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Black Loyalists in 18th Century London


Image: Courtesy of Kurt Miller – KMI Studio Website:

It was during the War of Independence in the colony of America that Britain gained herself these unlikely allies. Black loyalists fought for Britain against the American colonists. Free blacks were joined by thousands of slaves who had been promised freedom and land by Britain if they joined in this battle. The idea of British freedom, i.e. complete freedom in the shortest possible time, was appealing to the escaped Africans who in the 1770s made their way to the British army position to fight for Britain and for freedom.

In September 1783, the independence of the United States and the formation of its boundaries were formally recognised. The new country was founded by an egalitarian movement and based on the philosophy of ‘equal rights’ for all.  After this treaty had been signed, the whole British faction had to leave the United States. In the eight months between April and November 1783, over 3,000 black people leaving the country on British ships for destinations as varied as Nova Scotia, the West Indies, England, Germany, Quebec or Belgium, were recorded in the Book of Negroes .

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London

London had a severe poverty problem in the 18th century. This became more pronounced as growing numbers of African-American loyalists arriving from America ended up living on the streets. The black and white loyalists had all been promised compensation for their losses in the War of Independence, however, the majority of claims from the black loyalists were denied or they were given derisory amounts condemning them to lives of destitution. The Parliamentary Commission Compensation Board reviewing the claims stated, on several occasions, that they believed the black claimants were being deceptive in claiming they were free men with property and should adopt a state of gratitude that they were now at liberty rather than pursue applications for financial assistance. In 1786 there were over 1,000 black loyalists living in London. As the negative sentiment regarding the presence of Africans in England increased there were suggestions of where to relocate these black people; the main areas proposed where the Bahamas, where other loyalists had moved to or Sierra Leone, on the West African coast.

The following year around 200 of this impoverished group migrated to Sierra Leone with government assistance; the government wanted to remove the problem of black poverty and the presence of large groups of free black people from the streets of England. There were 344 poor black people on the ship Myro that sailed from London in 1787.  The plan was to move the burden of the ‘troublesome’ black person from the attention of the public, forever . This was an indication of the racially nationalist philosophy that was to perpetuate the abolitionist movement.


Further reading and research

The Book of Negroes – that listed all the Black Loyalists evacuated from America – can be found in the archives at Kew (Public Records Office).

There is also a copy available online here

The National Archives contain records, that can only be viewed in the reading room, about the Committee for the Relief of Poor Blacks and their emigration to Sierra Leone; this covers the details of events between May 1786 to April 1787.

This article was contributed by Marjorie Morgan.Writer, Researcher. © 2013 | Blackpresence has special permission to publish this article.

Related Link: Black Loyalists

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Soldiers, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (5)

Jeff Green Seeks info on African American Fugitive 1850s

Contributed Email from Historian Jeffrey Green

African American Fugitive

My latest entry on my website (put  Jeffrey Green Historian  into your search engine) is page 107 and concerns fugitive slave John Anderson who killed a man in Missouri in 1853 en route to freedom in Canada. In 1860-1861 the legal arguments over extradition attracted a lot of attention and in mid-1861 Anderson came to England. He stayed until late 1862, moving on to Liberia. A small biography was published in London in 1863.

He went to the nonconformist village school in the then-village of Corby, Northamptonshire (it has under 200 houses in the 1860s) for a year, taught by John Pool and his wife Ann or Anna. John Pool accompanied Anderson on the train from London to catch his steamship in Liverpool in late 1862.

Does anyone know anything about the Hampshire-born Pools? The census of 1861 shows they had an 8 year old daughter (Alice Olivia) and a 7 year old son (William Henry). These two teachers, their children, the village children, or local adults may have commented years later that a 30 year old black American, accused of murder, studied in Corby in 1861-1862.

Assistance would be appreciated as I am contacted to wrote Anderson’s entry for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Jeff Green

Posted in African American History, Black BritainComments (3)

An African American Soldier: A Family Legacy

Four Generations of Military all Firstborns:

We all just fell into rank when it was our time.
What it all has meant, I don’t know?
Only future generations can judge us.

We Lewis Soldiers are just regular blue collared folks, African American Soldiers, yet, the descendent’s of Slaves. The main lesson I have learned, was we just did “Our Part”. We served our country.

African American Soldiers

African American soldier WW2

African American soldier WW2

My Grandfather, James E. Lewis Sr., was born in 1918, he didn’t have many examples of being a father or husband. He was a man’s man and he was etched into our hearts like the fable John Henry.  He walked the walk, was a man of few words, he was the finest example of how life should be lived, including being a Soldier.

For all his life his priority was for his children not to be without love and opportunity.

In his heart, there was a better life than staying in Midway, Alabama. In 1942 James E. Sr, got drafted. His own father ran off when he was a little boy and his two older brothers were gone making a life for themselves.  Having a only a few influences on his life, he had a to make a lot of decisions. J.E,Sr  had to navigate very early, how to take care of his mother and his sisters and make decisions as the man of the house.  That was life in a close nit, rural community in the 30’s.  That is where his faith in the lord came in, that faith would sustain him throughout life till 2009 when he was called home to be with Jesus.

Segregated Army

Granddaddy was in the segregated U.S. Army, Colored Troop.

He was with the 470th Amphibious Truck Company. Arriving in Normandy the day after the Great Invasion. He could still see the blood stained beach years later. He used to tell me of his travels on The Great English Channel. There were times after the War he spent in France before and after, where a few of his pictures were taken. He brought coins back from each country he visited along the way to get back home like, Belgium. I can hear his southern laugh as he would tell stories about the English girls. Him lying on the beach, his first time being able to sit and relax on the shores, watching “them pretty English girls” swim. The English, French and Belgiums loved the Colored Troops, he remembered how well they looked after the black soldiers who were so far away from home, equally and with respect. He got a taste of what freedom for a Colored man in Europe was like. After the War, he wanted that freedom at home.

I think they all had hoped there would be some change when they got back to the States.  Being told by the white command officers, they made sure black soldiers got reminded they were “just Negroes”. Granddaddy knew that after the war, he would be faced with the same old rigors of life in the South, being part of Jim Crow with the ‘Colored Only’ signs, and the  prospect of just being a lolly sharecropper.  When he  looked at the World through War, he imagined all the possibilities life had to offer.  As a newlywed him and his War Bride from down Home, made their lives a part of ‘The Great Migration’, moving where the jobs were, up North.

Going to War opened up a lot of opportunities for him, he took every known advantage of them as they came. Oh, how they tried to grind him down, but he stood and he rose above it all. Uncle Sam told him he had to go fight! In return for J.E, fighting for this country like so many before him, its was his chance to prove to his country why he should be free in ALL ways. The Army meant a lot to Granddaddy, our lives were always to be of service in all capacities. Back then, your name and word meant something, and with his discharge papers in hand, it took him wherever he wanted to go, he made sure his living through that War was not in vain.

Two Tours in Vietnam

My Dad in Vietnam

My Dad in VietnamMy Dad in Vietnam

In 1947 James Sr.’s Firstborn and namesake, James E. Lewis, Jr. was born. James E. Lewis completed two tours in Vietnam. 28 years of service in the Marine Corps as CSGM.

My Dad says when he arrived in DaNang, Vietnam at age 22, that’s when he got his wake up call. It was Life or Death. They sent him to the front with the Grunts and Infantry, he was a cook. Commander asked him what his MOS was?(military occupational service, Job!) He said “Cook Sir”!, Well, your a Marine first! When we get shot at, you get shot at, when we need to eat, you’ll cook. Eventually he was sent to the rear and worked in the largest Bakery in Vietnam at that time. His Proudest moment is when he made Drill Segeant at Parris Island. He put 7 Platoons in 11 weeks through the Marine Corps, that was in 1975-1977. He was just 29 then.

How proud I felt as the daughter of this man. I remember the look on J.E.Sr’s face also when we came to visit one of his graduating classes. It was of Proud. Having all girls, Did he think about one of us going in the military? At one point in my career he questioned if I was up to task? I think it’s clear now that I could “Carry on” like the rest of the men in this family.

Just like a generation before him, he kept his story to himself. Not acknowledging the importance of the work he’d done, soldiers like him saw it as an honor to do their Job. There’s three groups of people in the military you don’t mess with. That’s the Cooks, Supply, and Finance! You need those folks to survive. They are friends you make, because you want to eat, you need stuff and you want your money. All four of us were cooks or supply.

CSGM Lewis like the rest of his generation are by and large, still quiet about their tours, and service but slowly now they begin to talk about their experiences.

My Time in the Army

My Army Days

My Army Days

In 1968 his firstborn arrived. Me, True , the writer. I was called a “Clinton baby”, meaning: Serving the during the Clinton years. President Clinton had kept us out of war.  Being a girl,  the resistance would come strong from family and colleagues. My parents made me strong, but the Army built me into ‘Army strong’. My mind was made up, I could do anything the guy next to me  was doing and I proved it, time and time again. When I signed my name on the dotted line, I knew what it all entailed. It took a lot of preparation.

I’ve been all over the World in a span of 7 years. Most memorable was my intense tour in Korea. That was my Proudest Time. That’s why it’s called a short tour in the Army. You can only take the rigors of the job for a year. Everyday, no matter if it was 2:00am on a saturday night in the NCO club, or a Tuesday at 0 Dark Thirty. Your life was on call for the rest of the World, your body was being used as a first line of defense. With the DMZ and North Korea always unstable that was your goal. Your priority was to be ready to defend at all costs. Just imagine your Life being the first line of defense until the rest of the World can get there to do something about it. So thru all the working, laughing and such, that was your job for one year. All my mind had to do, 24hours a day, without thinking, was to be ready to defend.

My Son the Soldier

My son the soldier

My son the soldier

In 1985 my Firstborn child, a Son, Edward J. L. Kunkel was born. He has that torch now, carrying it ever so brightly with 3 tours of Duty. He is now one of 66,000 serving in the mountainous, cold hills of Afghanistan. I’m waiting to  interview him about his career. What has it meant to him these past few years with all his experiences? How does he feel carrying on the torch in this family? What burden if any,has that meant to him? I’ll be waiting on him to have a child one day. I wonder if I’ll be able to see his first child carrying on the tradition whether girl or boy to keep the Lewis Tradition going?

Father’s Day in 2007 was one of the Proudest moments collectively when we all realized with Eddie with us, all grown up and serving,that we had made up 4 Generations of Lewis’s all Firstborns and we all took that now “famous” photo by all our family members. I think as the digital cameras were flashing we realized what we were standing for? What our place in this family was and what meaning it had for us all.


Four Generations of Military

Four Generations of Military

Eddie’s firstborn, whether they join the Military or not, they will be able to look back at a Full Military Legacy with much Pride. This is our contribution we want to leave behind for our future generations.

I’m True Lewis
Full-Time Wife, Army Mom and Grandma, I have the pleasure of researching my Family History as our Family Historian. I have a blog where I tell short stories about my family and the work I’ve done as Notes To Myself that I share with you. I can be found at


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African Americans in Britain – Pt1

This article about African Americans in Britain originally appeared at

A letter from the Daily Herald 1942.
Coloured American soldiers stationed in the district were refused admission to an Army dance at Eye, Suffolk, on Saturday.

A coloured military policeman was posted at the door to turn his comrades away. Now they are under orders not to attend any dances there in future.[1.1] Coloured American soldiers stationed in the district were refused admission to an Army dance at Eye, Suffolk, on Saturday. A coloured military policeman was posted at the door to turn his comrades away. Now they are under orders not to attend any dances there in future.

Military Order
[1.2] It is understood that the action was taken at the instigation of the American military authorities. Our own Army Command, the Daily Herald was told, had offered no objection to the entry of coloured soldiers to functions attended by our own troops.

These coloured American soldiers have also been refused admittance to the town’s reading room, which has billiards, ping-pong tables and a dart board, as well as facilities for reading and writing. At the moment they have nowhere to go when off duty.

Related Links

Smith, Graham. When Jim Crow Met John Bull: Black American Soldiers
in World War II Britain. NY: St Martin’s, 1987. 265 p.

Vicar’s Wife Insults Our Allies

The women of Worle, Weston-super-Mare, are amazed by Mrs. May, wife of their vicar.  She called them together and attempted to lay down a six-point code which would result in the ostracism of American coloured troops if they ever go to the village.

The women of the village have come to the angry conclusion that this code amounts to an insult to the troops of our Ally.

These (in her own words) were the rules Mrs. May laid down:

1. If a local woman keeps a shop and a coloured soldier enters, she must serve him, but she must do it as quickly as possible and indicate as quickly as possible and indicate that she does not desire him to come there again.
2. If she is in a cinema and notices a coloured soldier next to her, she moves to another seat immediately.
3. If she is walking on the pavement and a coloured soldier is coming towards her, she crosses to the other pavement.
4. If she is in a shop and a coloured soldier enters, she leaves as soon as she has made her purchase or before that if she is in a queue.
5. White women, of course, must have no social relationship with coloured troops.
6. On no account must coloured troops be invited to the homes of white women.

Mrs. May forbade her hearers to mention her ‘talk’ to the newspapers.

But they were so astonished that they told their husbands.

[2.3] One of the husbands, a local councillor, is preparing a full statement to be sent to the Ministry of Information.

He said: ‘If the woman is talking like this in the name of the Church, I should be interested to know what her husband’s bishop thinks of it.’

Mrs. May’s reason for not making her code public, she said, was that ‘it might hurt the coloured troops if they heard of it.

Feeling is so high in the district that it is more likely to hurt Mrs. May.

A local woman who attended the meeting told the Sunday Pictorial last night: ‘

I was disgusted, and so were most of the women there. We have no intention of agreeing to her decree.

Any coloured soldier who reads this may rest assured that there is no colour bar in this country and that he is as welcome as any other Allied soldier.

He will find that the vast majority of people have nothing but repugnance for the narrow-minded uninformed prejudices expressed by the vicar’s wife.

There is – and will be – no persecution of coloured people in Britain.

Sunday Pictorial 6 September 1942


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Five of The Most Inspirational Black Entrepreneurs of All Time

This guest post is by Tapha Ngum of

Five of The Most Inspirational Black Entrepreneurs of All Time

If all you did was watch the news and sports channels, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only way to become successful as a young black individual was to get involved in sports or become an entertainer. Even in this modern day, it is very rare that we see images of black people who have been successful in creating businesses. That’s why I have compiled a short list of some of the most inspirational entrepreneurs in the black community of past and present. To help inspire some of the more entrepreneurial readers of black presence and help to illustrate what is possible with a little belief and lof of hard work.


Madame C.J. Walker

C J Walker

C J walker

Born: Dec. 23, 1867, Delta Louisiana

Died: May 25, 1919 (Aged 51)

Industry: Cosmetics

There is probably no one else that i could have started this list with. Madame C.J. Walker was not only the first black woman in the US to become a millionaire, she was also the first female of any race to become a millionaire, period. I think that it is important for people to realise just how significant what this woman did was.

This is a woman who, born to recently freed slaves – transcended illiteracy, racism and poverty to become one of the richest women of her time. Remember also, that women’s rights at this time were also not that great. So, she had to contend with that, on top of everything else. The odds were truly stacked against her. Right from the beginning.

She started out by inventing a process that made it easier for black women to straighten their hair. Once she had perfected her invention, she then proceeded to go an exhausting trip all over the US and caribbean, selling her invention door to door. The business got so big, that at one point she employed more than 3,000 people.

Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy

Born: November 28, 1929, Detroit, Michigan

Industry: Music

This guy is responsible for most of the greatest black musicians of all time. Through Motown Records, he financed and nurtured the careers of Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, among many others.

He started out with just an $800 loan from his father, which he used to form the record company that would become Motown.  He slept on the ground floor of the building he worked in, in the early days, and focused his energies on making records.

He changed black music forever with his insights into how artists should present themselves to their audiences. Through his artist development program, he showed his proteges how to act, dress and speak professionally in manner that was the most appealing to audiences.

In 1988 he sold his interests in Motown for $61 million to MCA and Boston Ventures.

 Sean Combs

Sean Combs

Sean Combs

Born: November 6, 1969, Mount Vernon, New York

Industry: Music

What makes Sean Combs inspiring, is not just that he has amassed a fortune of well over $500m. But that he has done it while having what seems to be, a hell of a lot of fun. He has parlayed his own individual passions, such as design, food and marketing into several incredibly successful businesses, namely his branded clothing line – Sean John, his restaurants ‘Justin’s’ and his legendary record label Bad Boy Records.

He recently announced to Wolf Blitzer, that he would like to open his own business school, to help others achieve the same successes that he has.

Christopher Gardner

Christopher Gardner

Christopher Gardner

Born: February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Industry: Finance

Chris Gardner, who became a household name after the movie ‘The Pursuit Of Happyness’ (which was based on his life) was released, is one of the few entrepreneurs that i know of who are black and have succeeded wildly within the financial industry. His story is one of extreme struggle, pain and ultimately triumph. He was homeless for a long time, having to support his son by selling medical printers that nobody wanted, door to door.

What makes his success so inspirational is that despite the struggles he was going through at this time, he managed to land an apprenticeship at a firm and literally outperformed almost everyone else there. He was then hired full time, and his life from then on, was never the same.

He now runs the multi million dollar ‘Gardner Rich and Co’ firm out of Chicago illinois, with plans to expand his business interests to South Africa.

This guy is truly an inspiration for young black men everywhere. As he has succeeded in an industry where we are few and far between.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Born: January 29, 1954, Kociusko, Mississipi

Industry: TV, Broadcasting, Movies

As of 2012, according to Wikipedia, Oprah Winfrey has a networth upwards of $2.7 billion.

When you read through her story on the same wiki page, you begin to understand just how amazing that achievement is.

Not only did she grow up and succeed at a time where women were not seen as equal to men. But she also did it, despite that fact that she was born when racism in the United States was just reaching its peak.

This is a woman who has overcome staggering odds to not only become one of the most succcessful black women of all time, but to also become one of the most successful people. Period.

She is an inspiration to women and men alike.

Share some more success stories that you may know

These are just scratching the surface, almost every day now there are young black people who are doing extraordirily well in their chosen fields. I’d be here all day if I had to list them all. :)

But I’d love to hear of some more. So, if you know of any Black entrepreneurial success stories that you’d love to share, then please let us know in the comments!

This is a guest post from Tapha. Founder of, a site that provides custom iphone app design templates to people who cannot afford to spend $1,000′s on their iphone app design.

Posted in African American History, Black History, Guest Blog PostsComments (2)

Somali Seafarers in Wales

bute town

Recent Somali migration to the UK has been widely documented but much less is known about the ‘first wave’ of migrants in Britain. Due to the historical importance of Britain’s maritime trade, Somali seafarers have been have been living and working in the country since the mid 1800s. Young Somali men – as well as large numbers of Arabs (from the Yemen in particular) – worked from ports such as Cardiff, South Shields and Liverpool and many eventually settled down and raised families locally.

Aiming to document some of this history, I recently completed a project based at the Islam-UK Centre at Cardiff University, researching the history of Muslims in South Wales. Focussing on Yemeni and Somali seafarers, Dr Gilliat-Ray and I examined the photographic and documentary evidence from the Butetown History and Arts Centre.

We collaborated with the Somali Integration Society, based in Cardiff, working on the “Four Generations Project” (2009–2010), which added to the research base. Most significantly, we conducted indepth interviews with elders who have been living and working in the city for at least two generations. We chatted to the men about their experiences of living in South Wales, their work on the ships and their experiences of practicing Islam. We were lucky enough to interview Sheikh Said, one of the longest-serving Imams in the UK. Over the course of a year I spoke to Sheikh Saeed Ismail – a British Yemeni – several times about his important religious work in Cardiff and about the strong relationships within the Yemeni community in South Wales. Sadly Sheikh Saeed passed away in 2011, after five decades of serving his community.

Throughout the course of the research it became apparent that Somali and Yemeni communities enjoyed particularly close-knit bonds, a relationship that was based upon a shared religious and minority ethnic position. Another significant finding was the establishment of Islam within the communities, particularly in relation to the mosques and Maktabs (Islamic schools for children). There was a number of conversions among the local Welsh community, notably the women who became romantically attached to the seafarers.

Further information on the history of Somalis and Yemenis in Cardiff is documented by the Butetown History and Arts Centre

and at the National History Museum of Wales

The publications from our research project are listed below:

Gilliat-Ray, S. and Mellor, J. (2010) ‘Bilad al-Welsh (Land of the Welsh): Muslims in Cardiff, South Wales – past, present, and future’, The Muslim World, 100 (4): 452-475

Gilliat-Ray, S (2010) ‘The First Registered Mosque in the UK, Cardiff, 1860’: the evolution of a myth. Contemporary Islam, 4 (2): 179-193

Mellor, J. and Gilliat-Ray, S. (forthcoming) ‘The early history of migration and settlement of Yemenis in Cardiff, 1939 to 1970: Religion and ethnicity as social capital’, Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Piece by Jody Mellor

I’m a research assistant working on the Paired Peers Project at the University of Bristol and am mummy of two children under two years old.

Jody Mellor’s Blog

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Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847

“Let the Press of England Blaze with Antislavery Indignation!” Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847

Rising to the podium with applause ringing in his ears, Frederick Douglass addressed a large crowd of over three thousand in Paisley, 1846. He urged the people of Scotland to denounce American slavery and to reject all contact with slaveholders. Britain had a duty to destroy the evil sin of slavery, since she played a part in introducing it to the colonies in the first place. Frederick Douglass was not the first or the last fugitive slave to visit Britain during the nineteenth century, but his travels here electrified the nation. He wanted to “concentrate the moral and religious sentiment of the world against [slavery], until by the weight of its overwhelming influence, [it] be swept off the face of the earth.”

Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland, in 1818 and escaped to Massachusetts in the late 1830’s. He was soon employed by the fiery William Lloyd Garrison (leader of the American Antislavery Society), who recognised Douglass’s supreme talent of oratory. But why at the start of a promising career, did Frederick choose to travel to Britain?

There were several reasons for this. Primarily, he wanted to escape any unwanted attention from the publication of his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an autobiography chronicling his experiences as a slave. He was afraid this would jeopardise the safety of himself and his family – as a fugitive slave, his former master could kidnap him and drag him “back to the jaws of slavery”, so a trip abroad seemed logical. The Society also wanted Douglass to educate Britain on the nature of American slavery, and since he was a former slave, he could lecture on the brutality of it in great detail, unlike his white abolitionist friends.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

He began his journey in Ireland in 1845, where his narrative was already selling hundreds of copies. He lectured in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, (among others), drawing crowds of support. He even shared a platform with the famous reformer Daniel O’Connell, who argued for the eradication of American slavery and oppression throughout the world.

It was here that Frederick began his campaign against a religious group called the Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church had split from the established church in Scotland in 1843, and some of its missionaries were sent to America to raise money for their new organisation. They collected thousands of pounds from Southern slaveholders, which outraged abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic. Building on work by other abolitionists, Douglass lambasted the group for supporting American slavery and created a furore in Scotland by promoting a campaign to “Send back the Money!” Thousands attended his speeches, songs were composed and a new (albeit short-lived) Free Church Antislavery Society was created. Although the money was not returned, the commotion of the campaign proved too hot to handle for some international organisations.

In 1846, a group of evangelicals from across the world attempted to form an Evangelical Alliance, dedicated to spreading the gospel. However, Douglass’s relentless attack on the Free Church put slavery on the agenda, a discussion that American delegates wanted to avoid. In line with Douglass and his supporters, some members of the alliance wanted to exclude slaveholders from their organisation, while others deplored this action as “unchristian like”. Consequently, the Evangelical Alliance shattered.

Clearly, Frederick Douglass had a strong influence on British society, but this did not mean he was universally admired. His exposure of the Free Church and the Evangelical Alliance was criticised in numerous quarters, and several newspapers objected to his conduct, claiming he was “anti-religious” for attacking the Free Church. Furthermore, Douglass was not popular with all British abolitionists. Richard D. Webb, a supporter of the American Antislavery Society praised Douglass’s oratory skills but attacked his character repeatedly during his stay in Britain. And several abolitionists in the Society vilified Douglass’s decision to accept the purchase of his freedom, which was arranged by a family in Newcastle. This was seen as recognition that man could be bought and sold as property. But this purchase ensured the safety of Douglass and his family, and surely, argued Douglass, this ‘transaction’ proved to the world the hypocrisy of the United States – how could a country declare its foundations in liberty when the government legally supported the purchase of men and women?

By studying Frederick Douglass’s experiences here, we can understand not only the nature of British society in the 1840s, but we can shatter the myth that popular antislavery ended in the 1830s after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Antislavery groups from Taunton to Glasgow campaigned for abolition within a transatlantic network, and raised money to aid fugitive slaves. Douglass gained not only his freedom in Britain but also his independence. He returned to the United States a free man, one who would work tirelessly for antislavery, temperance, women’s rights and social equality. Douglass deserves to be remembered for many reasons, but primarily, he is one of the greatest civil rights activists and his presence here merits more respect and recognition. Britain helped to make this man, and the sensation he created should earn a place in the history of British abolitionism.


Blassingame, John, (eds)., The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One – Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1979. Vol.1.
Foner, Philip, (eds), Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, New York, 1950, Vol.1.
Blackett, R.J.M, Building an Antislavery Wall, (Louisiana, 1983.)


Author: Hannah Rose Murray

After completing my BA History degree at University College London, I studied for a Masters programme in Public History at Royal Holloway University. I work part-time in Southampton teaching and leading tour groups around an exhibition on the Titanic, whilst furthering my research on Frederick Douglass in Britain!

More about Frederick Douglass in Britain

If you are interested in Frederick Douglass. My lecture,  “A Wall of AntiSlavery Fire: Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847″. It’s on the 15 January, at 6pm, in Room G26 at Senate House, London. And it’s free!

Posted in African American History, Black History, Black History Month UK, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (5)

Job Vacancy: Assistant Professor, Comparative African Diaspora Studies

Ohio State University, The Department of African American and African Studies
Assistant Professor, Comparative African Diaspora Studies

Institution Type: College / University
Location: Ohio, United States
Position: Tenure Track Faculty
The Department of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University invites
applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Comparative African Diaspora Studies.
The discipline and sub-specialty are open.

We are particularly interested in applicants whose research addresses broad questions of
diasporic ontologies and epistemologies; i.e. What is “diaspora?” How is diaspora experienced
and lived? The successful candidate’s work should employ comparative methodologies, such as
multi-sited ethnography, transnational sociology, comparative literary study, and/or global
histories during and after empire, with a critical focus on gender and sexuality, race and
ethnicity, feminist criticism, trans- and post-nationalism, and/or postcolonial migrations and
exile. The candidate will be expected to teach across the curriculum. Ph.D. is required by the
time of employment.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, writing sample of no more than 40 pages,
teaching portfolio and 3 letters of recommendation to:

Professor Ken Goings, Chairperson
Comparative African Diaspora Studies Search Committee
The Department of African American and African Studies
The Ohio State University
486 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210.

Applications will be reviewed beginning November 1, 2012.To build a diverse workforce
Ohio State strongly encourages applications from individuals with disabilities, minorities,
veterans, and women. EEO/AA employer.

Professor Ken Goings, Chairperson
Comparative African Diaspora Studies Search Committee
The Department of African American and African Studies
The Ohio State University
486 University Hall
230 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Posted in African American History, African History, Black HistoryComments (0)

Black History Month 2012 – Africa Channel


To mark Black History Month, The Africa Channel will be broadcasting some specially selected documentaries to inform, commemorate, inspire and raise debate. The UK Premiere of the intriguing five part series follows the life of Nelson Mandela, and uses his biography to tell a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation in South Africa.

Cuba, An African Odyssey is a second addition to the new Africa Channel’s programming this month and brings a transatlantic perspective to the history of Africa’s liberation. This intriguing documentary contains unique interviews alongside rare archival footage.  In addition, a host of inspirational African figures feature in our ‘Great Africans’ series, including Kofi Annan and Wole Soyinka.


A stunning five-part series that casts new light on the life of one of the most revered people of our time. This biographical series charts the life of Nelson Mandela, and begins with his early years in the rural Eastern Cape, and the irresistible lure of the city that increased as he grew older.

Episode two documents the systems of racial oppression so ingrained in city life, and tells the story of Mandela’s rapid politicisation and fervent campaigning against apartheid. Following this, narrator Chris Nicklin takes us through the infamous Rivonia treason trial and the subsequent dark days of political imprisonment.

Finally, the unprecedented series of negotiations that led to Mandela’s release take us on to the story of South Africa’s liberation and first democratic elections.

The strength of this series lies in its ability to bring original and surprising content to this well-known narrative. Through meticulous research and appealing cinematography, Mandela brings a refreshing angle to this iconic period in history, telling a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation.

> UK Premiere
> Thursdays at 8pm from 4th October.

DOCUMENTARY: Cuba, An African Odyssey

This film unravels the little-known story of Cuba’s involvement in Africa during the independence and post-independence periods, when countries like the Congo, Angola and Mozambique were used as battlegrounds on which the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were played out.

Beginning with Nelson Mandela’s first foreign visit (to Cuba) after his release from prison, the film asks: why did an international icon of freedom make this visit to see Fidel Castroand pay homage to a country that many feel limits the freedom of its own citizens? The viewer is then taken back to the start of Cuba’s long engagement with Africa from 1960 onwards, beginning with independence in the Congo, and the subsequent assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Intriguing interviews with some of the key figures of this period illuminate the narrative, including Fidel Castro, Larry Devlin (the CIA officer in the Congo during the 1960s) and Pik Botha (the former South African Foreign Minister).

> Part one: Tuesday 25th September at 9pm

> Part two: Tuesday 2nd October at 9pm


Wole Soyinka: Child of The Forest
The career of a Nobel Peace Prize winning author and intellectual

>Thursday 4th Oct at 9pm

RFK In The Land of Apartheid
Robert Kennedy’s visit to South Africa in 1966

>Saturday 13th Oct at 5pm

Kofi Annan’s Suspended Dream
An intimate interview with the former Secretary General of the UN

> Thursday 18th Oct at 9pm

Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa
A historical re-enactment of the Berlin Conference

>Tuesday 16th Oct at 9pm

Mwalimu: the Legacy of Nyerere
The architect of Tanzania’s independence

>Saturday 6th Oct at 9pm

Bhambatha: War of the Heads
A remarkable story of resistance in 1905

>Thursday 11th Oct at 9pm

CONTINUING: New Dramas and Wildlife

Jacob’s Cross
Season 7

One man’s quest to build an African empire

> Mondays at 9pm

4Play: Sex Tips for Girls Season 3
Love lives of ladies in Johannesburg

> Mondays at 10pm

Planet Africa
Features dynamic, positive environmental projects.
> Tuesdays at 8pm


For further information please contact Aurelie Brault  T: 0207 148 6919

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Sports Stars, Black Women, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (0)

From a London Diary -1942


Examples are beginning to reach me of the complications that are almost certain to arise if considerable numbers of “coloured troops” arrived with the American army.

For instance, a British soldier writes to complain that in an English port part of a well-known restaurant is barred to “coloured troops”. He says that the employees of the restaurant disliked discriminating against “coloured soldiers”, and that a group of British soldiers near said what they thought about colour prejudice.

Examples are beginning to reach me of the complications that are almost certain to arise if considerable numbers of “coloured troops” arrived with the American army.

For instance, a British soldier writes to complain that in an English port part of a well-known restaurant is barred to “coloured troops”. He says that the employees of the restaurant disliked discriminating against coloured soldiers, and that a group of British soldiers near said what they thought about colour prejudice.

He adds that his unit was called together and instructed to be ‘polite to “coloured troops”, answer their queries, and drift away.’

They were not to eat or drink with coloured soldiers. Before going off the deep end about this we must try to understand the nature of the problem that confronts the authorities, British and American.

English people will find that “coloured troops” are particularly easy and pleasant to get on with, and I should think they should be extremely popular in most villages. American troops from a large part of the U.S.A. would agree with this, and be prepared to rub shoulders with the negro soldiers. But the feeling of white troops from the ‘deep South’, where the position of slavery has never left the land, is something far too deep to brush aside.

I have met Southerners who seemed rational enough until the “negro problem” was mentioned, and who would then suddenly show a terrified lynching spirit which was about the ugliest thing imaginable.

The colour problem in the South is economic, political, and sexual. The political side has been increased lately because the parties have begun to canvass for the negro vote.

The economic aspect has increased with the increased opportunities of wartime employment. The social and sexual prejudice is so deep that there will be many Southern whites in this country who will take it for granted that it is their duty to interfere if they see black troops with white girls.

What is to be done? The American Government must itself face the problem. It must use every device of persuasion and authority to let white Southern troops know that it is against discipline to treat negro soldiers in the way to which their training and education has accustomed them.

I am aware that with a prejudice as deep as that of the South, discipline and re-education will not work nearly quickly enough I feel it is a mistake to send large numbers of coloured troops.

If things are left to drift an impossible problem will be set to the British authorities, and very unhappy incidents will occur between black and Southern troops, and, only too naturally, between Southern troops and the British, who will instinctively take the side of the blacks against their white assailants.
New Statesman and Nation 22 August 1942,


Posted in African American History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black SoldiersComments (2)