Are you crazy about history? Well, here are some facts about some special people you might not have heard about before. It’s popular in Britain to celebrate Black History Month – the achievements and contributions to history made by people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Black culture isn’t all about rap singers and sportsmen and women! No, sir. Let’s take a closer at some of those extraordinary folks who helped shape history and make us what we are today!
Francois Toussaint L’Ouverture
Napoleon called him ‘the black Spartacus’. He was an educated free black man living on Haiti. At that time Haiti belonged to France and was home to thousands of slaves. Many of these slaves, inspired by the American and French revolutions rose up against their masters. Toussaint established himself as their leader and waged a guerilla war against the French. The war was extremely brutal with massacres being committed by both sides. Toussaint won several victories before being captured and imprisoned in France where he died several years later. After his death in 1803 the revolution continued with Haiti becoming independent on the 1st January 1804. Unfortunately Haiti’s future was not a happy one with civil war and over 200 presidents and dictators being assassinated.
Jamaican fighter pilot
William Strachan was an 18 year old Jamaican who wanted to join the RAF at the outbreak of the Second World War. Most ships coming to Jamaica were bringing people fleeing the war. Strachan after selling most of his personal possessions got a ticket travelling in the other direction. After reaching London he went to the Air Ministry telling them he wanted to join the RAF. Their response was unprintable! They thought he was from Kingston, Surrey, not Kingston Jamaica. Undeterred William was finally accepted. He couldn’t understand why most people seemed to want to escape the war rather than help out. Finally he was accepted and became a fighter pilot. Wouldn’t his story make for a great film? William Strachan; a true Brit!
Learie Nicholas Constantine was a world class cricketer who, once his successful career came to an end, became an advocate against racial discrimination in the UK. In later life he was influential in the passing of the 1965 Race Relations Act in Britain. He was knighted in 1962 and made a life peer to the House of Lords in 1969 giving him the impressive title ‘The Right Honourable Lord Constantine.’
1989 was a huge year for British politics seeing the election of 5 black parliamentarians, Dianne Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant, and Keith Vaz to the Lower House as well as Lord Pitt to the Upper Chamber!
As of 2017 there are 52 visible minority MPs. Operation Black Vote said many more ethnic minority candidates won in non-urban areas which showed the UK was „comfortable with its multicultural society.”
This is only the very tip of the iceberg when talking about the vast contribution of Britons of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Of course we could add many more stories to the ones selected here but we hope you will agree that they are fascinating figures. Maybe you could add some choices of your own? Which black Britons have inspired you with their achievements?
 Diverse – varied
 Shape history- make history what it is today
 Spartacus – led a slave revolt against the Romans.
 Rose up – rebelled
 Guerilla war – unconventional war
 Undeterred – not giving up