Friday, 27 October 2017

Black History Month 2017 - Celebrating influential black British figures*




October is Black History Month here in the UK. The month is dedicated to celebrating influential and successful black figures who have greatly affected our society. To commemorate the black individuals whose achievements have impacted upon a variety of industries, easyESTA created a definitive list of 25 of some of the most successful and influential migrants of all time. The list features: Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States; Lupita Nyong’o, the first Kenyan and first Mexican actress to win an Academy award; and Gina Miller, the UK’s political heavyweight who took on the British Government and won.


While the month remembers the achievements of well-known ‘celebrity’ black individuals, what about those attainments by lesser-known citizens? These are the people who have achieved so much for our country, but simply aren’t celebrated enough. Some examples of outstanding individuals include John Sentamu, Diane Abbott, Mary Seacole OM, Betty Campbell MBE and Courtney Pine CBE.

John Sentamu

John Sentamu made the history books for becoming the first black Archbishop of York, a title he achieved in 2005. Sentamu was born in a village near Kampala, Uganda in 1949 however, he later moved to the United Kingdom as an immigrant in 1974.

He trained for a priesthood at Ridley Hall in Cambridge and was ordained a priest in 1979 - five years after arriving in the UK. In June 2005, he was announced as the 97th Archbishop of York, taking over the role from David Hope.

Sentamu’s views on young people, family, poverty, slavery and injustice and conflicts abroad are truly inspiring.

Diane Abbott

The politician made headlines in 1987 when she became the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons. Diane Abbott was born in Paddington, London in 1953 to Jamaican parents. She later went on to study at Newham College, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

After starting her career in the media, Abbott took her first steps in politics in 1982 after she was elected to Westminster City Council. After losing to Ken Livingstone for a place in Brent East in 1985, she was later elected to the House of Commons in 1987, making history as the first black female MP.

She founded the Black Child initiative, which aims to raise educational achievement levels among black children. Now the Shadow Home Secretary for the Labour Party, Abbott’s work for the country is motivating.

Mary Seacole OM

Mary Seacole OM is one of the most influential figures of our time. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805, she set up the British Hotel behind the lines during the Crimean War, assisting to the sick and wounded military personnel.

After acquiring knowledge of herbal medicine in the Caribbean, she travelled independently to set up the hotel to assistant those badly injured on the battlefield. As a result of her kindness and bravery, she became popular amongst the servicemen, who later raised money for her when she faced destitution after the war.

After her death, Seacole became largely forgotten for almost a century, but today she is celebrated as a woman who successfully combated racial prejudice. She was awarded a posthumous Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991 and in 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton. These are achievements that are still remembered today.

Betty Campbell MBE

Betty Campbell MBE became an influential figure our education system after becoming Wales’ first black head teacher. Born in Butetown, Cardiff, she won a scholarship to the Lady Margaret High School for Girls which help start her career in education.

After discovering that the Cardiff Training College was taking on female students, she applied to start a teacher training course, fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. In the 1970s, she rose to lead a school in Wales as the nation’s first black head teacher, gaining the title at Mount Stuart. She taught the children the topics of slavery, black history and apartheid.

During her career, Campbell went on to further achieve great success.She was invited to meet Nelson Mandela on his only visit to Wales and was also invited to be part of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Commission on Education. In 2003, she was awarded an MBE for her services to education.

Courtney Pine CBE

The talented jazz musician Courtney Pine CBE, is an iconic figure in the music industry. Born to Jamaican parents in London, Pine studied classical clarinet and taught himself the saxophone during his teenage years.

Pine is the principle founder of the black British band, the Jazz Warriors, which was established through the community organisation, “The Abibi Jazz Arts”. During his music career, he has released more than ten albums, including “Journey to the Urge Within” and “Modern Day Jazz Stories”.

Pine was appointed an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2009 for his services to jazz music. His music is still loved today, with his new album, “Black Notes From The Deep” released soon.

*This is a guest post
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