On This Day

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

February 2015

17 February 2015 - Abid Naseer, a man who plotted a terrorist attack on a shopping centre in Manchester in 2009, which would have reportedly only come second to the September 11 attacks in its impact, stands on trial in the United States.


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February 2010

16 February 2010 - Blue Plaque is unveiled of Pablo Fanque (born William Darby 30 March 1810 in Norwich, England; died 4 May 1871 in Stockport, England) was an English equestrian performer and circus proprietor, the first non-white British circus owner in Britain. His circus was the most popular in Victorian Britain for 30 years a period that is regarded as the golden age of the circus.

Since the late 20th century, Pablo Fanque has been best known from being mentioned in The Beatles song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" on their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

February 1954

15 February 1954 -The Movement for Colonial Freedom was a political civil rights advocacy group founded in the United Kingdom by Fenner Brockway. It had the support of many MPs including Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle and Tony Benn. It also had backing among celebrities such as Benjamin Britten and in the universities. In 1970 the Movement was renamed Liberation.

February 1997

 14 February 1997 - The Daily Mail newspaper uses its front page to name the five men it says killed Stephen Lawrence. It invites them to sue if it is wrong.

February 1997

13 February 1997 - The Stephen Lawrence Inquest resumes and the five suspects refuse to answer questions. A verdict of unlawful killing "in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five youths" is delivered by Sir Montague.

February 1994

12 February 1994 - Colin Jackson,World Outdoor 110m Hurdles Champion & World Record Holder, adds the indoor 60m Hurdles record to his collection with a time of 7.36 at an Athletics Meeting in Glasgow Scotland.   

February 1985

11 February 1985 - Sade Wins Best Album at the BRIT Awards with Diamond Life

February 2014

10 February 2014Stuart McPhail Hall, FBA  a Jamaican-born cultural theorist, political activist and sociologist dies. See Heroes section for full biography. 

February 1998

9 February 1998  - Finley Quaye wins Best Male Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards

8 February 1967

Circa 8 Feburary 1967 - The  British Black Panther party established.Inspired by the Black Power movement in the U.S., the Nigerian playwright, Obi Egbuna, founded the British Black Panthers (BBP) in  London’s Notting Hill. (Picture is from the 1970's)

February 1986

8 February 1986 -  Billy Ocean started a four week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going', as featured in the film 'The Jewel Of The Nile.' The video was banned in the UK because it featured non-musician union members.

February 2018

7 February 2018 - A cutting-edge scientific analysis shows that a Briton from 10,000 years ago had dark brown skin and blue eyes.

Researchers from London's Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903. University College London researchers then used the subsequent genome analysis for a facial reconstruction.

It underlines the fact that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon. No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed.

As such, the analysis provides valuable new insights into the first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.


With thanks to the BBC for the above information.

February 2009

6 February 2009 -Bashir Ahmad who made history when he was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent the Glasgow region at the 2007 election,dies. He was the first MSP to be elected from Asian-Scots, Muslim and non-White backgrounds. See Hall of Fame for more information

February 2011

5 February 2011 -David Cameron criticises "state multiculturism" in his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and causes of terrorism.

The Labour MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker, asked if it was wise for Mr Cameron to make the speech on the same day the English Defence League staged a major protest in his constituency.

There was further criticism from Labour's Sadiq Khan whose comments made in a Daily Mirror article sparked a row.

The shadow justice secretary was reported as saying Mr Cameron was "writing propaganda material for the EDL".

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi hit back, saying that "to smear the prime minister as a right wing extremist is outrageous and irresponsible". She called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to disown the remarks.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain's assistant secretary general, Dr Faisal Hanjra, described Mr Cameron's speech as "disappointing".

February 1998

4 February 1998 - Death of James Tossell,16,  in Kengfig Hill near Bridgend, Wales. 

James and his friend, Steven Gibbs, were racially abused and attacked by a gang of youths who threw bricks at Steven’s home where James and Steven had barricaded themselves. The flat was later set alight and James died. Charges against two youths were dropped because of insufficient evidence.The CPS also decided there was insufficent evidence to prosecute the officers involved in the investigation.

With thanks to the Institute of Race Relations for the above information.

February 1916

3 February 1916 - The Afro-American Singing Quartet record the song "Circus Day in Dixie", in London. It was regarded as quite a revolutionarysong in terms of music at the time with the range of instruments used and the way in which they were used e.g a fast paced rhythm forcing people to dance faster. It introduced black music to a new audience. The sound was later to evolve into the new "Jazz sound" 

February 2008

2 February 2008 - The BBC last night launches an inquiry into a job advertisement that appeared to flagrantly breach the Race Relations Act by seeking an Oriental or Asian person to front a new series. The makers of a ten-part BBC2 science programme sent a wish list of attributes they were looking for to, among others, casting directors, agents and management companies.

It said they were seeking a "young, zany Oriental or Asian person with a science background". But even the science background could be ditched, the advert implied, for the right ethnic man or woman.


A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: "If a complaint was made to us about this we would take it very seriously and look into exactly what the message said."

A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: "Messages were sent to various organisations from a member of the production team of a science programme.

"The wording of the messages was inappropriate and they should not have been sent out. It is now an internal matter.

February 1939

1 February 1939 Poetry London (1939–50) is first published by Ceylon-born editor M J Tambimuttu. the publication  revived poetry in war-time London, publishing work by poets such as Dylan Thomas and William Empson and artists like Barbara Hepworth. See Hall of Fame for biography on M J Tambimuttu. 

January 2015

31 January 2015 - Black Europe – The Sounds And Images Of Black People In Europe Pre 1927   is launched by Bear Records of Germany.It is a 44-CD Box Set (LP-Size) with two 300-page hardbound books, 1244 tracks. Total playing time: 56hours 26minutes 27seconds. The collection is nominated for a Grammy Award.

The concept of the project states " Black men and women – long present in Europe – have long been overlooked as pioneering personalities in modern mass media. From the early years of the recording industry, people of African descent were featured on European phonograph cylinders, gramophone discs and in movies and still images."

January 1978

30 January 1978 - Opposition Leader, Magaret Thatcher makes these infamous remarks that bought back echoes of Enoch Powells comments almost 10 years earlier:

"I think it means that people are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture and, you know, the British character has done so much for democracy, for law and done so much throughout the world that if there is any fear that it might be swamped people are going to react and be rather hostile to those coming in." A few days later Ex-Primeminister Edward Heath crticises his successor as Conservative Party Leader for causing "...an uncessary national row"

January 2000

29 January 2000- Former Heavyweight Champion of the World continues his boxing comeback since his Rape conviction  vs  British journeyman Julius Francis  in Manchester   in what would be his first fight in Europe and his first outside the United States since his 1990 loss to James "Buster" Douglas.  

At the age of 35, Francis was decked five times and lost in two rounds, although enjoyed the biggest payday of his career (around £350,000). The certainty of his defeat can be gauged by the fact that The Mirror, a national newspaper in the UK, had paid £20,000 for an advert on the soles of Francis's shoes


January 1997

28 January 1997 -Musician , Michael Menson is  found on fire on the North Circular Road, Edmonton, north London by the Police. The Police for some reason believed Mr. Menson set himself on fire despite the evidence given to the hospital by the victim this this was a racial attack by a group of men who also abused him. 

See Timeline 13  February 1997.



January 1970

29 January 1970 - Special Constable Harbans Singh Jabbal becomes  the first British policeman in the Metropolitan Police to wear a turban on duty when he went out on patrol from  East Ham police station.

Photo: Getty Images.

January 1916

26 January 1916 - Recruits for the British West Indies Regiment from Trinidad and Barbados are  sworn in by the Lord Mayor of London (from Illustrated War News, )

January 2019

25 January 1906 - Birth of Caroline Amy Aileen Barbour-James who was active in the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) becoming its Secretary in 1942.

See full biography in Hall of Fame.