‘Over nearly two decades of leading Black History walks around London the question we’re most frequently asked is: “Where is Black London?” The question could come from an African-American tourist, a white British academic or sometimes from a black Londoner. The answer was always the same: “Black London is everywhere!”’
Africans have been in London since the Roman occupation and have been a visible and continuous presence there since the mid-16th century. Yet British domestic history struggles to place Black people within its narrative. In The Guide to Black London, S. I. Martin and Michael Ohajuru offer neighbourhood-level insights into the continuity and extraordinary impact of Black people on the capital’s politics, culture and self-image. Street by street they reveal the networks of statesmen, writers, entrepreneurs, sportspeople, doctors, revolutionaries and others who changed the history of the city and the world, including:
- Black thinkers like Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano were central to the fight against the slave trade and founders of the first known Black interest lobby group ‘The Sons of Africa’.
- Britain’s first Black Mayor was John Richard Archer of Battersea in 1913.
- The pioneering neurologist and physician Dr Risien Russell had a surgery on Wimpole Street.
- The Jamaican nurse and businesswoman Mary Seacole lived in Soho Square.
- Ira Aldridge, the great African American actor, made history as the first Black man to play Othello at the Covent Garden Theatre in 1833.
- Andrew Watson captained the 1881 Scottish side that beat England 6-1 at The Oval.
- Islington and The City’s Samuel Ajayi Crowther was the first Black Bishop in the Church of England in 1864.
Mapping places, people and institutions across the city, Martin and Ohajuru detail the significant places, dates, actions and events. From the first Africans in Roman London to descendants of the Windrush Generation, The Guide to Black London embraces all that is Black in the capital and the impact people of African descent have had in creating and defining London as one of the world’s greatest cities.