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8 Black British Influential Figures

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

In celebration of Black History Month, we thought we would highlight 8 Black British people who have contributed and influenced the history of Black people as we know. Take a read below and get informed!

Elizabeth Bagaaya

The Batebe (Princess Royal) of the Kingdom of Toro, Uganda, Elizabeth studied Law at Girton College, Cambridge in 1959. In 1965 she became the first East African woman to be admitted to the English bar. As well as being a practising barrister, Elizabeth also modelled and was the first black woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue Magazine in 1968 and Harper’s Bazaar.

Diane Abbott

Abbott is the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons and has been a Labour MP for more than 30 years. Born in London to Jamaican parents, she studied History at Newnham College before entering the civil service. Abbott has an extensive political career, holding shadow ministerial positions and serving on several parliamentary committees including the Treasury Select Committee and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Abbott is founder of the London Schools and the Black Child initiative, which aims to raise educational achievement levels among Black children. In 2017, she was re-elected in her seat of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, receiving 75% of the constituency's votes with an increased majority of over 35,000.

Alexander Crummell

Crummell pictured right was the first black graduate from Cambridge in the late 1840s, studying at Queens' College.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

In 1773, Wheatley was the first African-American woman to have her book published ‘Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral’. The book was published in London with the help of the Countess of Huntingdon.

J.S Celestine Edwards (1858-1894)

Edwards was the first Black man to edit a White-owned newspaper called Lux, the weekly Christian Evidence Newspaper.

Una Marson (1905-1965)

Marson was the first Black female broadcaster at the BBC from 1939 to 1946. Una Marson, born in Jamaica in 1905, was a poet, publisher and activist for racial and sexual equality. She was a secretary to the League of Coloured Peoples as well as many other organisations including the Women’s International League for Peace.

John Richard Archer (1863-1932)

Richard became London’s first Black Mayor on 10th November 1913 aged fifty years old when he was elected mayor of Battersea.

Elisabeth Welch (1904-2003)

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.

Listen To Podcast Ep 2: Black History

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