Black people have helped define and redefine Britain for millennia – but most people in the UK would fail to name a single Black British figure from history, shameful new research has found.
From pioneering nurse Mary Seacole to Ancient Roman governor Quintus Lollius Urbicus to the millions of Africans kidnapped in the transatlantic slave trade, Black stories are an integral part of British history. Yet most of us are shockingly ignorant on the subject.
Some three quarters of British adults admit that they do not know “very much” or “anything at all” about Black history, fresh YouGov polling shows. Of the 2,268 adults who participated in the survey, more than half (52%) could not recall any Black British historical figures, while only 7% could name more than four.
This knowledge gap is “distressing but not surprising,” award-winning British-Nigerian author Atinuke has urged. Bloomsbury – who commissioned the polling – recently published Atinuke’s Brilliant Black British History, a children’s book celebrating thousands of years of Black people in Britain.
The government needs to “overhaul” the curriculum to tell all British stories, the author has urged.
“You cannot truthfully tell British history without including Black people,” she adds. “We need One History – all British histories being told and taught together, in every school and university in the UK. Otherwise, racist myths about British history will persist.”