Black British: Wikis


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Black British
LordTaylorW.jpgNaomiCampbell.jpgEquianoExeterpainting.jpgDiane Abbott low quality.jpg
Adewalegfdl.PNGChriseubank.jpgChiwetel Ejiofor by David Shankbone.jpgPaul Ince.jpg
Naomie Harris 1.JPGAllsaints8.jpgEstelle Swaray.jpgThandieNewtonBAFTA07.jpg
IgnatiusSancho.jpgIdris Elba.jpgFrancis williams.jpgShaun Wright-Phillips warming up.jpg

Notable Black Britons (From top left):
John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick, Naomi Campbell, Olaudah Equiano, Diane Abbott, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Chris Eubank, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Ince, Naomie Harris, Shaznay Lewis, Estelle, Thandie Newton, Ignatius Sancho, Idris Elba,Francis Williams, Shaun Wright-Phillips

Total population
England England 1,447,900 (2007)[1]
Black Caribbean - 599,700
Black African - 730,600
Other Black - 117,600
Scotland Scotland 1,025 (2001)[2]
Black Caribbean - 1,778
Black African - 5,118
Other Black - 1,129
Wales Wales 7,069 (2001)[3]
Black Caribbean - 2,597
Black African - 3,727
Other Black - 745
Northern Ireland 1,136 (2001)[4]
Black Caribbean - 255
Black African - 494
Other Black - 387

(The figures above are the most recent available and include only Black British indviduals, not individuals of partial sub-Saharan African ancestry. The next UK census is to be performed in 2011)
Regions with significant populations
London, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Sheffield, West Yorkshire, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Leeds, Liverpool

English (British English, Black British English, Caribbean English, African English), African languages, others


Majority are Christian (71%), with minorities of Muslims (9%), Irreligious (8%) and others
2001 census[5]

Black British is a term which has had different meanings and uses as a racial and political label. Historically it has been used to refer to any non-white British national. The term was first used at the end of the British Empire, when several major colonies formally gained independence and thereby created a new form of national identity. The term was at that time (1950s) used mainly to describe those from the former colonies of Africa, and the Caribbean, i.e. the New Commonwealth. In some circumstances the word "Black" still signifies all ethnic minority populations.[6]

More recently it has come to define a British resident with specifically Sub-Saharan African ancestral origins, who self-identifies, or is identified, as "Black", African or Afro-Caribbean. Black British is used as a category in UK national statistics ethnicity classifications, where it is sub-divided into Caribbean, African and Other Black groups.



Historically, the term has most commonly been used to refer to those of New Commonwealth origin. For example, Southall Black Sisters was established in 1979 "to meet the needs of black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women".[7] (Note that "Asian" in the British context means from South Asia only.) "Black" was used in this inclusive political sense[8] to mean "not white British" - the main groups in the 1970s were from the British West Indies and the Indian subcontinent, but solidarity against racism extended the term to the Irish population of Britain as well.[9][10] Several organisations continue to use the term inclusively, such as the Black Arts Alliance,[11][12] who extend their use of the term to Latin America and all refugees,[13] and the National Black Police Association.[14] This is unlike the official British Census definition which adheres to the clear distinction between "British South Asians" and "British Blacks".[15] Note that because of the Indian diaspora and especially Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, many British Asians come from families that have spent several generations in the British West Indies or East Africa, so not everyone born in, or with roots in, the Caribbean or Africa can be assumed to be "black" in the exclusive sense;[16] Lord Alli is a good example.

Historical usage

Black British was also an identity of Black people in Sierra Leone (known as the Krio) who considered themselves British[17]. They are generally the descendants of black people who lived in England in the 18th century and freed Black American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolutionary War (see also Black Loyalists). In 1787, hundreds of London's Black poor (a category which included the East Indian seamen known as lascars) agreed to go to this West African country on the condition that they would retain the status of British subjects, to live in freedom under the protection of the British Crown and be defended by the Royal Navy. Making this fresh start with them were many white people, including girlfriends, wives and widows of the black men.[18]


16th century

Early in the 16th century Africans arrived in London when Catherine of Aragon travelled to London and brought a group of her African attendants with her[citation needed]. When trade lines began to open between London and West Africa, Africans slowly began to become part of the London population. The first record of an African in London was in 1593. His name was Cornelius. London’s residents started to become fearful of the increased black population. At this time Elizabeth I declared that black "Negroes and black Moors" were to be arrested and expelled from her kingdom[19].

17th-18th centuries

The slave trade

Seven African slaves in chains alongside two sailors at the Port of Liverpool
William Hogarth's engraving Four Times of the Day: Noon (1738) shows two black London residents.

During this era there was a rise of black settlements in London. Britain was involved with the tri-continental slave trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Black slaves were attendants to sea captains and ex-colonial officials as well as traders, plantation owners and military personnel. This marked growing evidence of the black presence in the northern, eastern and southern areas of London. There were also small numbers of free slaves and seaman from West Africa and South Asia. Many of these people were forced into beggary due to the lack of jobs and racial discrimination.[20][21]

The involvement of merchants from the British Isles in the transatlantic slave trade was the most important factor in the development of the Black British community. These communities flourished in port cities strongly involved in the slave trade, such as Liverpool (from 1730)[22] and Bristol. As a result, Liverpool is home to Britain's oldest Black community, dating to at least the 1730s, and some Black Liverpudlians are able to trace their ancestors in the city back ten generations.[23] Early Black settlers in the city included seamen, the children of traders sent to be educated, and freed slaves, since slaves entering the country after 1722 were deemed free men.[24]

The legality of slavery in England had been questioned following the Cartwright decision of 1569, when it was "resolved that England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in." From the early eighteenth century, there are records of slave sales and various attempts to capture Africans described as escaped slaves. The issue was not legally contested until the Somerset case of 1772, which concerned James Somersett, a fugitive black slave from Virginia. Chief Justice Mansfield (whose own presumed great-niece Dido was of mixed race) concluded that Somersett could not be forced to leave England against his will. (See generally, Slavery at common law.)

Around the 1750s London became the home of many of Blacks, Jews, Irish, Germans, and Huguenots. By the middle of the eighteenth century Blacks comprised somewhere between one and three percent of the London populace.[25] Evidence of the number of Black residents in London has been found through registered burials. The whites of London had widespread views that Black people in London were less than human; these views were expressed in slave sale advertisements. Some Black people in London resisted through escape[citation needed]. Leading Black activists of this era included Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho and Quobna Ottobah Cugoano.

With the support of other Britons these activists demanded that Blacks be freed from slavery. Supporters involved in this movements included workers and other nationalities of the urban poor. London Blacks vocally contested slavery and the slave trade. At this time the slavery of whites was forbidden, but the legal statuses of these practices were not clearly defined. Free black slaves could not be enslaved, but blacks who were bought as slaves to Britain were considered the property of their owners. During this era Lord Mansfield declared that a slave who fled from his master could not be taken by force or sold abroad. This verdict fueled the numbers of Blacks that escaped slavery, and helped send slavery into decline. During this same period many slave soldiers who fought on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War arrived in London. These soldiers were deprived of pensions and many of them became poverty-stricken and were reduced to begging on the streets. The Blacks in London lived among the whites in areas of Mile End, Stepney, Paddington and St. Giles. The majority of these people did not live as slaves, but as servants to wealthy whites. Many became labeled as the "Black Poor" defined as former low wage soldiers, seafarers and plantation workers.[26]

During the late 1700s there were many publications and memoirs written about the "black poor". One example is the writings of Equiano, who became an unofficial spokesman for Britain’s Black community. A memoir about his life and attributions in Black London is entitled, The Interesting Narratives of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

The Black Londoners, encouraged by the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, decided to immigrate to Sierra Leone to found the first British colony in Africa. They demanded that their status as British subjects be recognized, along with the duty of the Royal Navy to defend them.

The number of people in the United Kingdom with Black African origins was relatively small. There were, however, significant communities of South Asians, especially East Indian seamen known as lascars. In short, the links established through the British Empire led to increased population movement and immigration.

In a famous case, an Indian Briton, Dadabhai Naoroji, stood for election to parliament for the Liberal Party in 1886. He was defeated, leading the leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Salisbury to remark that "however great the progress of mankind has been, and however far we have advanced in overcoming prejudice, I doubt if we have yet got to the point of view where a British constituency would elect a black man".[27] This led to much discussion about the applicability of the term "black" to South Asians. Naoroji was subsequently elected to parliament in 1892, becoming the first Member of Parliament (MP) of Indian descent.

19th century

Coming into the early 19th century, more groups of black soldiers and seaman were displaced after the Napoleonic wars and settled in London. These settlers suffered and faced many challenges as did many Black Londoners. In 1807 the British slave trade was abolished and the slave trade was abolished completely in the British empire by 1834. The number of blacks in London was steadily declining with these new laws. Fewer blacks were brought into London from the West Indies and parts of Africa.[26]

The nineteenth century was also a time when "scientific racism" flourished. Many white Londoners claimed that they were the superior race and that blacks were not as intelligent as whites. They tried to hold up their accounts with scientific evidence, for example the size of the brain. Such claims were later proven false, but this was just one more obstacle for the blacks in London to hurdle over. The late 19th century effectively ended the first period of large scale black immigration to London and Britain. This decline in immigration gave way to the gradual incorporation of blacks and their descendents into this predominantly white society.

During the mid-19th century there were restrictions on African immigration. In the later part of the 19th century there was a build up of small groups of black dockside communities in towns such as Canning Town,[28] Liverpool, and Cardiff. This was a direct effect of new shipping links that were established with the Caribbean and West Africa.

Early 20th century

Members of the West India Regiment on the Somme, September 1916. All of the men pictured were African-Caribbeans who volunteered in the UK to fight for the British Army

Before the Second World War, the largest Black communities were to be found in the United Kingdom's great port cities: London's East End, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff's Tiger Bay, with other communities in South Shields in Tyne & Wear and Glasgow. The South Shields community (mostly South Asians and Yemenis) were victims of the UK's first race riot in 1919.[29] Soon all the other towns with significant non-white communities were also hit by race riots which spread across the Anglo-Saxon world. At this time, on Australian insistence, the British refused to accept the Racial Equality Proposal put forward by the Japanese at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. Australian soldiers were reported to be the leaders of the attacks on the Black community in Butetown, Cardiff.[30]

The Empire Windrush is extremely important within Black British history, as aboard the ship in 1948 was the first large wave of Jamaican immigrant to the UK

World War I

World War I was another growth period for blacks in London. Their communities grew with the arrival of merchant seaman and soldiers. At the same time there is also a continuous presence of small groups of students from Africa and the Caribbean slowly immigrating into London. These first communities which housed London’s first black immigrants survive and now are among the oldest black communities of London.

World War II

World War II marked another growth period for black immigrants into London and Britain societies. Many blacks from the Caribbean and West Africa arrive in small groups as wartime workers, merchant seaman, and servicemen from the army, navy, and air forces. It is estimated that approximately twenty thousand black Londoners lived in communities concentrated in the dock side areas of London, Liverpool and Cardiff. One of these black Londoners, Learie Constantine, who was a welfare officer in the RAF, was refused service at a London hotel. He stood up for his rights and later was awarded damages. This particular example is used by some to illustrate the slow change from racism towards acceptance and equality of all citizens in London.[31]

It was in the period after the Second World War, however, that the largest influx of Black people occurred, mostly from the British West Indies.Over a quarter of a million West Indians, the overwhelming majority of them from Jamaica, settled in Britain in less than a decade. In the mid-1960’s Britain had become the centre of the largest overseas population of West Indians.[32] This migration event is often labeled "Windrush", a reference to the Empire Windrush, the ship that carried the first major group of Caribbean migrants to the United Kingdom in 1948.[33] "Caribbean" is itself not one ethnic or political identity; for example, some of this wave of immigrants were Indo-Caribbean. The most widely used term then used was "West Indian" (or sometimes "coloured"). "Black British" did not come into widespread use until the second generation were born to these post-war immigrants to the country. Although British by nationality, due to friction between them and the white majority, they were often being born into communities that were relatively closed, creating the roots of what would become a distinct Black British identity. By the 1950’s, there was a consciousness of black people as a separate people that was not there between 1932 and 1938.[34]

Late 20th century

A scene during the 1980 St. Pauls riot
One of the few recent race riots occurred in Leeds in 2001

In 1962 the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed in Britain along with a succession of other laws in 1968, 1971, and 1981 that severely restricted the entry of Black immigrants into Britain. During this period it is widely argued that emergent blacks and Asians struggled in Britain against racism and prejudice.During the 1970’s – and partly in response to both the rise in racial intolerance and the rise of the Black Power movement abroad – ‘black’ became detached from its negative connotations, and was reclaimed as a marker of pride: black is beautiful.[34] In 1975 a new voice emerged for the black London population; his name was David Pitt and he brought a new voice to the House of Lords. He spoke against racism and for equality in regards to all residents of Britain. With this new tone also came the opportunity for the black population to elect four Black members into Parliament.

Since the 1980s, the majority of black immigrants into the country have come directly from Africa, in particular, Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, Kenya in East Africa, and Zimbabwe and South Africa in Southern Africa. Nigerians and Ghanaians have been especially quick to accustom themselves to British life, with young Nigerians and Ghanaians achieving some of the best results at GCSE and A-Level.[citation needed]The rate of inter-racial marriage between British citizens born in Africa and native Britons is still fairly low, compared to those from the Caribbean. This might change over time as Africans become more part of mainstream British culture as second and third generation African communities become established.

By the end of the 1900s the number of black Londoners numbered half a million, according to the 1991 census. An increasing number of these black Londoners were London- or British-born. Even with this growing population and the first blacks elected to Parliament, many argue that there was still discrimination and a socio-economic imbalance in London among the Blacks. In 1992 the number of blacks in Parliament increased to six and in 1997 they increased their numbers to nine. There are still many problems that Black Londoners face; the new global and high tech information revolution is changing the urban economy and some argue that it is driving unemployment rates among blacks up relative to non-blacks[citation needed], something which, it is argued, threatens to erode the progress made thus far.[26]

Race riots

The late 1950's through to the late 1980's saw some of the most violent riots in recent British history, a large number of these were in large British cities as a result of mounting tensions between the local black and white communities. The first major incident occurred in 1958 in Notting Hill and was thought to have been fuelled by a group of white youth's dislike of an interracial couple. A mob of 300 to 400 white people descended on a primarily Afro-Caribbean area and attacked houses across the neighbourhood. The 1980 St. Pauls riot in Bristol was also equally as violent resulting in numerous casualties, this incident was fuelled by the local Afro-Caribbean community believing they were being specifically targeted by the Sus law because of their race. 1981 brought another spate of riots, in Brixton 5,000 people were involved in a riot between the Metropolitan Police and local Afro-Caribbean community, the same happened further north in Toxteth, Liverpool. There was a nationwide wave of uprisings in the wake of the Brixton riots and riots occurred in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1981 and 1985 the local South Asian community also became involved in the former. Riots occurred elsewhere in Moss Side, Manchester and again in numerous places within Inner London. Surprisingly there was only one fatal riot (being the Broadwater Farm riot), and as deprivation and unemployment decreased, order was maintained and the frequency of race riots in the UK has decreased dramatically since. Despite this some members of the Black British community were involved in the 2001 Harehills race riot and 2005 Birmingham race riots.



In the 2001 UK Census, 565,876 people stated their ethnicity as Black Caribbean, 485,277 as Black African and 97,585 as Black Other, making a total of 1,148,738 in the census's Black or Black British category. This was equivalent to 2 per cent of the UK population at the time.[35]

Mid-2007 estimates for England only put the Black British population there at 1,448,000 compared to 1,158,000 in mid-2001.[36]

Population distribution

Like the African American community, most Black Britons can be found in the large cities and metropolitan areas of the country, there are almost 1 million Black Britons in London. According to 2005 estimates, cities with large and significant Black communities are as follows (London boroughs included)[37].

Large Black British Communities
Greater London 1,100,000
Birmingham Metro Area 176,700
Hackney, East London 67,104
Lambeth, South London 65,800
Southwark, South London 64,400
Lewisham, South London 63,700
Croydon, South London 55,900
Newham, East London 55,400
Brent, North West London 54,300
Haringey, North London 47,200
Waltham Forest, East London 39,300
Waltham Forest, East London 50,400
Greater Manchester 38,300
Redbridge, North East London 98,400
Leeds 21,000
Sheffield 18,300
Bristol 16,100
Wolverhampton 16,000
Hillingdon, West London 15,000
Liverpool 12,200
Coventry 11,800
Bradford 11,000
Sandwell 14,769

Areas with pop. over 7 million

Over 1 million

Over 700,000

Over 500,000

Over 400,000

Over 300,000

Over 200,000

Over 100,000

Over 50,000

Over 10,000

Culture and community


British Black English is a variety of the English language spoken by a large number of the Black British population of Afro-Caribbean ancestry.[38] The British Black dialect is heavily influenced by Jamaican English owing to the large number of British immigrants from Jamaica, but it is also spoken by those of different ancestry.

British Black speech is also heavily influenced by social class and the regional dialect (Cockney, Mancunian, Brummie, Scouse, etc.).


Black British music is a long-established and influential part of British music. Its presence in the United Kingdom stretches from concert performers like George Bridgetower in the eighteenth century to street musicians like Billy Waters.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, 2 Tone became popular with the British youth, especially in the West Midlands. A blend of punk, ska and pop made it popular with both white and black audiences. Famous bands include The Selecter, The Specials, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers.

Black British music sometimes reflects Caribbean influences or takes inspiration from Black American genres such as hip hop and rap. It has developed its own distinctive identity. Both Drum and Bass and Grime music were invented in London and involve a number of artists from Black African and Caribbean communities, most notably Jamaican, Ghanaian and Nigerian. Famous grime artists include Dizzee Rascal, Kano (rapper), Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk. It is now common to hear British MCs rapping in a strong London Accent. Niche, with its origin in Sheffield and Leeds, has a much faster bassline and is often sung in a northern accent. Famous Niche artists include producer T2.

Social issues

There is much controversy surrounding the politics of integrating the United Kingdom's black community, particularly concerning crime, discrimination in basic services, employment and education.

The poverty rate for the United Kingdom’s minority ethnic groups stands at 40%, double the 20% found amongst white British people, according to new research published in 2007 (30 April) by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). Minority ethnic groups are also being paid lower wages, despite improvements in education and qualifications. The research highlights the differences between minority ethnic groups with 45% of Black Africans and 30% of Indians and Black Caribbeans living in poverty. Over half of Black African children in the UK are growing up in poverty. The research shows that people from minority ethnic groups who have higher educational achievements do not receive the same rewards as those from white British backgrounds with similar qualifications. A wide range of factors are shown to affect different groups and the research highlights how the Government needs to consider and implement more targeted policies.

According to the TUC report Black workers, jobs and poverty,[39] people from black and Asian groups are far more likely to be unemployed than the white population, despite having the required skills and qualifications. The rate of unemployment among the white population is only 11%, but among black groups it is 13%, mixed-race 15%, Indian 7%, Pakistani 15% and Bangladeshi 17%. The usual argument to counter high unemployment rates among black and Asian people - namely that they lack the necessary skills and qualifications - does not bear merit, the report states. For example, 81.4% of black and Asian people with degrees are employed, compared with 87.4% of white people. This statistic however does not take account of the qualitative distinction of these degrees, since degrees vary greatly in their employabiilty. Furthermore, a white person whose highest qualification is GCSE’s at grades A-C is more likely to have a job than a black or Asian person with A-levels.

Both racist crime and black on black gang-related crime continues to affect black communities. Numerous deaths in police custody of black men have grown a general distrust of police amongst urban blacks in the UK. According to the Metropolitan Police Authority in 2002-2003 of the 17 deaths in police custody, 10 were black or Asian. The government reports[40] the overall number of racist incidents recorded by the police rose by 7% from 49,078 in 2002/3 to 52,694 in 2003/4.

The media has highlighted black gangs and black on black violence. According to the Home Office report,[40] 10% of all homicide victims between 2000 and 2004 were black. Of these, 56% were murdered by other blacks. Given that blacks represent approximately 3% of the British population, black on black violence is a significant problem.

Black people, who according to government statistics[41] make up 2% of the population, are the principal suspects in 11.7% of homicides, i.e. in 252 out of 2163 homicides committed 2001/2, 2002/3, and 2003/4.[42] It should be noted that, judging on the basis of prison population, a substantial minority (about 35%) of black criminals in the UK are not British citizens but foreign nationals.[43]

After several high-profile investigations such as that of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the police have often been accused of racism, from both within and outside the service. Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-racism unit in 2003, remarked that it was 'difficult to imagine a situation where we will say we are no longer institutionally racist'.[44]

Notable Black Britons

Crimean War nurse, Mary Seacole is dubbed as the Greatest Black Briton
Olaudah Equiano, a significant figure involved with he abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade
Shirley Bassey is the UK's most successful female artist of all time

Well-known Black Britons living before the twentieth century include the Chartist William Cuffay; William Davidson, executed as a Cato Street conspirator; Olaudah Equiano (also called Gustavus Vassa), a former slave who bought his freedom, moved to England, and settled in Soham, Cambridgeshire, where he married and wrote an autobiography, dying in 1797; Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, pioneer of the slave narrative; and Ignatius Sancho, a grocer who also acquired a reputation as a man of letters. In 2004, a poll found that people considered the Crimean War heroine Mary Seacole to be the greatest Black Briton.[45] Seacole was born in Jamaica in 1805 to a white father and black mother.[46] A statue of her is planned for the grounds of St. Thomas' Hospital in London.[45]

More recently, a large number of Black British people have achieved prominence in public life. An example from television is reporter and newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald, born in Trinidad, who was knighted in 1999. McDonald is now seen as a part of the broadcasting establishment. His clear, confident delivery and serious attitude have made him one of British television's most trusted presenters, winning more awards than any other British broadcaster. Other examples from television are entertainer Lenny Henry and chef Ainsley Harriott.

In art and film, Steve McQueen won the Turner prize in 1999, he has since directed his first feature Hunger. The film earned him the Caméra d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Michael Fuller, after a successful career in the Metropolitan Police, has been Chief Constable of Kent since 2004. He is the son of Jamaican immigrants who came to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Fuller was brought up in Sussex, where his interest in the police force was encouraged by an officer attached to his school. He is a graduate in social psychology.[47]

In business, Damon Buffini heads Permira, one of the world's largest private equity firms. Buffini topped the 07 'power list' as the most powerful Black male in the United Kingdom by New Nation magazine and was recently appointed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's business advisory panel.

René Carayol is a successful broadcaster, broadsheet columnist, business & leadership speaker and author, best known for presenting the BBC series Did They Pay Off Their Mortgage in Two Years?. He has also served as an executive main board director for blue-chip companies as well as the public sector.

Wol Kolade is council member and Chairman of the BVCA (British Venture Capital Association) and a Governor and council member of the London School of Economics and Political Science, chairing its Audit Committee.

Adam Afriyie, is a politician, and Conservative Member of Parliament for Windsor. He is also the founding director of Connect Support Services, an IT services company pioneering fixed-price support. He was also Chairman of DeHavilland Information Services plc, a news and information services company, and was a regional finalist in the 2003 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year awards.

Alexander Amosu is an entrepreneur and one of the first people in the UK to create high-end customised mobile phones in gold, white gold and various colours of diamonds, selling to wealthy clients worldwide.

Finally, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is a businessman, farmer and founder of the popular Black Farmer range of food products. In addition, he is also a prospective Conservative Party candidate for the Chippenham constituency for the next general election.

In 2005, soldier Johnson Beharry, born in Grenada of mixed Black African and East Indian roots, became the first man to win the Victoria Cross, the United Kingdom's foremost military award for bravery, since the Falklands War of 1982. He was awarded the medal for service in Iraq in 2004.

In sport, prominent examples of success include boxing champion Frank Bruno, whose career highlight was winning the WBC world heavyweight championship in 1995. Altogether, he has won 40 of his 45 contests. He is also well known for acting in pantomime.

Lennox Lewis, born in East London, is another successful Black British boxer and former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Recently, Lewis Hamilton, who is mixed-race, has created a major impact in the world of Formula One racing, with his most notable achievement being the winner (and first Black person) of the 2008 formula 1 world championship.

Kelly Holmes, who won two gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics, is also mixed-race: her black father was born in Jamaica, while her white mother is English.

People of black ancestry such as Bernie Grant, Baroness Amos and Diane Abbott, as well as Oona King and Paul Boateng who are of mixed race, have made significant contributions to politics and trade unionism.

Paul Boateng became the UK's first black biracial cabinet minister in 2002 when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Bill Morris was elected general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1992. He was knighted in 2003, and in 2006 he took a seat in the House of Lords as a working life peer, Baron Morris of Handsworth.

Diane Abbott became the first black woman Member of Parliament when she was elected to the House of Commons in the 1987 general election.

There have also been several unsuccessful black and mixed race parliamentary candidates in recent elections (particularly those since 1997). Musician and community activist Richard Bilcliffe achieved local fame (which regretably did not lead to many votes) in the Petch-Waters Valley district by-election of 1999; his older sister Melody (of entirely white origin) had stood for the same seat in 1987.

Valerie Amos became the first black woman cabinet minister and the first black woman to become leader of the House of Lords.

Numerous Black British actors have become successful in US television, such as Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Idris Elba, Lennie James, Marsha Thomason and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. Black British actors are also increasingly found starring in major Hollywood movies, notable examples include Adrian Lester, Ashley Walters, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Salmon, David Harewood, Eamonn Walker, Hugh Quarshie, Naomie Harris, Sophie Okonedo and Thandie Newton.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Religion by ethnic groups 2001 census. Retrieved on 2009-10-23.
  6. ^ Glossary of terms relating to ethnicity and race: for reflection and debate R Bhopal. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Accessed 6 October 2006
  7. ^ Southall Black Sisters website
  8. ^ The Guardian "What the migrant saw" by Jatinder Verma, founder in 1977 of Tara Arts, the first Asian theatre company in Britain – "Everywhere my friends and I looked, it seemed black people, as we identified ourselves, were victims of white oppression."
  9. ^ What is meant by Black and Asian? "In the 1970s Black was used as a political term to encompass many groups who shared a common experience of oppression - this could include Asian but also Irish, for example"
  10. ^ The term Black and Asian - a Short History "In the late 1960’s through to the mid 1980’s, we progressives called ourselves Black. This was not only because the word was reclaimed as a positive, but we also knew that we shared a common experience of racism because of our skin colour."
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Black Arts Alliance encourages "a coming together of Black people from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean because our histories have parallels of oppression"
  13. ^ Their website intro states "Black Arts Alliance is 21 years old. Formed in 1985 it is the longest surviving network of Black artists representing the arts and culture drawn from ancestral heritages of South Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean and, in more recent times, due to global conflict, our newly arrived compatriots known collectively as refugees." the Black Arts Alliance
  14. ^ National Black Police Association states that their "emphasis is on the common experience and determination of the people of African, African-Caribbean and Asian origin to oppose the effects of racism."
  15. ^ Census classifications
  16. ^ [1] BBC article on "Multiculturalism the Wembley way"
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ National Archives
  19. ^ Bartels, Emily (22 March 2006). "Too many Blackamoors: deportation, discrimination, and Elizabeth I". Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. Retrieved January 2008. 
  20. ^ Banton, Michael (1955), The Coloured Quarter. Jonathan Cape. London.
  21. ^ Shyllon, Folarin, "The Black Presence and Experience in Britain: An Analytical Overview", in Gundara and Duffield eds. (1992), Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain. Avebury, Aldershot.
  22. ^ Black liverpool: the early history of Britain's Oldest Black Community 1730 - 1918 by Ray Costello, Picton Press, Liverpool 2001
  23. ^ Costello, Ray (2001). Black Liverpool: The Early History of Britain's Oldest Black Community 1730-1918. Liverpool: Picton Press. ISBN 1873245076. 
  24. ^ McIntyre-Brown, Arabella; Woodland, Guy (2001). Liverpool: The First 1,000 Years. Liverpool: Garlic Press. p. 57. ISBN 1904099009. 
  25. ^ Bartels, Emily C. (2006). "Too Many Blackamoors: Deportation, Discrimination, and Elizabeth I". Studies in English Literature. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  26. ^ a b c File, Nigel and Chris Power (1981), Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958. Heinnemann Educational.
  27. ^ The Capital's history uncovered
  28. ^ Geoffrey Bell, The other Eastenders : Kamal Chunchie and West Ham's early black community (Stratford: Eastside Community Heritage, 2002)
  29. ^ Tyne Roots
  30. ^ Tristram Hunt, “Lest we forget”, section entitled “Cardiff race riots, 1919 Scene of the first credible declaration of black British identity”, The Guardian, July 24th, 2006,
  31. ^ Rose, Sonya (May 2001). "Race, empire and British wartime national identity, 1939–45". Historical Research 74 (184): 224. doi:10.1111/1468-2281.00125. 
  32. ^ Writing black Britain 1948-1998. James Procter.(Manchester)
  33. ^ icons: a portrait of England: SS Empire Windrush
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  37. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics Home Page
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  42. ^ Table 3.6 of Home Office publication "Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2004"
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  47. ^ Alumni and friends | Notable Alumni | Michael Fuller

External links

Simple English

Black British are people who have British nationality but are originally from Africa or African-Caribbean people or anyone who sees them self as black.

The 2001 UK census[1] says there are 1.2 million Black British people. They are 2.33% of the population of the United Kingdom.

In the past, Black British used to mean any immigrant who was not English, like British Asians, but people say that it was because of racism in England at that time.


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