‘An empowering read . . . it is refreshing to see somebody celebrate the role that black Britons have played in this island’s long and complicated history’
DAVID LAMMY, author of Tribes, in ‘The best books of 2020’, the Guardian
‘Timely and so important . . . recognition is long overdue . . . I would encourage everyone to buy it!’
DAWN BUTLER MP
A long-overdue book honouring the remarkable achievements of key Black British individuals over many centuries, in collaboration with the 100 Great Black Britons campaign founded and run by Patrick Vernon OBE.
‘Buillding on decades of scholarship, this book by Patrick Vernon and Dr Angelina Osborne brings the biographies of Black Britons together and vividly expands the historical backdrop against which these hundred men and women lived their lives.’
From the Foreword, by DAVID OLUSOGA
‘I am delighted to see the relaunch of 100 Great Black Britons. For too long the contribution of Britons of African and Caribbean heritage have been underestimated, undervalued and overlooked’
SADIQ KHAN, Mayor of London
Patrick Vernon’s landmark 100 Great Black Britons campaign of 2003 was one of the most successful movements to focus on the role of people of African and Caribbean descent in British history. Frustrated by the widespread and continuing exclusion of the Black British community from the mainstream popular conception of ‘Britishness’, despite Black people having lived in Britain for over a thousand years, Vernon set up a public poll in which anyone could vote for the Black Briton they most admired.
The response to this campaign was incredible. As a result, a number of Black historical figures were included on the national school curriculum and had statues and memorials erected and blue plaques put up in their honour. Mary Seacole was adopted by the Royal College of Nursing and was given the same status as Florence Nightingale. Children and young people were finally being encouraged to feel pride in their history and a sense of belonging in Britain.
Now, with this book, Vernon and Osborne have relaunched the campaign with an updated list of names and accompanying portraits – including new role models and previously little-known historical figures. Each entry explores in depth the individual’s contribution to British history – a contribution that too often has been either overlooked or dismissed.
In the wake of the 2018 Windrush scandal, and against the backdrop of Brexit, the rise of right-wing populism and the continuing inequality faced by Black communities across the UK, the need for this campaign is greater than ever.