, it’s an organisation that is fuelled by the team’s love for what they do. Run by a dedicated, passionate team of volunteers, they are constantly motivated by the stories they uncover and share. During the course of our conversation, I fell in love with them myself, and can’t wait to see their exciting plans come to fruition over the coming months.

The Colour of Love officially began in 2015, although Coleen had been documenting her own family’s story since the mid-nineties when her mother sadly passed away, taking her own inspiring story with her. Having been beaten and locked away by her own parents in an attempt to curtail her relationship with Coleen’s father, Coleen’s mother was one of many white women who suffered greatly because she fell in love with a black man.

Finding little information on the stories of mixed-race relationships both in Nottingham and nationally, Coleen was determined not to let these histories disappear. She set about researching, documenting and sharing the important stories of individuals, couples and families’ experiences, alongside the social and political context they lived in. They’re a huge part of Nottingham’s history and carry valuable lessons for us today in terms of racism, equality, community and, most of all, love.

Ndinda, one of the team’s volunteers, shares this passion. Ndinda’s mother, a white missionary working in Kenya, fell in love with her father, a Kenyan man, and consequently lost her position with the Salvation Army. They married in 1959 and brought up their family in Kenya, before fleeing to Nottingham during the Civil War. When their travelling trunk finally arrived in Nottingham seven years after they set off, having been trapped in the Suez Canal crisis, Ndinda was fascinated by the photographs, journals and incredible pieces of history her mother had cherished.

Over the years, The Colour of Love team has secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and grown to a team of fifteen volunteers, all with a common interest in celebrating mixed-race relationships. They’ve already achieved some wonderful ways to share Nottingham’s mixed race histories, with a beautiful book, The Colour of Love: A Celebration of Mixed-Race Relationships in Nottinghamshire 1940s-1970s, a popular photo exhibition at the New Art Exchange and a celebratory event at the Nottingham Playhouse in August 2019. The next step on the journey will be a film, which many – myself included – are incredibly excited about. It’s going to be shown online for the first time on Saturday 13 February, the perfect weekend to celebrate so many untold love stories.

They’re a huge part of Nottingham’s history and carry valuable lessons for us today in terms of racism, equality, community and, most of all, love

A huge leap along The Colour of Love’s journey is their plan to take these stories to the next generation through educational packs for schools. We’ve all seen the increased interest in Black history over the last few months and, traditionally, white history has always been taught in schools. But there are a million additional facets to history too, made up of different communities. As time moves on, it’s important to enable the next generation to grow through our city’s history, through their communities’ stories and through the lessons that society has learnt. It’s also important to help young people understand their own heritage, and that of those around them, a powerful tool in ensuring all children have a sense of belonging and an enabler to social progress.

At a time when many of us are appreciating our families and communities more than ever, The Colour of Love has an exciting role to play. The team shows a huge appreciation for their community and the support they’ve received. They would like to thank their volunteers, past and present; supporters including the Nottingham Playhouse, New Art Exchange and Five Leaves Bookshop; Andrew and Gian at the digital agency, Nzime, who are helping to build the group’s website pro bono; the National Lottery Heritage Fund; Kelly Thompson, their lead Teacher Volunteer; and, most importantly, their contributors. Without them, so much of our history would be lost.

If you’d like to find out more, join The Colour of Love community on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For everyone who would like to support them, your time and expertise would be greatly valued, especially from those with professional skills as the group expands. Most valuable of all, of course, are your stories of love, because, at the end of day, that’s what it’s all about.

I’m honoured to share a little bit of their brilliant work with the readers of LeftLion in this love issue, and to help The Colour of Love in their mission to document and share the stories of Nottingham’s mixed-race relationships before they disappear.  

You can follow Claire Bale’s blog, Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! at and on Instagram at @oo_thats_a_bit_racey

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