Check out interesting facts and achievements from the Black and Asian community
Black Talent TV Special 1947
Evelyn Dove , Edric Connor, Mable Lee, Cyril Blake and his Calypso Band, Buddy Bradley, Winifred Atwell, and Adelaide Hall plus others performed in Variety in Sepia, an early example of a UK television special dedicated to Black talent, filmed live at the RadiOlympia Theatre, Alexandra Palace, London, and aired on BBC TV on 7th October 1947.
More Facts & Surprises
4th Century African Briton
Hi Tech archaeology and historical research show that in Roman Britain there were many individuals of African heritage of all classes. The 4th century ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’ of York and ‘The Beachy Head Lady’ from sub-Saharay n Africa, is thought to have lived in East Sussex c. 200 AD.
Picton's Land Legacy
Cesar Picton was a former servant, who became a coal merchant in Kingston-upon-Thames, and was wealthy enough by the time he died to be able to bequeath two acres of land, and a house with wharf and shops attached.
Rushanara The First
At the 2010 General Election, Rushanara Ali became the first person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to the House of Commons.
British Bangladeshi's Lowest Income Group
British Bangladeshis have the highest overall relative poverty rate of any ethnic group in the UK with 65% of Bangladeshis living in low income households.
Henry VII and Henry VIII employed black musicians and servants in their courts.
Basu Brings Terror To His Role
In March 2018, Neil Basu becames first Asian officer to the take top counterterror role with his appointment as head of counterterrorism at the Metropolitan Police
No Boots For Salim is No problem
Mohammed Salim, an Indian from Calcutta, came to play for Celtic in the 1936-37 season…in bare feet and impressed all who watched but then dissappeared back to India
Tamils Flee Civil War
A phase of Sri Lankan migration to the UK occurred from the 1980s onwards, during the civil war in Sri Lanka. A large number of Tamil Sri Lankans sought asylum in the UK
Punjabi Soliders In British Army
The ties between the British and the Punjab region of India go back a long way. From 1857 onwards many Punjabis served in the British army
No Apprenticeships Says London's Mayor
Most black people, if they escaped their masters, were doomed to live in poverty. In 1731, the Lord Mayor of London, responding to moral panic about the size of the non-white population in the city, banned them from holding company apprenticeships.
Prince and A West Indian Slave
Mary Prince was the first Black woman to write and publish an autobiography ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave,' an account of the horrors of life on the plantations enslavement, published in Britain c.1831. Mary Prince was also the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament.
Refugees Take Flight
Most Bangladeshi families in the UK in the present time are the result of large scale migration in the early 1970s from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh, as people fled from the civil unrest in their homeland
Paul Reaney of Leeds United was not open about his Black Heritage that history has not recognised that he and NOT Viv Anderson in 1978 was the first Black Player to play Senior Football for England. Reaney won the first of his two caps in 1968 ,some 10 years before Anderson.
Marson The First
Una Marson arrived in London in 1932, aged 27, and within a few years she had added being BBC's first black female programme-maker to her list of accolades – which already included being a published poet and playwright. #InternationalWomansDay
Undisputed Heavyweight Champion
In 1999, Lennox Lewis became the first British undisputed heavyweight champion unifying the IBF, WBA and WBC titles since Bob Fitzsimmon for 100 years.
Elementary Mr. Watson
In 1881, Andrew Watson became the world's first black association football player to play at international level. He was capped three times for Scotland between 1881 and 1882 and considered one of the top ten most important players of the 19th century.
18th Century UK Blacks
In 1700, about 15,000 black people lived in London. This fact puts into context the false association of the arrival of the Ship HM Windrush almost 250 years later in 1948, as the start of a significant Black presence in London.
Beginning of The End of The UK Slave Trade
In 1772, Lord Mansfield court ruling that a slave who has deserted his master could not be taken by force to be sold abroad. Verdict triggers black flight from their owners, the decline of slavery in England, and calls by Equiano and others for the abolition of the slave trade.
Seacole Refused Request To Assist
Mary Seacole's historic role in the Crimean War is now recognised. However when Seacole applied to the British War Office to assist she was actually refused.
The First Black Newspaper
Founded in July 1912 by Duse Mohamed Ali, The ‘Africa Times and Orient Review'was the first political journal produced by and for Black people ever published in Britain. It was printed in Fleet Street in London. Marcus Garvey was a staff writer at the newspaper.
Kicked Out To Make History
Claudia Jones recognised for her founding role of the Notting Hill Carnival and the West Indian Gazette Newspaper was an active black nationalist and Communist Jones was deported from the United States for her political activities and campaigns to the United Kingdom in 1955
The Queen & The Black Migrants
In 1596, Queen Elizabeth I issued letters to the lord mayors of major cities asserting that "of late divers blackmoores brought into this realm, of which kind of people there are already here to manie..
Kapoor Wins Turner Award
Anish Kapoor, a British-Indian Sculptor received the highly acclaimed Turner Prize for Art in 1991
Britains Muslim Spy
Nora Inayat-Khan, was Britain's first Muslim war heroine renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive(SOE) in World War Two. She was also a published author who was posthumously awarded the George Cross , the highest civilian decoration in the UK. As an SOE agent she became the first female wireless operator to be sent from Britain into occupied France to aid the French Resistance during World War II, and was Britain's first Muslim war heroine.
The Royal Black Trumpeteer
A black musician is among the six trumpeters depicted in the royal retinue of Henry VIII in the Westminster Tournament Roll, an illuminated manuscript dating from 1511
Change of Guard in British Tradition
In December 2012, Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar, a Sikh soldier, became the first to guard Buckingham Palace without a bearskin and is allowed to wear his turban instead. It broke over 180 years of tradition.
The Black Roman Soliders
African soldiers who served as part of the Roman army were stationed at Hadrian's Wall during the 2nd century AD
The Spy Who Watched You ?
In January 2019, The Guardian Newspaper publishes witness testimony that the founder, Peter Hornsby, of "The Flamingo" which ran from 1961-1965 was an agent for the intelligence service, MI6. It claims it used the magazine to push an anti-communist agenda among Black and West Indian communities.
Fanny the Famous Model
Fanny Eaton (23 June 1835 – 4 March 1924) was a Jamaican-born artist's model and domestic worker. She is best known for her work as a model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their circle between 1859–67. Her public debut was in Simeon Solomon's The Mother of Moses, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1860
Edmonstone Teaches Charles Darwin A Lesson or Two
Charles Darwin is almost larger than life in his impact on scientific thinking. However did you know he was taught by a freed Slave, Black Teacher called John Edmonstone who taught Charles Darwin the very basics of the natural science? He taught taxidermy at Edinburgh University in the 19th Century
Black Ban In Britain
Did you know that despite the service of British West Indian Soliders in the First World War, Black Soliders were banned from taking part in London's victory celebrations on 19 July 1919?
The Opening Shots.....Literally
Did you know that Alhaji Grunshi DCM MM, serving in the Gold Coast Regiment, was the first soldier in British service to fire a shot in the First World War in August 1914?
Sanderson's Spectacular Six
"Tessa" Sanderson, CBE ,former javelin thrower is the only Athlete in Track & Field to compete in six Olympic Games in the javelin (1976–1996). She won the gold medal in 1984 for Great Britain.
Andrew Watson (1856 –1921) is widely considered to be the world's first black person to play association football and also at international level. He played three matches for Scotland between 1881 and 1882. He was actually the Captain of Scotland in his first match.
Less than twelve out of 3,000 professional footballers in the top four divisions are of south Asian – countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – origin.
A Racing 3rd, 2nd and 1st
When Guyanese born Sprinter Harry Edwards won a Bronze in the 100 and 200 yards dashes at the Olympics Games in Antwerp in 1908, he became Britain's first ever non white Track Medalist.
A Stamp of Approval
On 6 April 2013 , the first Black Mayor elected in London, John Archer, was honoured by Royal Mail via a special stamp in the as one of six people selected as subjects for the “Great Britons”
A Black and White Matter
On 15 May 1979, an all black team came together for one game to honour a friend.It would surely be inconceivable now but no-one batted an eyelid 30-odd years ago when an All White Team played each other for Len Cantello’s testimonial match came up with a novel way of marking his decade of service to West Bromwich Albion.
The Massive Mosque In Morden
The Morden Mosque in, London is not only Britain's largest mosque,but also the largest mosque of western Europe. The mosque covers an area of 5.2 acres (21,000 m2) and the full complex can accommodate up to 10,000 worshipers
Colour By Numbers
The 2011 Census shows that overall, black communities (including Black African, Black Caribbean, Black American or Black European) make up 3.4 percent of Britain’s overall population which now stands at 56.1 million – an increase of seven percent since 2001.
Billy The First
Billy Boston is credited as the first Black Rugby League player to represent the Great Britain and Ireland Lions on their Rugby League Tour to Australia in 1954
Racial Diversity In Parliament At Last ?
The 2015 UK General Election produced the most ethnically diverse British parliament in history. There are now 41 black and ethnic minority MPs out of a total of 650. Asians heritage MP's now 28 but just 9 MPs who can claim African ethnicity .
The Angel Princess
Did you know that Ethopian Princess Tsehai Haile Selassie fourth child of Emperor Haile Selassie and Empress Menen Asfaw of Ethiopia,was a UK state registered children's nurse? She was employed at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children during the London Blitz of 1940/41.
Self Defence Before Offence
The Bradford 12 Trial in April 1982 and the verdict on 16 June 1982 caused legal history because it successfully established the doctrine that you were legally entitled to defend yourself against an attack before it was even planned let alone take place. Look at the Our Heritage TV Timeline for more details on this truly historic case.
First Class Nowrojee
The first Indian student to enter British Higher Education was credited as Dhunjeebhoy Nowrojee in 1843 at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. He studied Theology and was ordained in 1846
A Cut Above The Rest ?
Did you know that at its peak Channel 4 All Black Cast Comedy "Desmond's" (1989-1994) - attracted over 5.6 million viewers every week ? The series starred Norman Beaton as barber Desmond Ambrose. Desmond's shop was a gathering place for an assortment of local characters.
Greatest of All Time ?
When Randolph Turpin or Randy Turpin,became world middleweight champion by defeating Sugar Ray Robinson on 10 July 1951, it was regarded and is still regarded as the greatest upset in Boxing History. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001.
Still Undisputed Heavyweight Champion ?
Britain's Lennox Lewis who boxed between 1989 and 2003 is STILL as of January 2019, the last undisputed Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World -holding all recognized Titles - the WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine lineal Heavyweight Champion. He won 38 of his 45 professional contests.
Most Indian Resturants Are Not Actually
South Asians have had lasting impact on popular British culture with the spread of Indian cuisine. However, most of the 9,000 Indian restaurants in the UK, are run by Bangladeshi's.
Jay Sean's not Down
In 2009, Jay Sean's American debut single "Down" topped the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first solo artist of South Asian origin and first UK urban act to top the Hot 100. It sold more than three million copies in the United States that year eventually reaching six million sales in the United States,This made him the most successful British/European male urban artist in US chart history at that point.
MOBOS Keep Their Mojo
The MOBO Awards "Music of Black Origin", established in 1996 by Kanya King and Andy Ruffell, has become one of Europe’s biggest and most influential music award ceremonies, celebrating excellence in black music in the UK and internationally in the musical fields of hip-hop, grime, RnB, soul, reggae, jazz, gospel, and African music.
Britain's Richest Man is Asian
Britain based Indian Lakshmi Mittal is currently Britain's richest man and the fifth richest man in the world. He has an estimated wealth of around $55 Billion.
Bus Company's Dream Move
On the 28 August 1963 the Bristol Bus Company lifted the employment colour ban. This was the same day that Martin Luther King Jr made his “I have a dream speech” in the United States.
Not A Patch on Apache Indian
Apache Indian was a 90's Hip Hop Star who infused reggae and hip hop with Indian popular music to create a sound that transcended genre and found a multicultural audience. He is the only Indian artist to have achieved 6 top forty hits in the National UK charts
Israelites Are No.1
The first Jamaican performers to reach number one in Britain were Desmond Dekker and the Aces with "Israelites" in 1969
The Mangrove Trial
After marching on a police station in 1970 to protest unfair police treatment and discrimination Crichlow and eight others including Darcus Howe were charged with incitement to riot in 1971. Their trial lasted 55 days and eventually the Mangrove Nine were acquitted. The case is still seen as the most significant ever for UK Black Civil Rights due to highlighting the racism that was rife in the London Metropolitan police.
Academic Poor Standards
In 2017, The Higher Education Statistics Authority revealed that universities are employing more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.
The Real First Asian MP ?
David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre, was an Anglo-Indian held to be the first person of Asian descent to be elected to the British Parliament to represent the Sudbury constituency in July 1841, but was removed in April 1842 due to bribery in the election process. Hence why Dadabhai Naoroji is credited as the first Asian to be a Brtish MP, more than 50 years after the actual first Asian MP was elected
Hamed Is No.1
Boxer Naseem Hamed who held multiple world championships at featherweight, including the WBO title from 1995 to 2000; the IBF title in 1997; and the WBC title from 1999 to 2000;reigned as lineal champion from 1998 to 2001; IBO champion from 2002 to 2003; is ranked as the best British featherweight boxer of all time by BoxRec. In 2015 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Naoroji The First
Dadabhai Naoroji , known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Liberal Party member of Parliament (MP) between 1892 and 1895, and the first Asian to be a British MP.
The First Black Londoner?
The earliest known record of a Black person living in London is of "Cornelius a Blackamoor" whose burial on 2nd March 1593 was recorded in the parish register at St Margaret's Church in Lee.
Britains First Mosque
Abdullah Quilliam was a 19th-century convert from Christianity to Islam is noted for founding England's first mosque and Islamic centre in 1889.
The Lascars - The first UK South Asian Migrants
38 South Asians Sailors ( Lascars) were reported coming to work in England in 1760 to work for the British East India Company.Between 1803 and 1813, there were more than 10,000 lascars from the Indian subcontinent visiting British port cities and towns
The Blacked Beggars
The likes of Billy Waters and Joseph Johnson made an artistic spectacle out of their poverty - they became underworld celebrities, and were so well rewarded that by the 1850s many white beggars had begun to black up.
Khan 's Historic Military Honour
(Jemadar) Abdul Hafiz Khan was 18 years old and served with the 9th. Jat. Regiment, Indian Army. He died bravely in 1944 and became the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross - Britain's highest Military Honour
Rag To Riches
A parliamentary report in 1815 claimed that one enslaved person had been able to return to the West Indies with a fortune of £1,500
More than 8 out of 10 Sikhs own their own home
In 2004 it was reported that UK Sikhs had the highest percentage of home ownership, at 82%, out of all UK religious communities
Biggest Black Protest In Britain
In the wake of the deaths of 13 young people in an arson attack in 1981 the New Cross Massacre Action Committee mobilised 20,000 people in protest.
The Race Riots 1919
White and Black community clashed in 1919. Following WW1, men who were demobilised in Cardiff found there was a shortage of work and resented competing for jobs with black workers. Riots in Liverpool, Newcastle, Newport and Cardiff saw black people driven from their homes and violently attacked, and several people killed in the midst of the chaos.
The Historic Calypso Show
The 1948 London West End Musical "Calypso" was the first London play to have a West Indian theme and a Caribbean Cast.
The Coloured Bar in Oxford Street
Did you know that Jocelyn Barrow led a successful campaign to remove the Colour Bar that existed in all the shops in the iconic Oxford Street and Regent Street in the early 1960's? Black or Asian Workers were not allowed to work in shop fronts serving customers.Barrow was the General Secretary for the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination(CARD). CARD played a major role in persuading the Government to pass the 1968 Race Relation Act which covered employment.
Labouring Hard At Sea
Did you know that before the 2nd World War started, 1 in 4 of Labourers in British Shipping were Indian ? This numbered around 50,000 workers
Visiting The Doctor For Herbal Remedies
In London in the 1850's, a common sight was a Doctor Bonkanky who was an Indian Street Herbalist who had a remedy for most aches and pains from headache to toothache.
Dancing In The Streets and Houses
Calypso is seen as the first musical culture bought to the UK by Afro-Caribbean migrants. Although associated most with Trinidad & Tobago, the sound in fact originated from African "Highlife" Music.
Rehman The First
Zeshan Rehman was the first British Asian to start a Premier League match. It was for Fulham in a goalless draw at Anfield against Liverpool on 17 April 2004.
Leashley The First ?
According to public records, the first Black man recorded as a Prize Fighter was a Joe Leashley -a man of African descent who defeated a Tom Treadway in June 1791. He was reported as having great skill, craft and knowledge of the Art before knocking out his opponent after 35 minutes. No such thing as 3 minute rounds then.
A Blatant Act of Discrimination
Did you know that the 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act was steamrolled through Parliament in just three days?. Its sole aim was to restrict the right of Kenyan Asians holding British Passports to enter Britain.
The Somerset Open & Shut Case Against Slavery ?
Somerset v Stewart (1772) 98 ER 499 is a famous judgment of the Court of King's Bench in 1772, which held that chattel slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales, although the position elsewhere in the British Empire was left ambiguous.So it confirmed Slavery was NEVER legal in England and Wales.
10 Years after the landing of The Windrush in 1948, there were around 125,000 West Indians in the UK. In that same period around 55,000 migrants from India and Pakistan also arrived.
Right Up Your Street ?
South Asians have also played a pivotal role in rejuvenating a number of UK street markets. According to the New Economics Foundation, Queen's Market in Upton Park, East London is officially the most ethnically diverse.
First Among Equals
When Baron Singh of Wimbledon was introduced in the House of Lords on 24 October 2011, he became the first member of the House of Lords to wear a turban
Welch Sweet Music
Elisabeth Welch was one of the first Black people to have her own BBC radio series in 1935, Soft Lights and Sweet Music, which made her a household name in Britain.
Sancho The Pioneer
Ignatius Sancho was a composer, actor, writer and businessman. He was believed to be the first Black person ever to have voted in Britain in 1774 and 1780. Sancho was also the first African writer whose work was published in England
The 1958 Anti Black Riots
The Notting Hill area of London and in Nottingham saw a short but vicious outbreak of anti-black rioting in the summer of 1958. The following year a young black man named Kelso Cochrane was murdered in North Kensington. His killer was never found.
Paul The Firsts
Paul Ince was the first black player to captain England, when he took the armband in a tour match against the USA in 1993 and was also the first black Briton to manage a top flight team in England (Blackburn Rovers) in 2008
Indians Dock in England
Immigration of small numbers of South Asians to England began with the arrival of the East India Company to the Indian subcontinent in the 17th century. Indians came to Britain, for educational or economic reasons, during the British Raj, with most returning to India after a few months or years
13th Century Skilled Craftsmen
In Northamptonshire, financial records from 1205 show King John employed a man called 'Peter the Saracen' as a 'maker of crossbows'. The term 'saracen' was used to describe someone of North African or Middle Eastern origin. It suggests there may have been a presence of skilled African craftspeople in England dating back to the middle ages
The Real Thing
The Real Thing , based on number of sales, were the most successful black rock/soul act in England during the 1970s
Sikhs Bloody Sacrifice
In WW1 and WW2 , over 82,000 Sikhs died in both World Wars fighting for Britain and the Empire.
Arjun's Time in New York
Arjun, the British Asian singer-songwriter, performed at Times Square in New York, USA, in September 2014, before a small gathering of 200,000 people
The First Black Pro Footballer
Britain's first professional black footballer emerged from the North East. Arthur Wharton was born in Ghana but moved to Darlington to train as a Methodist preacher. He became the Amateur Athletic Association's 100 yards champion in 1886, bringing him to the attention of Darlington Football Club. He played as goalkeeper, before turning professional at Rotherham Town and later playing for Sheffield United. He was inducted into the Footballer's Hall of Fame in 2003.
Alridge The Actress Who Broke The Mould
In the 1890's, Ira Aldridge was one of the highest paid actors in the world at a time when black roles - such as Othello - were played by white men with blackened skin.
Khaliq Wins Historic Title
Jawaid Khaliq became the first British Asian boxing world champion winning the International Boxing Organization(IBO) welterweight title in June 2001
History of Race Riots In Britain
There have been 15 Race Riots in Britain since the arrival of HM Windrush in 1948:
1958 Notting Hill race riots
1975 Chapeltown riot
1980 St. Pauls riot
1981 Chapeltown riots
1981 England riots
1981 Moss Side riot
1981 Toxteth riots
1985 Brixton riot
1985 Broadwater Farm riot
1985 Handsworth riots
1989 Dewsbury riot
2001 Bradford riots
2001 Harehills riot
2001 Oldham riots
2005 Birmingham riots
Love Thy Neighbour.....unless They Are Black ?
Love Thy Neighbour was a British television sitcom, which was broadcast from 13 April, 1972 until 22 January, 1976, spanning seven series and 54 episodes. The series was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network.
It was hugely popular at the time of its broadcast; during an era in which Britain struggled to come to terms with its recently arrived population of black immigrants, Love Thy Neighbour exemplified this struggle. It aroused great controversy for many of the same reasons as the BBC's earlier Till Death Us Do Part had done.
11th Century African Presence in the UK
A skeleton of a female found in England may indicate the existence of a very small number of black people in Britain dating to the 11th century. In 2013, a skeleton was discovered in Fairford, Gloucestershire, which forensic anthropology revealed to be that of a sub-Saharan African woman. Her remains have been dated between the years 896 and 1025. Local historians believe she may have been a bonded servant
The Yorkshire African Connection
In 2007, scientists found the rare paternal haplogroup A1 in a few living British men with Yorkshire surnames. This clade is today almost exclusively found among males in West Africa, where it is also rare.
Amazing Beachy Head Discovery
In 1953, the remains of the Beachy Head Lady were found in East Sussex. The skeleton, which is thought to have originated from Sub-Saharan Africa, has been dated to around 245 AD
Home Away For Asians
Workers mainly from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan arrived in the late 1950's and 1960's. Many worked in the foundries of the English Midlands and a large number worked at Heathrow Airport in west London. This created an environment to where the next generation of families did not lose their identity as easily. An example would be Southall which is populated by many Sikhs.
The Early Employment Restrictions for Migrants
The Navigation Act of 1660 restricted the employment of non-English sailors to a quarter of the crew on returning East India Company ships.Seems the restriction of migrant workers happened 358 years before Brexit.
Hughes Huge Home For Minorities
In 1856 The Strangers' Home for Asiatics, Africans and South Sea Islanders was opened in Commercial Road, Limehouse under the manager Lieutenant-Colonel R. Marsh Hughes.
Salman Slammed For Satanic Verses
The publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses in 1988 caused major controversy. Muslims condemned the book for blasphemy. On 2 December 1988 the book was publicly burned at a demonstration in Bolton attended by 7,000 Muslims, followed by a similar demonstration and book-burning in Bradford on 14 January 1989.In 1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwā ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie
Moody - The Activist Doctor
In 1931, Dr Harold Moody founded the League of Coloured Peoples in 1931, the first Black pressure group and the largest British Pan-African organisation in the 1930s and 1940s.
Desai The Greatest Trade Unionist of All Time ?
Jayaben Desai was a prominent leader of the strikers in the epic 2 year Grunwick dispute in London , 1976-1978. The dispute about low pay and "Zoo like " treatment of the mainly East Indian Workers. The strike captured the imagination and support of the wider Trade Union movement that had previously marginalised immigrant workers. This was seen as a turning point in UK Race Relations.
Cuffay - A Cut Above The Rest
William Cuffay was a Black tailor who lived in London. He was one of the leaders and martyrs of the Chartist movement, the first mass political movement of the British working class.
Serjeant Making History
Since 1415 Serjeant at Arms has been responsible for security and keeping order within the parliamentary estate which includes the House of Commmons. The current Serjeant ,Karmal El-Hajji is the first with a black or minority ethnic heritage.
WASU -The Birth of Leaders
The West African Student Union (WASU) was one of the most important political organisations in Britain from the 1920s until the 1960s. Members included Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Joseph Appiah who played an important role agitating for an end to colonial rule in Britain's West African colonies.
One Million Reached
The tripling of Britain’s black population from 300,000 to 1 million from 1961 to 1964 led to increased racial and class tensions, especially in London’s Afro-Caribbean community. These tensions led to more police repression and the creation of the British Black Panther Party..
Asians Are The One in Ten
Did you know that The Centre for Social Markets estimates that British Asian businesses contribute as much as 10% of total GDP?.
Uddin Makes History
In 1998, Manzila Pola Uddin, Baroness Uddin became a British life peer and the first Muslim and second Asian woman to sit in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The Black Community
Black people were an integral part of 18th-century British society. They worked in a wide variety of occupations, reacted to atrocities, campaigned to end slavery, became political activists, and had a lively social life.
A strong support network existed among the Black population. For example, in June 1772 the Public Advertiser reported that 'a great number of Negroes, in and about the Metropolis', had raised a subscription to thank Lord Mansfield, believing that slaves in Britain had been emancipated by his ruling in the Somerset case. This legal victory was celebrated by a ball held at a Westminster pub, which attracted nearly 200 Black revellers.
The Black Pages
In London's coffee houses, Black children were sometimes sold as presents for upper-class ladies. Boys and girls with very dark complexions were particularly prized as pages; their 'blackness' helped to highlight the owner's pale complexion at a time when 'white' skin was seen as a sign of purity and beauty. These children were, in effect, viewed as pets by their owners.
How happy these pages were is questionable. Newspapers frequently carried advertisements for a 'pet' to be restored to his or her master or mistress.
Enoch Powell Welcomed Immigration to the UK. FACT
Enoch Powell is known best for his notorious "Rivers of Blood" Speech in 1968 about the perils of excessive immigration. In the early 1960s the Conservative Health Minister, who recruited a large number of doctors from the Indian sub-continent was called?....…Enoch Powell.
The First Black Mayor of Britain
Bahamian Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns became the first black mayor in Britain when he was elected Mayor of Thetford, Norfolk, in 1904
Servants and Ayahs
The presence of Black servants in Britain was confirmed in a report published in 1764. Africans and Asians were employed as domestic servants and footmen in a variety of households, some of them famous. Samuel Pepys, the 17th century diarist, employed a 'blackmore' cook, who, he said, 'dresses our meat mighty well'. Joseph Nollekens, Royal Academy sculptor, employed a Black female servant nicknamed 'Bronze'.
Doing Yourself Justice
Nathaniel Wells wasa Black Man active in his local community; he was appointed justice of the peace in 1803 and subsequently sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1818. His death at the age of 72 was recorded in the Gentleman's Magazine of 13 May 1852.
Hindoostanee -The 19th Century Indian Coffee House
Dean Mohamed was born in Patna in 1759 to an elite Muslim family. His ancestors had served the Mughal rulers. He joined the British army in 1769 and later accompanied his employer, Captain Baker, to Cork in Ireland. By 1810, he had started a new life in London, establishing the Hindoostanee Coffee House in Portman Square.
The Poor Lascars From London
In 1786, the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor was founded in response to the numbers of destitute Indians walking the streets of London. Lascars, the Indian sailors who worked on East India Company and other ships, were promised their passage home - but the Company did not always fulfil its responsibilities and many of them were set adrift in England.
The Slave Army
Did you know that by the end of the 18th century, the British army had become the biggest single purchaser of African slaves?. Over a 12-year period, an estimated 13,000 Africans were purchased to serve the Crown.
Survival of the Fittest ?
In the 18th Century, Black and Asian men were recruited into the military because the British thought they were better able to survive than White troops, at a time when many more soldiers were killed by disease than in battle. Malaria and yellow fever were common among the troops, and their diet lacked fruit and vegetables, leaving them vulnerable to illness.
Taken By Surprise
In 1787, while collecting evidence in Manchester for the anti-slavery campaign, Thomas Clarkson was astonished to find a 'great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit. There might be forty or fifty of them.'
No Mixed Blessings
'Mixed' marriages were not welcome by all in 18th Century Britain. In 1773, one outraged correspondent wrote to the London Chronicle begging the public to 'save the natural beauty of Britons' from contamination.
Billy The King of The Beggars
Billy Walters was a Black street busker who entertained London's public. He had fought in the American War of Independence but appears to have ended up on the streets of London as one of the Black poor. From workhouse records, it seems that Billy became ill and spent his final days at St Giles's Workhouse where he was elected 'the king of beggars'. A verse from his will reads:
Thus poor Black Billy's made his Will,
His Property was small good lack,
For till the day death did him kill
His house he carried on his back.
The Adelphi now may say alas!
And to his memory raise a stone:
Their gold will be exchanged for brass,
Since poor Black Billy's dead and gone.
Billy could often be seen outside the Adelphi Theatre, in the Strand, in the 1780s. He was identifiable by his wooden leg and military-style outfit, he was famously caricatured by the cartoonist George Cruickshank.
Captain Collingwood The Slave Killer
Captain Luke Collingwood faced with a large number of deaths due to overcrowding, had ordered that all sick Africans be thrown overboard. The aim was to protect himself and the ship's owners - for if sick slaves died a natural death, the owners of the ship received no compensation. If, however, to safeguard the safety of the ship, those deemed chattels were thrown overboard while still alive, the insurers would pay out.
The Boy in Brazil
Jamacian born John Barnes, played mainly for Watford & Liverpool and he won 79 caps for England.His wonder goal against Brazil in the Maracana Stadium in June 1984 is still remembered as one of the best solo goals ever scored by an Englishman.
Cugoano The Slave Who Spoke Out
Now known as Ghana, Ottabah Cugoano. publicly demanded the abolition of the slave trade, as well as the emancipation of slaves. He was kidnapped and enslaved. Cugoano came to England from Grenada around 1752 and was set free. In Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, published in 1787, he declared that enslaved people had both the moral right and the moral duty to resist their masters.
Shapurji the Hounded MP for Battersea
In 1922, Shapurji Saklatvala was elected MP for Battersea, with a majority of 2,000. Popular among his voters, he was re-elected on a Communist Party ticket in 1924, the only Communist to succeed.A powerful speaker,he was hounded and imprisioned because of his communist sympathies.
Ashwood - First Among Unequals?
Amy Ashwood Garvey was a playwright, lecturer and Pan-Africanist who founded the Nigerian Progress Union in London in 1924. She became an important figure in the anti-racist movement in England. In 1959, she chaired an enquiry into race relations following the racially motivated murder of Kelso Cochrane in London. In the wake of the Notting Hill riots in 1958, she co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People
The Birth of Curries in Britain
The earliest records of arrivals from the region that is now known as Bangladesh (was British India) are of Sylheti cooks in London during 1873, in the employment of the East India Company, who travelled to the UK as lascars on ships to work in restaurants
Lascars Die on Streets of London
In 1842, the Church Missionary Society reported on the dire ″state of the Lascars in London″ it was reported in the winter of 1850, 40 Asian men, also known as 'sons of India', were found dead of cold and hunger on the streets of London
The Black Musicians Who Served
There are many examples of Black men who served in the British army and the Royal Navy as musicians, drummers and trumpeters. Less well known are those who were professional or amateur musicians. Black artists from a variety of social backgrounds were performing in Britain from the 16th century. One such was Julius Soubise, the son of a Jamaican slave and protégé of the Duchess of Queensberry, who was a keen violinist.
Black Power in the UK
In 1967 British Black Panther party was established.British Black Panthers engaged in a struggle with the Metropolitan Police over issues of immigration, blackness, violence, anti-imperialism, and social space.
The Ivory Bangle Lady
One of the richest inhabitants of fourth century Roman York, buried in a stone sarcophagus with luxury imports including jewellery made of elephant ivory, a mirror and a blue glass perfume jar, was a woman of black African ancestry, a re-examination of her skeleton has shown.
50 Years of Hope
The 1968 Race Relations Act (under which it was illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to someone because of their race or ethnic background) celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October 2018.
To Be Or Not To Be ?
The legendary William Shakespeare is well known for his fantastic Poems, Play’s and Odes but not for his alleged friendship with an African woman.
In for a Penny In For A Guinea
Not for nothing did a coin - the guinea - derive its etymology from the West African region of that name, the area from which hundreds of thousands of indigenous people were seized against their will. For traders of 17th- and 18th-century Britain, the African was literally a unit of currency.
Ranjitsnhji The First
In 1896, K S Ranjitsinhji made his test match debut at Old Trafford stadium against Australia. Thus becomng the first Indian to play for England
Dame Shirley Bassey, the Black Legendary Singer from Wales is still the only Artist to Record Three James Bond Theme Tune Singles:
"Goldfinger" from the film Goldfinger (1964)
"Diamonds Are Forever" from the film Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
"Moonraker" from the film Moonraker (1979)
Stormzy's Grime First
Stormzy"Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr" . debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, was released on 24 February 2017 and was the first grime album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart.
Still Not Turning Around
Aswad are a long-lasting British reggae group, noted for adding strong R&B and soul influences to the reggae sound. They have been performing since the mid-1970s, having released a total of 21 albums. "Aswad" means "black" in Arabic.Among Aswad's catalogue of hits include "Don't Turn Around", a UK No. 1 hit in 1988, originally recorded by Tina Turner as a B-side to her "Typical Male" single
The Polish African In England
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (11 October 1778 – 29 February 1860)] was an Afro-European musician, born in Poland. He grew to be a virtuoso violinist, living in England for much of his life. He was born in Biała in Galicia, where his father worked for Hieronim Wincenty Radziwiłł, in 1778. He was baptised Hieronimo Hyppolito de Augusto on 11 October 1778
Garrison - The Black Cultural Archives Founder
Len Garrison founded the Black Cultural Archives in 1981. Now permanently located at Windrush Square, Brixton, it is committed to documenting, teaching and the development of educational resources about the history of the Black Britain
Oliver - A Twist In The Tale ?
Historian Jeffrey Green in his studying of back copies of The Times revealed that in 1834, when Charles Dickens was a journalist in London, aged 22, an interesting item was noticed.
Henry Murphy, ‘a black man’ aged about 60 had appeared at Bow Street court on 13 January 1834 charged with keeping a place for runaway children where they were compelled to ‘rob and beg for their suppers’. His ‘copper-coloured’ son John was also charged. Henry Murphy was surely an inspiration for Fagin in Dickens’s Oliver Twist of 1838: and his son was the Artful Dodger?
West Indian Regiment War Graves In Sussex
There are 19 graves of soldiers of the British West Indies Regiment in the military section of Seaford cemetery near the coast of Sussex where the regiment was stationed in the winter of 1915-1916.
The Prince, The Actor & The Racing Tips
From 1920 horse race fans in Britain became used to the black tipster Ras Prince Monolulu. Claiming to be a Jewish Ethiopian prince, but actually born in the Danish West Indies (St Croix) in 1881, he had travelled widely as an actor and entertainer. Now known to be Peter Carl MacKay, he died in England in 1965.
Black Britain In 1859
Jeffrey Green , the Historian reports that:
"The Morning Post (London) 10 Feb 1859 reported a coloured man named John Pieza withdrew his police court claim that his girlfriend’s brother had stolen his watch. They lived with the defendant’s mother in Walworth, south London. Three men accused of trying to strangle John Davids a coloured man from Ceylon [Sri Lanka] in a Liverpool pub said they put a rope round his neck “for a lark” but were found guilty and fined with costs (alternative: 2 months in prison) according to the Birmingham Daily Post 24 Feb 1859."
Colour Bar For Black Artists In London In 1903
The American In Dahomey show opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London in May 1903 and had considerable fame – the 100 plus mainly Black members performed for King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace in June. Still did not there cast members from being barred from drinking in many West End Pubs according to Newsaper reports at the time.
Into The Lions Den.....If You Are Black
An advetisement in the Era Magazine on 27 May 1898 advertised for a Lion Tamer for a vacancy at Chipperfield’s Menagerie at Chorley, Lancashire: ‘Coloured Man preferred’ was actually stated.
William Davidson - The Black Tailor Executed For Treason
In 1820 there was an attempt to assassinate Lord Liverpool and his entire cabinet and replace it with a people’s parliament. Known as "The Cato St conspiracy". What is not widely known is the fact that one of the plotters who was executed for high treason was black – William Davidson, born in Jamaica but lived in Glasgow and London and a tailor by trade.
The African Sacrifice in World War 2
The total number of East and West Africans who saw military service in the war was 374,000; 3,387 were killed and 5,549 were wounded.)
Alridge Remembered At The Old Vic
On Friday 24 September 2004, The Ira Alridge Memorial is unveiled at the Old Vic Theatre. Alridge, an Afro-American made his first known acting debut on the London stage in 1825 in the melodrama The Revolt of Surinam at the Royal Coburg Theatre (now the Old Vic). A framed 19th Century print portrait of Ira Aldridge was erected.
Black Pilots In The Battle Of Britain
One of the first West Indians to join the RAF, Vincent Bunting of Jamaica, participated in the Battle of Britain. By 1944, there were over 4,000 West Indians in the RAF, of whom some four hundred were air crew.
The Black & Asian Studies Association Make History
The Black and Asian Studies Association (BASA; till October 1997 ASCACHIB) was formed in 1991. The aim of the Association is to foster research and to disseminate information on the history of Black peoples in Britain. A Newsletter was published three times a year until 2013.
The Birth Of The Golliwog
A black-faced, shock-haired, fat red lipped and goggled-eyed character in brightly coloured clothes introduced to Britain in 1895 with the publication of Bertha and Florence Kate Upton’s The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls. Such was the popularity of the central Golliwog’s character that the Uptons produced twelve sequels until 1909, which were reprinted many times until the late 1970s
-‘ The Oxford Companion to Black British History, eds. D. Dabydeen, J. Gilmore and C. Jones (2007). Golliwog’, pp.191-2.
No Black Slaves Made In England
No statutes codifying modern slavery were ever passed in England. The only forced labor recognized in English law was feudal villeinage, which had died out by the seventeenth century. Confusion arose when Englishmen began to bring blacks they had legally bought as slaves in the colonies back to England. The colonial legislatures had laws to define slave status, but English law did not.
-'English Common Law, Slavery and' (Vol. I, pp. 200-203)
Moors Nicked In 17th Century England
In September 1615, a Ratcliffe mariner named Thomas Jeronimo, his wife Helen and a musician named John Anthony all appeared at the Middlesex Quarter Sessions. Helen was suspected of stealing ‘14 bookes of callikoe, 26 pieces of pachers and 108 lb. of suger’ from a merchant named Francis Pinto. Both men were described as ‘Maurus’ - meaning ‘moor’. (LMA MJ/SR/S53, nos. 112, 113; British History Online.)
Shakespeare, Othello & Mixed Relationships in England
Abstract: Shakespeare's tragedy of Othello and Desdemona has long attracted critics to consider the issues of interracial relationships and miscegenation in early modern England. More recently, other black characters have been found in Renaissance literature and an African presence in 16th and 17th century England has been demonstrated from archival sources.
The Non Slave Blacks in Britain
The legacy of villeinage coupled with the strong rhetoric of freedom in legal and popular discourse ensured that Africans in Britain were not viewed as slaves in the eyes of the law. Neither were they treated as such. They were paid wages, married, and allowed to testify in court. Those scholars who have sought to place the origins of racial slavery in Elizabethan and early Stuart England must now look elsewhere.
"Africans in Britain, 1500-1640'- Oxford D.Phil. thesis (2011)."
African in 13th Century England Discovered ?
An African presence in Britain dating around the 13th Century was discovered when a skeleton was examined by the BBC History Cold Case team. The skeleton was found to have come from a medieval Christian cemetery in the grounds of a monastery in Ipswich. Carbon dating, bone analysis and DNA tests revealed the man was born sometime between 1190 and 1300 in North Africa and that he had lived in Britain or an equally cold, damp climate for at least the last ten years of his life. Nine other African skeletons have been found in the Ipswich cemetery and these people seem to have come from sub-Saharan Africa.
Baptisms & Burials -18th Century Blacks In Exeter
Exeter (Holy Trinity), burial of Robert Hill, a black servant from the Devon & Exeter Hospital, 8 May 1791
Exeter (St David's), baptism of Anne Hobbs, a black woman, 7 August 1772
Exeter (St David's), baptism of Thomas Walker, a black boy, 4 December 1778
African Times Makes History In London in 1912
The ‘Africa Times and Orient Review’ is the first political journal produced by and for Black people ever published in Britain. Duse Mohamed Ali, an Egyptian Nationalist and Pan Africanist Journalist founded The African Times and Orient Review in London in July 1912. It was printed in Fleet Street in London. Marcus Garvey was a staff writer at the newspaper.
Post War Black Talent Leads In London
7 October 1947 - Evelyn Dove Edric Connor, Mable Lee, Cyril Blake and his Calypso Band, Buddy Bradley, Winifred Atwell, and Adelaide Hall plus others performed in Variety in Sepia, an early example of a UK television special dedicated to Black talent, filmed live at the RadiOlympia Theatre, Alexandra Palace, London, and aired on BBC TV.
The Leadership of Amy Garvey
Amy Ashwood Garvey (1897- 1969) was a playwright, lecturer and Pan-Africanist who founded the Nigerian Progress Union in London in 1924. She became an important figure in the anti-racist movement in England. In 1959, she chaired an enquiry into race relations following the racially motivated murder of Kelso Cochrane in London. In the wake of the Notting Hill riots in 1958, she co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.
Henry The First
Henry Sylvester Williams (1869-1911) helped to found the African-Association, which lobbied for human rights in the colonies and was instrumental in holding the first Pan-African Conference in London (1900).
Too Many Blacks In 18th Century London
In 1788, Philip Thicknesse bemoaned the fact that: '... London abounds with an incredible number of these black men [...] in almost every village are to be seen a little race of mulattoes, mischievous as monkeys and infinitely more dangerous'.
Racist Murders Strike Britain
Between 1976 and 1981, 31 Black and Asian people were murdered in racist attacks in Britain including Teenager Gurdip Singh Chaggar,Malcom Chambers,Akhtar Ali Baig and Michael Ferreria
STILL Bending Like Beckham
The 2002 Film "Bend it Like Beckham" is still the most successful British Asian themed film ever. To date it has grossed over £58m ($75m) in worldwide sales.
Sade Leaves Others in The Shade.
Helen Folasade Adu known as "Sade" is the most successful solo British female artist in history.Sade's US certified sales stand at over 23.5 million units and the band has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
Souza The Art Giant
From 1956 to 1966, Indian born Francis Newton Souza was arguably the most dominant Artist in Britain , exhibiting and outselling all other Artists in Britain during this period.
England and the Rise of African Leadership
London and Manchester were key locations for the development of Pan-Africanism -a rejection of colonial rule in favour of nationakl independence. From holding major Conferences in 1921 and 1945 to educating future African Leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta.
Race, Riots & Lynchings in England
The end of World War I saw a marked increase in Black Brtish Seaman being refused work on British ships in favour of white nationals and other foreigners. Tensions began to rise in areas such as Cardiff, Liverpool and Newport and local and national newspapers coverng the Race Riots that broke out in the summer of 1919 mentioned murders by lynch mobs of Black citizens.
East Points To BAFTA
The 1999 British Asian Themed Film "East is East" won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards, and was declared Best Comedy Film at the British Comedy Awards.
Indian Troops To The Rescue
28,500 Indidan Troops helped shore up the depleted British Troops in Egypt in World War 1 on 26th September 1914. 16,000 British reinforcements arrived at the same time.
Michael X The UK Based Revolutionary
Michael X (1933-1975) was a Triandian born but London based black civil rights and revolutionary. He was the first man to be convicted under the 1967 Race Relations Act and led a Black Panther commune in North London. In 1975 he ws hung in Triandad for murdering a fellow activist who had refused to attack a local police station.
The Great Indian War Effort
India lost 65,000 Soliders fighting alongside Britain in World Was II. Overall India had 180,000 casualties. Their bravery is reflected in the more than 1,400 military awards Indian Soliders received including 31 Victoria Crosses - the highest Military Award.
Sancho the ex Slave Author and Shop Owner
Ignatius Sancho(1729-1780) was an an 18th Century ex Slave who became a Shop Owner in London , Music Composer and accomplished Author. Indeed after his death, over 1,000 people subscribed to see his letters including the Prime Minister, Lord North
A True Wynters Tale
In 1596 at the request of his Master, Sir Edward Wynter, a Black Servant called Edward Swarthye gave an authorised public beating to a well educated white servant of his Master
The Indian Shipping Force
Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, 38% of theworkforce on British Ships were Indian. With the outbreak of the War, the recruitment of Indian workers increased significantly.
Sade - Diamond For Ever ?
The 1984 Debut Album of of Sade Adu (known as Sade ) called Diamond Life STILL remains the most successful debut Album by any Black Female Artist to this day.
Poetry Publication Takes Off in London
Poetry London was a Bi-Monthly publication started by a Tamil from Ceylon called JM Tabinmuttu in1939. It continued until 1951 before being revived in its current format in 1988.
First Black Bishop
Samuel Crowther(1806-1892) was the first Black man on record to be ordained as a Bishop. This was for the United Church of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Samuel Ajayi Crowther was born in Nigeria.
Early Indians in Britain
The formation of the East India Company in the 17th Century indicates by Company records that there were many applications for the return of Indian servants to their Ships that travelled between England and India between 1690 and 1702. The first indications of "working visas" perhaps.
Meghan The Second
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is NOT the first mixed race Member of the Royal Family. This was in fact, Charlotte Sophia(1744-1818) who was the Queen Consort to George III the Third. they produced 15 children . Sophia is the Great Grandmother of the current Queen's late Father - George VI.
The Powerful Indian Pound
Indians in 18th Century Georgian England were responsible for the purchase of many of the magnifiicent Estates in England and indeed the Indian pound in England extended to purchasing some seats to sit in the House of Commons as unlected Members of Parliament.
Words Speak Louder Than Action
The Slave Trade Act of Great Britain was passed in 1807. However, no Slaves were set free because of the the Act
Equiano's Mighty Pen
Olaudah Equiano, ex -slave and now active abolitionist ,published his autobiography in 1789 The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African' . This insight into the horrific slavery helped influence British lawmakers to abolish transatlantic enslavement through the Slave Trade Act of 1807
Serious Immigration Curbs
The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and Immigration Act 1971 largely restricted any further "No ties to Britain" primary immigration, although family members of already-settled migrants were still allowed.
The Black Mayor of Battersea
John Richard Archer became London's first Black Mayor on 10th November 1913 aged fifty years old when he was elected mayor of Battersea
The Black Emperor who Lived In York
Septimus Severus, the Black Emperor and the World's richest man ever, was born in Libya but spent his last three years in Britain before he died in York in 211AD.
Indian Workers Unite
The Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) was founded in 1958 from a number of existing organisations. It campaigned on social and welfare issues including discrimination. It had good links with the British trade union movement. Key figures were Avtar Jouhl and Jagmohan Joshi.
Una The Uno At The BBC
Una Marson was the first Black female broadcaster at the BBC from 1939 to 1946. She was a poet, publisher and activist for racial and sexual equality. She was a secretary to the League of Colored Peoples as well as many other organisations including the Women's International League for Peace.
By Royal Appointment
In the Tudor Times(1485-1603)Henry VII and Henry VIII employed black musicians and servants in their courts.