• Kaeshelle Rianne

HISTORY: A-Z BLACK BRITONS – PART 2/3

Politics, activism and histories of the struggle for racial justice


Black people have been residing in Britain as early as the 16th century when musician John Blanke played for both King Henry VII and his son King Henry VIII. It was only after Britain's tirades of Imperialism and colonisation that ‘race relations’ became toxic.


The following list is a non-exhaustive A-Z of Black Britons who have played a key role in the struggle for racial justice and have paved the way for political change across multiple fields.


Ordered alphabetically by last name:


H-M: Part 2


H - Stuart Hall, academic, writer and cultural studies pioneer: 'Popular culture is one of the sites where this struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is the stake to be won or lost in that struggle. It is the arena of consent and resistance. It is partly where hegemony arises, and where it is secured. It is not a sphere where socialism, a socialist culture - already fully formed - might be simply 'expressed'. But it is one of the places where socialism might be constituted. That is why 'popular culture' matters. Otherwise, to tell you the truth, I don't give a damn about it.'


Honourable mentions to:

Roy Hackett and Owen Henry who formed the action group that led to the Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963.

Barbara Blake Hannah, the first Black TV journalist

Leila Hassan and Darcus Howe, editors of the radical monthly journal Race Today.

Afua Hirsch, journalist and author of ‘Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging’.


I - Eric Irons, racial justice campaigner who became Britain's first Black magistrate in 1962. His landmark appointment was the source of controversy. Irons faced serious scrutiny from the media and local residents as seen in this interview with local news channel ATV. He even received a number of threatening letters from the Klu Klux Klan. Nonetheless, he served on the bench in Nottingham until 1991.


Honourable mention to:

Anne-Marie Imafidon, mathematician, feminist and podcast host of Women Tech Charge and co-founder of the social enterprise, Stemettes.



J - Linton Kwesi Johnson, poet, writer and activist who writes as a political act: 'I began to write verse, not only because I liked it, but because it was a way of expressing the anger, the passion of the youth of my generation in terms of our struggle against racial oppression. Poetry was a cultural weapon in the black liberation struggle, so that's how it began.'


Honourable mention to:

Claudia Jones, journalist and activist who founded Notting Hill Carnival and British newsletter, the West Indian Gazette.

K - Kuchenga, writer, journalist and activist, is a 'Black transsexual feminist whose work seeks to cleave souls open with truth and sincerity'. From writing to trans girls in prison, to writing for the likes of Vogue, VICE and Autostraddle, Kuchenga is committed to fighting for trans visibility. She has been published in Gal-Dem's ‘I Will Not Be Erased’ and the forthcoming anthology ‘Loud Black Girls’ curated by the authors of ‘Slay In Your Lane’.


L - Doreen Lawrence, activist and the mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. She has campaigned against racial injustice and for police reforms for almost three decades. Lawrence also founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which aims to tackle inequality by working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Honourable mentions to:

John La Rose, activist, writer and founder of New Beacon Books in 1966, the first specialist Caribbean publishing company in Britain.

Althea Jones Lecointe, one of the main leaders of the Black British Panthers and the Mangrove Nine activists.

Gail Lewis, activist and founding member of OWAAD, an important Black feminist organisation in the 1970s.


M - Olive Morris, activist and founding member of OWAAD who was committed to the struggle for liberation, democracy and socialism. She fought for the rights of women and Black people in Brixton and Manchester, dedicating her life anti-racist and anti-imperialist campaigns until her untimely death at the age of 27.


A-G: Part 1 available here


N-Z: Part 3 available here

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