On This Day

In this section, we remember significant achievements and moments from Black and Asian history

March 1952

23 March 1952 - Pauline Enriques and Sam Sevlon Broadcasting from the BBC on the programme "Caribbean Voices".  Caribbean Voices was a radio programme broadcast by the BBC World Service from Bush House in London, England, between 1943 and 1958. It is considered "the programme in which West Indian literary talents first found their voice, in the early 1950s. See Hall of Fame for full biography


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March 2017

22 March 2017 -Four people die and at least forty others are injured in what is treated as a terrorist attack in London, when a male car driver, later identified as Khalid Masood, ploughs through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death at the Palace of Westminster. Police later shoot Masood dead. In response, the Houses of Parliament are placed in lockdown for four hours, as is the London Eye and Whitehall, and the devolved Scottish Parliament suspends a debate on a second Scottish independence referendum.

The number of fatalities in the Westminster attack increased to six on 6th April 2017 as a Romanian woman, rescued after falling into the Thames but with serious injuries, dies in hospital.

March 1922

23 March 1922 - The continued struggle of "coloured people" to gain employment on London Buses  came into focus when a question was asked in the House of Commons.  J. McDonald Robertson, a “West Indian” had been a driver in the Army Service Corps May 1915-May 1916, and March 1917-July 1919 (3 years war service: he had a 30% pension), and had left the army with a “good” character. He wanted to be a London taxi driver but the police had refused. He had trained under the Ministry of Labour’s scheme for six weeks, and had been a resident of Britain for twenty years. The questioner was told that the licence would be issued subject to the usual tests. The file noted applicants cannot “be refused licences on the ground of colour alone”.


With thanks to www.jeffreygreen.co.uk for the above information.

March 2015

21 March 2015 - Research by Institute of Race Relations accuses state institutions of ongoing prejudice and ‘culpable lack of care’

More than 500 black and ethnic minority individuals have died in suspicious circumstances while in state detention over the past 24 years, but not a single official has been successfully prosecuted, a report examining institutional racism has revealed.

The report, by the Institute of Race Relations, concludes that too little has changed to prevent black and Asian people dying in detention and that seemingly racist attitudes remain a concern, with a “large proportion of these deaths involving undue force and many more a culpable lack of care”.

Extract from Report by the Observer

March 1974

20 March 1974 -' School protest starts to "Free the Brockwell Three". This is an account of the lead up to the event.

In 1973 a youth was stabbed while in a queue at a fish and chip shop in South London. The police arrived and a crowd gathered. The police began to panic and tried to push the crowd back, but the crowd was under pressure from people pouring out of a fair in Brockwell Park. The police drew their truncheons and laid into the crowd. A general fight developed, a policeman was hurt and reinforcements sent for. A police riot ensued; they attacked people all around them and lost control of themselves. Three black youths were arrested... and each given three years in prison. One later won an appeal against conviction, but the other two were not so lucky... After this the stunned black community in Brixton began to mobilise. On 20 March [1974] a meeting was held in Brixton town hall at which a fund was started for the three and a committee formed to campaign for them. On the 27th the Tulse Hill Students' Collective organised a meeting attended by 70 children from nine to 17 years old. The collective which had raised £100, urged other schools to raise money. At the meeting a Black Students' Action Committee was formed. On 30 March, a 500-strong demonstration and a public meeting took place to spread information about the case. Then on 3 April 1,000 school pupils, most of them black, came out on strike. They held a rally and march - parading past the local court, the police station, Tulse Hill School, where another 100 pupils joined them, and Brockwell Park.


With thanks to transpotblogspot.co.uk for the above information.

March 1994

19 March 1994 -Herbie Hide becomes WBO World Heavyweight Champion by knocking out defending Champion Michael Bentt in the 7th Round in Millwall, London. Bentt was hospitalised and never fought again.

March 1925

18 March 1925 -The Special Restriction (Coloured Alien Seamen's) Order is described by Laura Tabili as 'the first instance of state-sanctioned race discrimination inside Britain to come to widespread notice' (p. 56). The work of the Home Office Aliens Department, the Order was issued under Article II of the Aliens Order of 1920 and stated that 'coloured' seamen who did not possess documentary proof of their status as British must register as 'aliens' in Britain 'whether or not they have been in the United Kingdom for more than two months'. Police were to apprehend 'coloured' men disembarking from ships and report them to the police if they failed to show their documentation. In practice, it was not easy for 'coloured' seamen to prove that they were British subjects because sailors were not required to carry passports and, unlike those of their white counterparts, 'coloured' seamen's discharge certificates were not considered proof of their nationality because of allegations of trafficking in these papers.

Reasons for the issue of the Order are various and debated. In a letter dated 14 August 1926, the Under-Secretary of State cites the demands made at the end of the First World War by the National Sailor and Fireman's Union that 'steps should be taken to restrict the admission to this country of coloured seamen who could not establish that they were British subjects, since they competed in the overstocked labour market for seamen and were a source of grave discontent among British sailors', and claims that the accumulation of 'coloured seamen' in certain ports 'was a continual source of irritation and...likely to lead to a breach of the peace' (HO 45/12314). However, by the mid-1920s, employment in the shipping industry was beginning to pick up, which calls these reasons into question. Further, historians have recently questioned the role of the Union in pushing forward this piece of legislation, arguing that it was the state that played a more significant role.

State officials, determined to deport 'coloured' seamen, interpreted and enforced the rules rigidly, depriving these men of their citizenship. The India Office and Colonial Office received numerous protests from seamen who claimed that police were using the order to target men who were obviously British subjects. Further, officials erroneously applied the rules to non-seamen, for example registering 63 Glasgow-based Indians, most of whom worked as peddlers and labourers, as 'aliens'. Indians in Liverpool protested in the form of a public rally and through founding the Indian Seamen's Union, led by N. J. Upadhyaya. The India Office, fearful of the public outcry triggered by the Order in India, reprimanded the Home Office, even suggesting that all Indians should be issued with passports - a suggestion that was not received favourably by the Home Office. Finally, it was agreed that Indian seamen registered as 'aliens' could apply to the Home Office to have their British nationality verified. They would then be issued with a Special Certificate of Identity and Nationality which would enable their registration to be cancelled. The Order was finally revoked in 1942.

With thanks to the Open University for the above information

March 1906

17 March 1906 - James "Darkie", Peters wins  his début  Rugby Union cap  for England against Scotland. However, The Yorkshire Post pointed out, "his selection is by no means popular on racial grounds". On his performance The Sportsman commented that the "dusky Plymouth man did many good things, especially in passing." He was to play a further game, against France, in which he scored a try. See Hall of Fame for Biography.

March 1966

16 March 1966 -  Mohammed Daar became a Police Constable  in Coventry with West Midlands Police  and the first Asian person to join the Police .

Mohammed Daar later reflected that he  not encounter racism and was accepted by colleagues and the public before leaving two years later. Later, his Brother also joined the Police force.


With thanks to the BBC for the above information.  

March 2011

15 March 2011 -" Smiley Culture" dies, reportedly from a self-inflicted stab wound, while the police were searching his house in Hillbury Road,Surrey. His death came an hour and a half after officers arrived with a search warrant relating to the import of Class A drugs into the UK.A post-mortem examination revealed that he had died from a single stab wound to the heart. -See Hall of Fame Section for full biography.

March 1945

14 March 1945- the League of Coloured Peoples held its Annual General Meeting in London. The agenda included the minutes of the 1944 AGM. That AGM had drafted a Charter of Rights for the Countries of the United Nations. Its aim was to commit these Governments to work urgently towards progressive, anti-discrimination and socio-economic policies that improved the environment and inclusion of coloured peoples.


With thanks to the Black & Asian Studies Association Newsletters 53 & 54 for the above information. 

March 1999

13 March 1999 - Americas' Evander Holyfield vs. Britains' Lennox Lewis, billed as "Undisputed", was a professional boxing match for the WBA  IBF(Holyfield and  the WBC/Lineal Heavyweight Championships(Lewis). The result was a draw or tie, specifically a split draw, which proved controversial  and only the fourth ever draw in Heavweight Boxing  History.

March 1958

12 March 1958 -From above a Barbers shop at 250 Brixton Road,exiled communist and now UK based Claudia Jones, launches Britain’s first black newspaper 'The West Indian Gazette

March 2002

11 March 2002 -The UK's first senior black Anglican bishop is  appointed to head the Church of England in Birmingham. The Right Reverend John Sentamu was made the new Bishop of Birmingham following an announcement made by Downing Street on Tuesday.


March 2011

10 March 2011 -The UK Asian Music Awards  event was held  at The Roundhouse, London and was sponsored by Lebara Mobile. The award winners were

Lifetime Achievement Award: Apache Indian

Commitment to Scene: Cornershop

Best Video: Jay Sean ft. Nicki Minaj – "2012 (It Ain't the End)"

Best Radio Show: Bobby Friction – BBC Asian Network

Best Urban Act: Mumzy Stranger

Best Desi Act: Jaz Dhami

Bestselling British Single: Punjabi By Nature ft. The Dhol Foundation - "Kaun Nee Jaandah"

Best International Album: DJ Sanj – American Desi

Best International Act: Miss Pooja

Best Music Producer: Sukshinder Shinda - Jadoo

Best Newcomer: Jernade Miah

Best Club DJ: DJ Kayper

Best Alternative Act: Rumer

Best Male Act: Jay Sean

Best Female Act: Preeya Kalidas

Best Album: Punjabi By Nature – CCutrowd Pleaser

March 2013

9 March 2013 -  the Daily Mirrror features the campaign of  Phil Vasili and Northampton South MP Brian Binley, first launced in December 2006, for Walter Tull(left in picture)  to be posthumously awarded the Military Cross. 95 Years after he was killed in action.



March 1941

8 March 1941- At  the Café de Paris , during The Blitz, that two bombs come through the roof straight onto the dance floor soon after the start of a performance. Time magazine reported that the orchestra was playing "Oh, Johnny, Oh Johnny, How You Can Love!" when the club was hit. Around 80 people were injured and at least 34 killed, including 26-year-old Ken "snakehips" Johnson ( See Hall of Fame for biography)  and his saxophonist, Dave "Baba" Williams.

March 2005

7 March 2005 -Mayor of London Report "Redefining BME Owned Business" establishes that "There are around 66,000 BME-owned businesses in London, employing 560,000 people and generating a combined sales turnover of £90 billion in 2004. In addition, there are approximately 93,000 self-employed people from BME communities who are also contributing to the London economy."

March 2002

6 March 2002 - The UK Asian Music Awards are  founded by Abs Shaid as "The Asian DJ and Music Awards". They were held at the Aquarium nightclub in London. The event was filmed by BBC2 and Zee TV, and was aired on BBC2s Network East. Among the winners was DJ Vix ( pictured) who won the Best Bhangra DJ Award. 


March 1990

5 March 1990 -The London Posse release their critically acclaimed album, Gangster Chronicle.Gangster Chronicle was their  debut album  Sparkii (Jus Badd Cru) produced six of the tracks (as well as remixing and re-recording Money Mad), Twilight Firm (DJ Devastate and Brian B) produced two tracks and the London Posse produced "Tell Me Something". It was originally released as an LP on Mango Records 

March 1924

4 March 1924 - Death of Fanny Eaton (Born 23 June 1835 ). Fanny 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

March 2010

3 March 2010 - Keith Alexander the the first full-time black professional manager in the Football League, dies from Brain Damage.Alexander, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 2003 when manager of Lincoln City, was taken to hospital before a match in March 2009 after complaining of feeling unwell but was later given a clean bill of health.Alexander was reported to be feeling unwell as he returned from a game at Notts County on 2 March 2010. He was taken to Lincoln Hospital after he had collapsed, and died shortly after at the age of 53. It was reported that Alexander had been suffering from a bout of hiccups three weeks before his death.Alexander had been due to take charge of his 100th game for Macclesfield Town the following weekend. 

March 1998

2 March 1998 -Operation Trident , or simply Trident is launched. It wasa Metropolitan Police Service unit originally set up in 1998 to tackle gun crime and homicide in London's black communities following a series of shootings in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Brent. By 2008 the unit was responsible for investigating all non-fatal shootings for the Metropolitan Police and in February 2012 the unit's remit was again expanded; the new Trident Gang Crime Command was launched incorporating responsibility for tackling wider gang crime. In 2013 the unit gave up responsibility for investigating fatal shootings which was taken over by the Homicide and Serious Crime Command.

March 1994

1 March 1994 - Sade wins her second Grammy Award for her 1993 hit No Ordinary Love. She is presented with the  Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.


February 1921

28 February 1921 - Donald Adolphus Brown was awarded the Edward Medal by King George V.

On 7th January 1919, whilst working as a foreman at the Royal Navy Ordnance Depot at Woolwich. Rockets and lights were being repacked, one of the rockets ignited and exploded, causing further explosions. He singlehandedly dragged a case of exploding rockets out of the depot preventing a more serious explosion and at great risk to himself.

Donald was born in 1875, Sheppey, Kent to William Brown, a Naval Petty Officer from Guyana and his English wife Elizabeth. He was married to Suffragette, Eliza Adelaide Knight in 1899.

Photo - Greenwich Local History Library