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History of Black History Month

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History of Black History Month

Black History Month Timeline

Reference - The Guardian

1948 – The Empire Windrush arrives from Jamaica. The National Health Service is established, and later, in the 1960s, Enoch Powell leads a recruitment drive in the Caribbean for nurses.

1954 – Billy Boston is the first black rugby player to represent Great Britain.

1958 – Notting Hill riots break out. After growing racial tensions, the newly arrived West Indians fight back against teddy boy gangs who are attacking them with iron bars and knives. Riots impact national consciousness and start a debate about race relations.

1959 – Kelso Cochrane, a black man, is murdered by a gang of white youths in West London. The murderers are not caught. Activists Claudia Jones organises a campaign to draw attention to this issue.

1962 – Commonwealth Immigrants Act is passed with the aim of reducing immigration from the former British Empire. Six years later the controls are tightened further.

1965 – Notting Hill Carnival, originally founded in 1959, takes to the streets.

April 1968 – Enoch Powell makes his “Rivers of Blood” speech denouncing immigration.

October 1968 – A new Race Relations Act receives Royal Assent. It makes it illegal to refuse housing, public services, and employment on the grounds of ethnicity.

1971 – Bernard Coard publishes the landmark pamphlet How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System. The book inspires a movement for equal access to educational opportunities for black school children. A new Immigration Act is passed, further restricting migration from Commonwealth countries.

1973 – Trevor McDonald joins ITN and later becomes the first black British newsreader on national TV.

1975 – David Pitt becomes a life peer, Lord Pitt of Hampstead. He later becomes chair of the British Medical Association.

1976 – The Fosters, a sitcom with an all-black cast, arrived on British TV, making a star out of Lenny Henry. Race Relations Act strengthens laws against discrimination and establishes the Commission for Racial Equality.

1977 – The National Front, an extreme right-wing party, is prevented by anti-Nazi protestors from marching through Lewisham, south-east London.

January 1978 – Margaret Thatcher says that many British people feed “swamped” by a different culture, during the build-up to the following year’s general election. In doing so, she wins over voters from the far-right National Front.

April 1978 – Rock Against Racism carnival brings together black and white teenagers. This movement helps introduce reggae to a wider audience and changes the nature of punk.

November 1978 – Viv Anderson becomes the first black footballer to play for England’s senior men’s team.

1979 – Blair Peach is killed during an anti-racist demonstration. The circumstances of his death remain unclear to this day.

1980 – A disproportionate number of young black men are stopped under the 1824 Vagrancy Act (originally designed to stop begging) during this period. This feeds much of the resentment that will explode in riots the following year.

January 1981 – New Crossfire. 13 young African-Caribbeans die in a house fire. The seeming refusal of the police to take seriously claims by witnesses that the house had been fire-bombed by racists leads to deepening anger among the African-Caribbean community.

April 1981 – The Brixton riots break out and are replicated up and down the country. In their wake, the Scarman Report makes recommendations to challenge racial disadvantage. The sus laws are also repealed.

1981 – Moira Stewart becomes the first black female news presenter on national British Television.

1984 – Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act stipulates that the police must give a reason why they are stopping someone.

1985 – Riots in Tottenham are sparked by the death of Cynthia Jarrett during a police raid on her home in the Broadwater Farm estate.

June 1987 – MP’s Bernie Grant, Paul Boeteng, Keith Van, and Diane Abbott are elected to parliament.

October 1987 – Black History Month is made a fixture in the UK for the first time.

1991 – Bill Morris becomes the first black leader of a major British trade union.

1991 – Ben Okri wins the Booker prize for his novel The Famished Road.

April 1993 – Stephen Lawrence is murdered at a bus stop in London.

June 1993 – Paul Ince becomes the first black captain of the senior men’s England football team.

1998 – Chris Ofili wins the Turner Prize.

1999 – The Macpherson report on the police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence is published. The report’s recommendations represent a watershed in UK race relations, identifying institutional racism for the first time.

2000 – Damilola Taylor is murdered. This incident raises questions about gang culture and urban poverty.

2002 – Paul Boeteng is appointed chief secretary to the Treasury, becoming the first Black cabinet minister. The following year Baroness Amos becomes the first black female cabinet minister.

2004 – Jason Robinson becomes the first black captain of the England Rugby union team.

2005 – John Sentamu becomes the first black Archbishop of York.

2006 – Frank Bowling becomes the first black artist to be elected to the Royal Academy of Arts.

2016 – Sarah Reed dies in Holloway prison, London. Reed, who had suffered from mental illness following the death of her baby daughter in 2003, had in a separate incident been violently assaulted by a police officer.

2019 – Bernadine Evaristo becomes the first Black British winner of the Booker Prize for her novel Girl, Woman, Other.

2020 – Footballer Marcus Rashford takes on the government, arguing that free school meals should be extended during the coronavirus pandemic. His campaign captures the nation and the government is forced into a series of U-Turns.

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