Portrait of Black Britain: Growing up in Moss Side

As part of the Manchester International Festival, the Portrait of Black Britain, created and conceived by Cephas Williams, profiled a range of Black people living in the UK today, the contributions they make and the roles they play in society. 

Our reporter David McLenachan had the exclusive chance to meet and chat with Dorretta Maynard, aged 59, who was featured in the project.

Dorretta said: “I grew up in Moss Side – a fabulous place to grow up in. It was a family place and had such a great community of people. Black, white, Asian people all lived together, it was so wonderful.

“I had a great childhood, full of friendships and memories. Friends were like brothers and sisters. You could knock on anyone’s door and all the parents would treat you like their own.

“My parents came to Britain at the end of Windrush. My father became a steelworker and my mum a nurse. But it was a struggle and my family didn’t expect some of the treatment and racism they received.

“I think in Moss Side now, the stigma has changed the area. People feel differently and perhaps doors are more closed.”

Photo: David McLenachan

Dorretta was nominated to take part in the project and explains her vision for her portrait.

She continued: ” I thought, what do I really want to portray? Do I want to be accepted as a false person? I wanted to be accepted as me.

“I wanted to look strong, powerful, and black. Confident and full of life. To be accepted as who I am, as a black woman looking natural.

“I am representing the elders of my generation now- the second generation of my parents. I’m representing retired black women today in Britain as well.

“Not wrinkly- strong. A woman who stands up for her rights, who is calm, approachable, and always with open arms. She holds the next generation and helps them to rise.

Photo: David McLenachan

The photographer captured my age, naughtiness, smile and laughter altogether.”

As a motivational speaker and fitness coach, Dorretta explains how she is always looking for new ways to grow herself, as well as passing her advice, skills and nurturing to the next generation. 

I’d like to bring back the family unity and togetherness of communities. Local sports and events led by people like myself – the great mommas of the city! We need a hub so that we can dispense knowledge to the next community. 

“I’m passing the baton of knowledge. Young people always say, how can I ever pay you back? I say keep passing the baton on – the elderly are here to help, come to us. We need to be portrayed for children to see.”

You can access the virtual Portrait of Black Britain exhibition here


  1. Doretta is an incredibly proud, strong and beautiful woman – that really comes across in the interview and also in the photos. She is a superb role model for those coming after and for all older people about giving . Well done David and Jodie for getting such an evocative interview with stunning photos. Pauline xx

  2. Dorretta is truly an inspiration for us all. Dorretta is a woman of great talents and she is the epitome of a self-made person. Belonging to an ethnic minority has never deterred her and she has many notable achievements. She is a wonderful actress and I am proud to know her.


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