Black History Fact of the Day
1:07 minutes (265.66 KB)
In 1974, David Pitt became the first black leader of the Greater London Council. Born in Grenada, Pitt studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in the the 1930s. After a frustrating time in Caribbean politics, where he helped found the West Indian National Party, Pitt settled in England to practice medicine and later became involved with the Labour Party and played an active role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. He was elected to the Greater London Council in 1961 where he served until 1977. Several times, he unsuccessfully ran for parliament but was made a life peer in 1975.
1:19 minutes (312.29 KB)
In 1962, the Trinidad-born cricketer, lawyer, politician and broadcaster Sir Learie Constantine was awarded his knighthood while he was serving as High Commisioner to London for Trinidad and Tobago. Constatine who started his careers as a cricket player in the 1920s and played in test matches for West Indies until 1945. In the same year he was asked to serve as the president of the League of Coloured People in London. After receiving an MBE in 1946 he qualified as a barrister in 1954.
1:03 minutes (249.94 KB)
1958 saw the first major British production of a play by a black writer when the Royal Court Theatre in London produced Moon on a Rainbow Shawl by British journalist, playwright and actor born in Trinidad Errol John. The play won the Observer Play of the Year in 1953 and is still performed around the country today. Errol John later played a black solicitor in the 1967 BBC series Rainbow City which was the first BBC serial to feature a black actor in a lead role.
1:06 minutes (261.27 KB)
In 1948 the former German cruise liner Empire Windrush brought the first large group of Caribbean immigrants to the United Kingdom. Most of the 492 passengers were young men who only intended to stay for a short time to learn a trade and return to Jamaica. Their arrival caused some controversy within the Labour government but most of them were able to find work within a month and establish themselves in the community.
1:25 minutes (335.04 KB)
In 1945, the fifth and last Pan African Congress was held in Manchester. It was attended by 90 delegates from organisations from various African countries, the United States, Britain, and the Caribbean. Also participating were representatives of the trade unions. It was attended by many future political leaders such as Hastings Banda, Kwame Nkrumah or Jomo Kennyata and prominent black intellectuals including the organisers Amy Garvey and George Padmore, as well as the African American historian W. E. B. Du Bois who organised the first congress in 1919.
1:14 minutes (294.84 KB)
In 1943 the BBC started broadcasting Caribbean Voices, a programme aimed at representing the Caribbean through creative writing. By its end in 1958, it had broadcast over 400 stories and poems. The programme was first produced by the Jamaican feminist writer Una Marson and later on by Henry Swanzy. Under Swanzy the programme expanded and helped foster the careers of many young Caribbean authors including two future Nobel prize winners Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul. Swanzy also established an office in Jamaica and started paying authors for their contributions.