Celebrating BAME community successes

This pages focusses on Black British history, sharing with you some of the fantastic contributions that Black Britons have made locally and nationally.

BHM is held to highlight and celebrate the achievements and contributions of the black community in the UK. Throughout history, black people have made huge contributions to society in the fields of art, music, science, literature, medicine, transport and many more areas.

Some firsts in the UK

Baroness Amos was the first black Leader of the House of Lords. Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, CH, PC is a British Labour Party politician and diplomat who served as the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Before her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a life peer in 1997, serving as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council from 2003 to 2007.

A plaque has been unveiled to commemorate the life of Britain's first black magistrate

Eric Irons was born in Jamaica in 1921 and then settled in Nottingham following RAF service in World War Two.

Mr Irons, who died in 2007, was a campaigner for social justice, became the country's first black justice of the peace in 1962 and was made an OBE.

A ceremony on the first day of Black History Month marked the unveiling at the National Justice Museum.

Dianne Abbott

In 1987, Diane Abbott became the first black woman to become an MP. Diane Julie Abbott is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987

Viv Anderson - Footballer, born 1956

Anderson went down in the history books in 1978 as the first black player to appear in a full international for England. He won the European Cup twice with Nottingham Forest as well as domestic titles. In 1999, he was appointed MBE for services to football.

Learie Constantine - Cricketer, politician, lawyer, 1901-71

One of the finest all-rounders in cricket, Constantine moved to England from the West Indies to play professionally. He became involved in politics, fighting discrimination. He was the first black Governor of the BBC and the first black life peer.

Kelly Holmes - Athlete, born 1970

Holmes became the first British woman to win two gold medals after winning both the 800m and 1,500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2004 and made a dame in 2005.

Trevor McDonald - Journalist, born 1939

The first black news anchor in the UK, Trinidad-born McDonald is one of the most popular figures on TV. Starting his career on the BBC World Service, in 1999 he was given the Bafta Richard Dimbleby Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television.

Ignatius Sancho - Writer, composer, 1729-80

Perhaps most notable for being the first black Briton to vote in a UK election, he was also the first African author to have his work published in this country. Sancho wrote poetry, plays, composed music and became friends with the writer Samuel Johnson.

Arthur Wharton - Footballer, 1865-1930

Best known as the first professional black footballer in the English League, Wharton also excelled at cycling, cricket and running. In 1886 he became the fastest man in Britain. In 2004 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

John Kent – Britain’s First Black Policeman

John Kent was born in Cumbria in 1805 and began his duties as a police officer in Maryport in 1835 before joining Carlisle Police in 1837. Mr Kent, who died in 1886, was the son of Thomas Kent, a slave who was brought into Whitehaven and freed in the UK. A plaque has been unveiled to commemorate his life and is located at the site of  where the Maryport jailhouse used to stand.

Page updated: 24/09/2021 Page updated by: Gloucestershire County Council

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