Black history

Celebrating! In 1987, activists set up the first British Black History Month.

The death of George Floyd has sparked global protests against discrimination and police violence. Many people in the UK have been calling for better education to combat racism in society.

  • When did slavery start?

    Slavery is the treatment of human beings as property to be bought and sold. It has occurred in many forms throughout human history and in almost every ancient civilisation.

    The transatlantic slave trade began in the 1400s, spanning three continents. West African kings sold their people to European traders. Enslaved people were sent to the Americas to work on plantations. The trade sold an estimated 10 million Africans into slavery over 400 years.

  • What happened after slavery ended?

    People in Britain actively opposed the transatlantic slave trade from the 1770s. They were known as abolitionists and called for the system to end. In 1833, an act of Parliament freed more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Canada. While slavery was now illegal, many saw black people as second class citizens and former slaves living in Britain still faced daily racism.

  • What was the civil rights movement?

    Slavery was abolished in the USA in 1865, but widespread discrimination continued. In many states, black children were forced to go to different schools. There was separate seating on public transport and black people were banned from going into some shops. By the 1950s, activists like Martin Luther King Jr were fighting for equal rights in what became known as the civil rights movement.

  • What is the Windrush generation?

    On 18 June 1948, a ship called the Empire Windrush docked at a port in Essex. It had travelled from the Caribbean. On board were 492 young people ready to start new lives working in Britain. It was the start of a new wave of immigration in the UK. The British government had invited members of commonwealth countries to come to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War Two. Today, people who arrived from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 are known as the Windrush generation in honour of the first ship.

  • What is Black Lives Matter?

    In 2013, an African American teenager called Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. The man responsible was released and later declared innocent in a trial. Thousands around the world saw the story as a tragic example of racism, and the Black Lives Matter hashtag began trending across social media. Later, activists took on the phrase and started a campaign. Today, Black Lives Matter is a global organisation fighting racism.

  • Have we beaten racism?

    Although we have come a long way since the transatlantic slave trade, racism still exists. The death of George Floyd has highlighted systemic discrimination. Organisations and individuals are now suggesting ways of achieving real equality, including changing the education system to include black history and urging the removal of statues honouring slave traders.

You Decide

  1. Should the national curriculum include more black history?

Activities

  1. Write a blog post about the history and aftermath of the transatlantic slave trade.

Word Watch

Abolitionists
People who want to abolish something, in other words, bring it to an end.
Discrimination
The unjust treatment of different groups of people.
Martin Luther King Jr
A civil rights activist best known for his I Have a Dream speech given in Washington DC in 1963.
Immigration
Coming to live permanently in a foreign country.
Commonwealth
A group of 54 states, most of which are former British colonies.
Systemic
Something that is deeply rooted in a system or society.

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