Tag Archive | "London"

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London


Image: Courtesy of Kurt Miller – KMI Studio Website: www.kmistudio.com

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)

Valda James

Valda James

Valda James

Valda Loiuse James Became the Mayor Of Islington in 1988. She became the first black woman to be elected to Islington Council.Born in 1928, Valda came to Britain in 1961 and raised her children alone in some condition of poverty. to support her family she was working in the Catering Industry, Nursing and Dressmaking.

Valda James former Mayor of Islington

Valda James former Mayor of Islington

In 1986 she became the first black woman to be elected to Islington Council, where she applied her knowledge and experience of being a single parent to her work on the Social Services committee.

Just two years later she rose to position of Mayor and her daughter took the post of Deputy Mayor.

Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black Women, Caribbean HistoryComments (1)

Mangrove 9 – Event

Mangrove Nine

Mangrove Nine

The George Padmore Institute in association with the Black Cultural Archives Invite you to a screening of

Mangrove 9

Directed by Franco Rosso Produced by Franco Rosso & John La Rose (1973)

On Tuesday 8th November at 7.00pm
At the Karibu Education Centre
7 Gresham Road, Brixton SW9 7PH [Nearest under or overground – Brixton]

The screening presents the original full version of this historic documentary.
The film will be introduced by Linton Kwesi Johnson of the GPI and Paul Reid of the BCA, and the film will be followed by a discussion led by Ian Macdonald QC,
leading immigration lawyer and one of the barristers at the trial.

Mangrove Nine tells the story of conflict between the police and the black community in Notting Hill at the start of the 1970s. The central incident of the Mangrove affair took place when a deputation of 150 black people protested against long-term police harassment of the popular Mangrove Restaurant in Ladbroke Grove.The protest – policed by 500 police and a plain clothes police photographer – later led to nine arrests and 29 charges. The nine were Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Frank Critchlow, Rhodan Gordon, Darcus Howe, Anthony Innis, Althea Lecointe Jones, Rothwell Kentish, and Godfrey Millett. The charges ranged from making an affray, incitement to riot, assaulting a policeman, to having an offensive weapon. 22 of the charges against the nine were dismissed including all the serious ones. Only seven minor counts were found proven. The high profile trial at the Old Bailey lasted for two months finishing in December 1971 with five of the defendants being completely acquitted. Most strikingly, the case made legal history when it delivered the first judicial acknowledgement of ‘evidence of racial hatred’ in the Metropolitan police force. The Mangrove Nine film portrays interviews with the defendants recorded before the final verdicts were delivered at the trial, as well as contemporary comments from Ian Macdonald and others.

This event is part of the Dream To Change The World Project, a five year
HLF funded project which began at the George Padmore Institute in June 2010. Its purpose is to make available to the public the personal archives of John La Rose, the GPI’s foundng chairman.

The dvd of Mangrove Nine is available from New Beacon Books price £6.00 (incl p&p)

For more information contact
George Padmore Institute and New Beacon Books, 76 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EN; 020 7272 8915/4889

http://www: georgepadmoreinstitute.org


email: info @ georgepadmoreinstitute.org; newbeaconbooks @ btconnect.com

Black Cultural Archives, 1 Othello Close, London SE11 4RE; 020 7582 8516 www. bcaheritage.org.uk; email: info @ bcaheritage.org.uk


Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Caribbean HistoryComments (6)

South London Apprenticeship Fair

 South London Apprenticeship Fair
SLAF1Inner City youth organisation OFFBEAT is inviting businesses, communities and young people from across South London to attend the ‘South London Apprenticeship Fair’ (SLAF) on the 25th October 2011.


SLAF is being designed in partnership with Southwark and Lambeth councils, a network of youth delivery services, Versa and Southwark News as part of their 100 Apprenticeships in 100 days campaign to attract SME businesses from across London.


This is a unique opportunity for local employers to help young people into apprenticeships, work experience and internships across the region. Features on the day will include business seminars with speakers from National Apprenticeship Service, local governments youth departments, Job Centre Plus and Members of Parliament.


Young people will have access to instant on the spot advice, jobs, training providers, guidance and many opportunities to impress their chosen employers.


Offbeat is the youth organisation that created Southwark’s Got Talent and is an innovative not for profit organisation providing media, arts, performance, technology & entrepreneurial opportunities; delivering events and projects for young people. Our performance arts zone at the fair will host many opportunities for those interested in this area of employment with workshops featuring well-known names from TV, music, dance and theatre.


Food will be available throughout the day plus many prizes, giveaways and competitions.


Make South London Apprenticeship Fair the first stop to your new fantastic career.


For more information: Tel: 0207 708 6932

Businesses: Email Loanna@beoffbeat.org

Young people: sahar.twesigye@gmail.com

Concession and trading enquiries: tony@lcfpage.org

Posted in Black Britain, Black People in EuropeComments (0)

Caribbean UK Film Festival 2011 @ the V&A, London – Sun 10 & Mon 11 July

This year the Caribbean UK Film Festival 2011, hosted by actor Geff
Frances and Charles Thompson MBE founder of the Screen Nation Awards,
will explore the themes of fashion, music, sport and culture with a
special feature honouring the lifetime achievements of actor Earl
Cameron CBE – not to be missed!

You are encouraged to come dressed in your own style of 60s chic and /
or bring along copies of photographs of yourself, friends and family,
album covers, magazines and other related memorabilia, that illustrate
contributions within the arts, music, performance, the public services
and more and share these on the 1960s Memorabilia Wall.

Please find attached the Film Festival flyer and the Film Festival
Programme – enjoy, it’s all an education!

To book telephone the Bookings Team on 029 7942 1122 or book on-line

Tickets are £20 for a day or £30 for both days.

A special offer of £12 for a day ticket per person will be available to
Day Schools (Year 11 and above), Colleges, Universities, members of
Supplementary Schools, Elders Clubs, Home Tutoring schemes, Youth Clubs
and Children’s Homes.  Just state the name of your organisation when you
are booking.

Please bring a packed lunch and remember to set off early particularly
on the Sunday to take account of any transport closures.  Circle and
District Lines and most of the Piccadilly Line that serve the V&A Museum
at South Kensington should be offering a good service on Sunday and a
full service on Monday.  Nearest buses are C1, 14, 74 & 414.


Download The Flyers
Flyer1 – PDF | Programme – PDF

Posted in Black Britain, Black History Month UK, Caribbean HistoryComments (0)

14,000 British professors – just 50 are black


The Guardians Education Correspondent, Jessica Shepherd wrote at the end of May:

Call from leading black academics that an urgent culture change is needed at UK universities as figures reveal just 50 black British professors out of more than 14,000, and the number has barely changed in eight years, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The University of Birmingham was the only University with more than two black British professors, and six out of 133 Universities have more than two black professors from the UK or abroad. The statistics which were gathered, from 2009/10, define black as Black Caribbean or Black African, and do not include professors of South American or Asian backgrounds.

Shepherd writes “Black academics are demanding urgent action and argue that they have to work twice as hard as their white peers and are passed over for promotion”. A study to be published in October found ethnic minorities at UK universities feel “isolated and marginalised”. One wonders how these academics differ to any other minority workers in Britain? I’m sure that any study in any workplace might reveal similar figures.

Emeritus professor at the Institute of Education, University of London, Heidi Mirza, is demanding new legislation to require universities to take a stronger stance on tackling discrimination.

Laws brought in in February 2011 give employers, including universities, the option of hiring someone from an ethnic minority, if they are under-represented in their organisation and are as well-qualified for a post as other candidates. This is known as positive action. Mirza wants the law amended so that universities are compelled to use positive action in recruitment.

Mirza stated that there were too many “soft options” for universities and that there needed to be penalties for those that paid lip-service to the under-representation of minorities. Positive discrimination, where an employer can limit recruitment to someone of a particular race or ethnicity, is illegal.

The HESA figures show black British professors make up just 0.4% of all British professors – 50 out of 14,385.

This is despite the fact that 2.8% of the population of England and Wales is Black African or Black Caribbean, according to the Office for National Statistics. Only 10 of the 50 black British professors are women.

Despite the fact that 0.4% of all professors are black. I feel that someone is overlooking some glaringly obvious facts which distort the information and the context in which it has to be viewed.

The figures reflect professors in post in December 2009. When black professors from overseas were included, the figure rose to 75. This is still 0.4% of all 17,375 professors at UK universities. The six universities with more than two black professors from the UK or overseas include London Metropolitan, Nottingham, and Brunel universities. Some 94.3% of British professors are white, and 3.7% are Asian. Some 1.2% of all academics – not just professors – are black. There are no black vice-chancellors in the UK.

Harry Goulbourne, professor of sociology at London South Bank University, said that while the crude racism of the past had passed, universities were “riddled with passive racism”. He said that, as a black man aspiring to be a professor, he had had to publish twice as many academic papers as his white peers. Stating that he had switched out of the field of politics, as it was not one that promoted minorities. He called for a “cultural shift” inside the most prestigious universities.

Mirza said UK universities were “nepotistic and cliquey”. “It is all about who you know,” she said.

Visiting professor of education at Leeds University, Audrey Osler, described the statistics as “a tragedy”. “Not just for students, but because they show we are clearly losing some very, very able people from British academia.”

Black Students seeking academic posts were also questioned. Many students were seeking academic posts in the United States where they believed the promotion prospects were fairer. Some students that said too little was being done to encourage clever black students to consider academia and that many were put off by the relatively low pay and short contracts.

Nicola Dandridge, of Universities UK – the umbrella group for vice-chancellors also acknowledged the problem. Dandridge, said:

“We recognise that there is a serious issue about lack of black representation among senior staff in universities, though this is not a problem affecting universities alone, but one affecting wider society as a whole.”

A study by the Equality Challenge Unit, which promotes equality in higher education, found universities had “informal practices” when it came to promoting staff and that this may be discriminating against ethnic minorities. Its findings, Which will be published in the Autumn of 2011, are expected to call on universities’ equality and diversity departments to be strengthened.

Mirza said that despite equality committees being aware of the problem, the committees are on the margins of the decision-making.

Nicola Rollock, an academic researcher in race and education at the Institute of Education, University of London, said there needed to be greater understanding of how decisions were made inside universities. Equality departments risked being “an appendage” or a monitoring form for people applying for jobs. “We are still far more comfortable talking about social class than race in universities,” .

Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black People in Europe, Black Women, Caribbean HistoryComments (2)

Croydon Celebrates Black History

Croydon Black History Site

Here at Black Presence we are always glad to receive information about black History Month Events.  As Black History month approaches (October in the U.K)

Councils and organisations are starting to send in their information. We will relay it to you as we get it.


Croydon Celebrates Black History by:

  • remembering people, places and events from the African Diaspora that have made an historical impact;


  • profiling the traditions of African and Caribbean communities through stories, festivals, crafts, dance and costumes to enhance cultural understanding and appreciation;


  • documenting or preserving the heritage of people of African or Caribbean descent, especially local history, to pass on to future generations


There are many fantastic events and activities to choose from over the up coming months – be inspired, explore and enjoy!



Download their Brochure of Events

PDF: Croydon Listings with Photos and info

Microsoft Word: Basic Croydon Listings 2010

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Caribbean HistoryComments (1)

Dame Cleo Laine – Jazz Singer

Dame Cleo Laine

Dame Cleo Laine

Cleo Laine was one of Britains Biggest names in Jazz. She was part of the hugely successful British band led by the acclaimed John
Dankworth. Cleo Laine had modest beginnings as a singer in English dance halls, She has gone on to achieve international fame by continually expanding her talents in a career which spans some four decades. She is one of the most celebrated singers of our time.

Cleo commands a dazzling array of vocal styles and is the only singer ever to receive Grammy nominations in the Female Jazz, Popular, and Classical categories.

Her musical career began in the early 50’s in her native England, where she was born in London. Cleo showed her early singing talent was nurtured by her Jamaican father and English mother who sent her to singing and dancing lessons. However, it wasn’t until her mid-twenties that she seriously applied herself to singing and auditioned for the hugely successful British band led by the acclaimed John Dankworth.

Cleo toured extensively with the band and in 1958, she married Dankworth, which strengthened their bond as personal and professional collaborators. Together they have toured the world with sold-out engagements before enthusiastic audiences.

In addition to concert appearances, Cleo has carved a niche as an illustrious actress. Laine’s professional career in the legitimate theatre began in London when she starred in “Flesh to a Tiger”, directed by Tony Richardson at the Royal Court Theatre. Her theatrical credits include A Midsummer Night ‘s Dream, Valmouth, Women of Troy and the title role in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

Frequently, she has used her musical and acting talents to full advantage in a diverse collection of projects including Showboat and
Colette in London’s West End, The Seven Deadly Sins as part of the Edinburgh Festival.

In the U.S. she appeared in A Little Night Music and The Merry Widow. She originated the role of Princess Puffer in the Broadway hit musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, for which she received a Tony nomination and earned a Theatre World Award as well as a Drama Desk nomination for best actress in a musical.

She also starred in the Houston Ballet’s production of Lady in Waiting, an original opera/ballet composed by John Dankworth, Benny Green and J. Renault-Williams; She played the voice of God in the BBC Proms’ production of Benjamin Britten’s “Noyes Fludde”,  quite a different role than that of “The Witch” in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods in which Cleo starred in Los Angeles receiving a nomination by the L.A. drama critics for best lead performance.

In 1983 Cleo became the first British artist to win a coveted Grammy award – Best Female Jazz Vocalist, for the third of her “live” Carnegie Hall albums, all recorded at the famous New York auditorium.

Ella Fitzgerald, whom Cleo had befriended many years before on a US tour with husband John Dankworth’s big band, celebrated their wedding by sending Cleo two dozen roses together with a card reading “Congratulations, gal – and about time too!”.

In addition to receiving an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music and being named, along with her husband John Dankworth, the Variety Club’s “Show Business Personality of the Year,” Cleo Laine was honoured by Queen Elizabeth with an O.B.E.

The beginning of this decade has already brought Cleo new acclaim with a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and a Lifetime Achievement Accolade from the British Jazz Awards in 1996.

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KS3 Britain's Black History – Black Britons

Tony Warner

Tony Warner

Black History for Schools

Teachers looking for black history for schools? There has been a Black Presence in the British Isles since Roman time. In more recent Centuries the black presence is well documented should you care to look for it.
Teachers TV offers this Introductory video, which you can download from their site to start you in your investigations.

Historian Tony Warner explains how the first black people to arrive in Britain were not slaves or servants, in this easy-to-understand classroom resource for Year 7 to Year 9. Looking back through the centuries, there is evidence of influential Caribbean and African descent.

One of the earliest records of black people living in Britain is from 1511, when a North African trumpeter was depicted on the Westminster Tournament Roll. He was probably employed by both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Black men and women made appearances in the diaries of Samuel Pepys and in 18th century portraits

Tony explains how by the late 16th century, trade had opened up between West Africa and Britain and Africans began to settle here, especially in seafaring places like Bristol, London, Liverpool and Glasgow.

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Evon Brennan – Black, Irish Singer/Songwriter


Evon Brennan

Evon Brennan


Evon Brennan is a singer songwriter from Donegal in Ireland. Now living in London, Evon has firmly established herself on the live circuit. A unique voice…inspired by

her many experiences. None more so than being Black and Irish and raised in a rural setting in Ireland. Her Mother was a Dublin girl.
Her Father a Ghanaian medical student
studying at Dublin University. She has a twin sister and was raised in an orphanage, by nuns. Evon eventually traced this man to Manchester, but unfortunately he had no recollection of the events described by Evon, and asked not to be contacted again.
Of both parents, it is her Mother Evon would most like to find. Having been raised in an orphanage by nuns, Evon has direct experience of being isolated within society, and often wonders what became of her mother, when at a time in Ireland, to give birth to an illegitimate child was bad enough, but to give birth to a black illegitimate child must have been the ultimate outcastable offence.
The first orphanage Evon and her sister were sent to, as babies, was Sisters of Mercy in Ballaghdreen, Western Ireland. The orphanage was demolished several years ago, along with any records that might indicate who placed the sisters there. Evon has very few memories of this first orphanage.
Over the following 10 years Evon and her sister Carol saw very little of life outside the school, occasionally being sent to stay with local families during the school holidays. With one or two exceptions these holiday breaks were not pleasant experiences. Often used as cheap labour the girls came to dread these periods. The families were never checked for their suitability and the girls never listened to when they had grievances. In some cases resulting in serious consequences.
Evon left the home with a blue suitcase and twenty pounds given to her by the Mother Superior. Evon and her sister were sent to Dublin and a place in a hostel organised, along with a cleaning job for Evon and work in a hospital for Carol. In time, Evon started to meet people, started to see and experience a life outside of the convent, eventually joining a band called the Rascals. Evon travelled around Ireland with the band, a time she values for the experience it gave her of not only playing to an audience, and gaining confidence in her abilities, but also the confidence in herself to pursue her dreams.
The musical seed was now sown and Evon soon moved to London. Involving herself at every opportunity with any thing to do with music, absorbing as much as possible from the vast, diverse, multi-cultural  environment she now found herself in. It was this period, in London that Evon became more aware of her African heritage. Discovering a side to herself she had never really looked at. A side that the nuns would only refer to in derogatory terms.
Related Links

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