Afro-British (Black British)

Afro-British( Black British) are British subjects of African descent. Although the term, Black British, can include people of South-Asian descent, the term here is used to mean strictly people of African descent.
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Black British comprise 2.2% of the British population. They are predominantly of African(800,000) and Anglo-Caribbean roots. Britain has 1/3 of a million mixed race of Caribbean and white individuals.

The growth among Afro-Caribbean population has been slow at .9%.

Black Britons view themselves as British first and black second. They can be found throughout Britain, with the greatest concentration in London. They are concentrated in the following boroughs of London: Hackney (12%), Lambeth (12%), Newham (13%) and Southwark (16%).


Early Centuries to 1500

The first blacks in Britain were soldiers stationed with the Roman army at Hadrian Wall, in the 2nd and 3rd century. Vikings raiding North Africa took black captives and brought them to Ireland and Britain.

Timeline of Afro-British History

1562 John Hawkins first English slave trader
1637 Dutch teach sugar production to English in caribbean
1713 Treaty of Ultrecht, Britain wins the asiento to 1805
1731 Law bans Blacks from learning the trades
1770 Lord Mansfield makes decree that all slaves free if they join
          British forces in American Revolutionary War
1772 -James Somerset Case- argued slaves free on British soil
         -Granville Sharp gets courts to declare slavery illegal on
          British soil
1775 Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, decreed all slaves free if 
          join the British army in American Revolutionary War 
1776 Adam Smith's Wealth of A Nation declares slavery 
          economically inefficient
1782 Ignatius Sancho's letters get published
1786 Granville Sharps founded the Committee for the Relief of the   
          Black poor  
1790 Black population about 15,000,including black loyalist from 
         America, from Revolutionary war
1808 Slave trade abolished in British Empire
1823 British Anti-Slavery society formed
1833 British Emancipation Act, ends slavery
1838 Apprenticeship stipulation, ex-slave work for master, ended
1885 Berlin Conference, Britain & European powers partition Africa
1913 John Robert Archer-first black mayor in England, Battersea
1919 Cardiff Riots, blacks being attack by whites over jobs
1931 League of Colored People formed -publishes Key
1948 Nationality Act offers citizenship to former colonies
1958 Nottingham and Notting Hill Riots, blacks attacked by whites  
          over jobs 
1966 Race Relation Act-prosecute anyone inciting racial violence
1976 Race Relation Act-bans discrimination in public places. Also 
          creates the Commission for Racial Equality(CRE)
1973 Black Britain, first book publish by black british born, Chris 
1980 Bristol Riots
1981 Brixton Riots
1987 Four blacks elected to Parliament-Black Caucus
1997 Trevor Phillips declared Lord Taylor of Warwick

Groups of Blacks served the Scottish Royal Court in the early sixteenth century. The court of James IV and James VI had Moorish servants. Moorish was the term used for black.

1500s to World War I

Between 1500-1850, a sizeable black population existed. Early 1700s, it was reported that 10,000 black people lived in Britain. Between 1764-1772, the black population was 15,000 to 20,000. 

With British expansion into the Triangular Trade, the black population in Britain took off in the sixteenth century. Instead of being Moorish servants, they started being noted as slaves. Some were sailors and laborers. They became lodged in British society. Queen Elizabeth I, had a black maidservant. She also had black musicians and dancers in her court.   

During the latter sixteenth century, for the first time in British society the fear of the black population was express. In the 1590s, Elizabeth I tried to expell all blacks in England. Elizabeth expressed the view that there were too many blacks in England. England at that time was facing famine, poverty, and epidemics, and Elizabeth tried to scapegoat blacks as the cause of the problem.
Slavery was legal in Britain till 1772. Many slaves run away to the East End of London. The black female population in Britain was estimated at 20%. Much interracial unions took place between the black population and poor white Britons, to the disgust of the British middle class. Most black people were poor, but not all. They were allied with poor whites and not a threat.  
The abolition movement began to be active in the 1770s and 1780s and challenged notion of black intellectual inferiority and ingrained inhumanity. In the 1890s, we see the beginning of the black political press with pioneers as S. J. Celestine Edwards.

African Colonies Year
Anglo-Egypt Sudan  
Gold Coast(Ghana) 1902 
North Rhodesia(Zambia)  
Sierra Leone  
South Rhodesia(Zimbabwe) 1897 


World War I to Present

Between 1914-1945, the Black population in Britain surged. In 1919, Britain has its first race riots. This period of time is also when very significant black intellectuals and political leaders resided in Britain: Jomo Kenyatta, C. L. R. James, George Padmore, and Marcus Garvey. Much political activity took place and formation of numerous political organizations.
After World War II, Britain passed the Nationality Act of 1948, which granted United Kingdom citizenship to citizens of Britain’s present and former colonies. This was largely due to labor shortages in Britain. Post 1950s, we see Afro-Caribbean men being viewed as a social deficit in British society.
By the mid-1970s, two out of every five black person in Britain were born in the country.

Current Status

The African population is one of the most highly educated groups in Britain, but their jobs don't reflect their education. They are typically over-qualified for their respective professions. Black African school children tend to meet the average requirements of school children on academic exams. This is not the case with Afro-Caribbeans.
Relationship between Blacks and police remain strained. Charges of racism has surfaced.

Famous Afro-British

S. J. Celestine Edwards
Ian wright(footballer)
Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780)
Olaudah Equiano 
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor  (1875-1912)
Mary Seacole, the "Black Florence Nightingale," 
John Edmonstone, who taught taxidermy to Charles Darwin
Walter Tull, a professional soccer player and First World War officer
William Davidson
Robert Wedderburn
William Cuffay
Naomi Campbell
Freema Agyeman
Hanif Kureishi
Caryl Phillips
Michael Abbensetts
Edgar White
Mustapha Mutura
Mike Phillips
Sam Dean
Bernardine Evaristo
Victor Headley
SI Martin
Diane Abbott 
Bernie Grant 
Paul Boateng
Chuka Umunna


Works Cited

More Black People Jailed in England and Wales Proportionally Than In US. The Guardian. 10 October 2010.

Black Prescence . Asian and Black History in Britain, 1500-1850,  retrieved 19-Nov-2011

White, Lorraine. The History of Blacks in Britain

Chater, Kathleen. Black British History.

Fryer, Peter(1993). Aspect of British Black History. Indexreach Limited,  ISBN 1871518040, 978187151804

Sandhu, Sukhdev. The First Black Britons. BBC History. Feb-02-2011-retrieved 19-Nov-2011