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Simply Heavenly

Musique: Margaret Martin
Paroles: Langston Hughes
Livret: Langston Hughes

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This Timeline was compiled from a number of sources. It is intended to act as a broad overview of the subject rather than as an exhaustive history. We use the word Black conscious that today it means different things to different people – and add to its meaning those people discriminated against because of the colour of their skin.

Bold type indicates a key event in the history or literary heritage of Black British people. Italics indicate the title of a publication or play, followed by its author. The year listed is the year of publication for books and of premiere performances for theatre, unless otherwise noted.

210 African soldiers, described as a ‘division of Moors,’ are sent by Rome to defend Hadrian's Wall. The presence of these Africans predates the arrival of those who are today considered ’English,’ since Britannia (modern-day England) was created during Roman rule.
800 The Ancient Irish record the existence of ‘blue men’ from Morocco who were captured by the Vikings and taken to Ireland.
1000 A young African girl dies in North Elmham, Norfolk. Her body will be found almost 1000 years later.
1441 Antam Goncalves, Portuguese sailor, seized ten Africans near Cape Bojador; generally seen as the start of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Early 1500's A small group of Africans are ‘attached,’ or enslaved, to King James IV's court.
1511 Henry VIII employs a Black trumpet player, who receives 8d a day.
1515 First samples of Caribbean sugar sent to Spain.
1541 Between 1541 and the 1850's, there are 61 taverns called the ‘Black Boy’ in England and 51 called ‘The Blackamoor's Head’ in London alone.
1550 The first English traders land in West Africa.
1555 Five West Africans come to London from present-day Ghana to learn English and assist traders.
1563 Sir John Hawkins, an ‘unscrupulous adventurer,’ purchases 300 Africans from the coast of Guinea and sells them at Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), thus beginning England's foray into the slave trade.
1570 s African slaves come to England as servants for households, prostitutes to the wealthy and court entertainers.
1596 Queen Elizabeth, despite her fondness for Black entertainers in court, is disturbed by the growing Black population in England and issues an edict ordering English slaveholders to 'have those kinde of people sent out of the lande.’
1624 England colonises Barbados and St. Kitts.
1641 Frances, a 'Blackymore maide' servant who joined a church, became the first recorded person of African heritage in Bristol.
1642 – 1646 The Great Civil War. Charles I is captured. Queen Henrietta Maria and Charles, Prince of Wales, escape to France.
1647 First Barbados sugar sent to England.
1649 Charles I is beheaded. The Interregnum; the Commonwealth established.
1650-1800 Sugar, needed to sweeten the newly created and insatiable English appetite for tea, chocolate, and coffee, dramatically increases the number of African slaves in Britain. Absentee plantation ‘sugar barons’, government officials, navel officers and army captains bring slaves to Britain. In much smaller numbers, Africans came to England as free sailors, recruited to replace white English sailors who had died while at sea. For the next 150 years slavery is the driving force behind Britain's Triangular Trade economy and fuels the Industrial Revolution.
1660 The Restoration; Charles II returns from France and takes the throne.
1663 The Royal Adventurers became the first English company chartered to take part in the African slave trade. The company reflects the ‘cream’ of English aristocracy; twenty-five percent of the company's stock was owned by the King and Queen of England.
1665 English capture Jamaica from the Spanish.
1672 Establishment of the Royal African Company to take control of the British slave trade. It transports an average of 5,000 slaves year.
1688 Oroonoko, Aphra Behn's popular story of the life of an enslaved African prince, is published.
1698 Private traders, on payment of 10 percent duty on goods exported to Africa, are given parliamentary approval to participate in the slave trade.
1700's By the eighteenth-century, the ‘Black presence’ in England has become a reality. The visible signs of slavery are evident especially in port cities (Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff) and London. Street names such as Black Boy Alleys, Black Boy Court, Blackamoor's Head Yard, reflect the nature of the businesses and people living there. In London Black pages dressed in silks and satins are a sign of wealth and status. Interracial marriages between working class White women and Black men are documented in paintings, prints, engravings, popular novels and plays.
1700 Liverpool’s participation in the slave trade begins in September when the Liverpool Merchant set sale for Barbados carrying 220 slaves, who are sold for £4,239.
1707 Act of Union between Scotland and England.
1713 The signing of the Treaty of Utrecht gives Britain the right to provide Spain’s colonies with slaves and Britain becomes the world's pre-eminent slavers.
1729 British law continues to be contradictory in court rulings on issues of slavery. Africans enslaved because they were heathens did not necessarily gain their freedom when baptised. Most slaves respond to the legal confusion by simply freeing themselves; the numbers of runaway slaves increases throughout the eighteenth century.
1731 Job Ben Solomon, a non-European educated African descended from Muslim royalty, is captured in Gambia and sold to a Maryland slave owner. A British general intercepts a letter in which Solomon pleads for his release and is so impressed by the writer's level of education that he orders that Ben Solomon should be taken to England. There, Ben Solomon becomes the darling of Britain's intellectual set, is 'lionised and feted by polite society.'
The Lord Mayor of London proclaims that no Black person will be taught trades, and neither Black slaves nor servants were entitled to poor law relief or wages.
1732 Black characters feature regularly in William Hogarth’s engravings, such as Southwark Fair.
1738-1739 Liverpool's slave trading peaks and eclipses Bristol’s lead when its vessels travel 52 times to Africa.
1750 Parliament gave annual grants to British Royal Africa Company totalling £90,000.
1752 The monies brought from Britain's slave trade accounts for 40% of Europe's economy.
1754 Anglo-French war begins in North America.
1756 Seven Years War starts.
1757 India captured from the French.
1759 Two Africans, one being Prince William Ansah Sessarakoo, recently rescued from slavery, attends a showing of the play Oroonoko, adapted from Behn's 1688 book.
1765 The letters of Philip Quaque are stored in the Rhodes House Library in Oxford. Most of Quaque's letters were written to London missionaries asking for their help in maintaining various missions in Africa.
1770 A Narrative of the Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince, Related by Himself is published.
1772 A declaration makes it illegal to forcibly remove any person from England.
1773 Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, by Phillis Wheatley, is published. Although the author was an American, her work was 1st published in London due to an inability to get any work published by a Black person in the United States. She was the first Black female author to be published in Britain or America.
1775 American Revolution begins.
1777 Richard Pennant elected M.P. for Liverpool'. He owns 8,000 acres of sugar plantations and over 600 slaves in Jamaica. He is re-elected from 1784 to 1790.
1781 3 of the 41 councillors in Liverpool are slave ship owners or major investors in the slave trade.
1782 The Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho is published after his death by his children.
1783 Peace Treaty signed between Great Britain and the United States. Black North American soldiers, who fought alongside British soldiers in the American Revolutionary War, arrive in London to reap the ‘freedom’ they were promised. Instead they experience homelessness, starvation, or kidnapping and re-enslavement.
1787 All 20 of Liverpool's mayors holding office between 1787 and 1807 finance or own slave ships.
Ottobah Cugoano’s (John Stuart) Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species is published. It is more outspoken than previous and contemporary works on the evils of slavery.
1789 The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, Written by Himself is published and becomes a bestseller. It is widely used to fight in the abolition of slavery in Britain.
1801 Union of Great Britain and Ireland.
1804 Ira Aldridge, ‘The African Roscius’ is born in America. In 1824 he emigrates to Britain and becomes the first Black actor to play the major Shakespearean roles winning acclaim as Othello, King Lear, Shylock, Macbeth and Hamlet.
1808 Britain and the United States abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
1812 Britain and the United States are at war.
1813 Sweden abolishes the slave trade.
1814 Treaty of Ghent ends Anglo-U.S. War.
Britain and allies invade France.
1815 Charles Dickens writes about a Black woman who dressed as a man and surreptitiously served as a British sailor for eleven years after leaving her husband.
1815 The Life, History and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, by John Jea is published.
1821 Spain abolishes the slave trade.
1824 The Horrors of Slavery, by Robert Wedderburn was published. This vivid account of slavery is the most passionate and radical thus far.
The Rights of Man in the West Indies is published under the pseudonym Anthropos.
1827 Britain declares slave trading piracy, and is thus punishable by death.
1829 Peel establishes the Metropolitan Police.
1831 The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, by Mary Prince is published; the first account of the female slave experience.
1833 Emancipation Act in British Parliament, introduces 5 year apprenticeship system.
1833 Slavery finally abolished in the British Empire.
1846 Sweden abolishes slavery.
1853 American Prejudice Against Colour, by William G Allen. This autobiography talks about the prejudice that exists in America in regards to interracial marriages and Allen’s decision to flee from America to avoid persecution.
1853 – 6 Crimean War.
1857 The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands, by Mary Seacole, is one of only two books by Black British women published in the nineteenth century. It tells the story of a freeborn Black woman who served as a nurse to the British during the Crimean war.
The Indian Mutiny.
1859 American Black and White Minstrel performer, George Washington Moore, performs in St James’ Hall, London and creates popular demand for White performers who ‘black-up.’
1867 Canada is the first British colony given self-governing Dominion status.
1868 West African Countries and Peoples, by James Africanus Beale Horton, argues for self-government in the West African countries.
1879 The Zulu War.
1881 African Trading: or the Trials of William Narh Ocansey, by John E. Ocansey and tells a different kind of story of slavery.
1887 Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, by Edward Wilmot Blyden’s is published.
1889 Froudacity, by J. J. Thomas is a response to a book by an Oxford Professor, Froude, which is racist in its treatment of Black West Indians. Thomas eloquently refutes the claims of Froude with factual evidence as well as exposing the Professor as a racist.
1891 Control of West African trade passes to the Elder Dempster Company, a Liverpool shipping firm.
1900 Australia becomes a Dominion.
1910 South Africa becomes a Dominion.
1914-1918 The first substantial numbers of Afro-Caribbeans arrive in Britain to fight in WWI.
1918 Walter Daniel Tull, a famous Black footballer is the first Black man commissioned into the British Army in WWI. He dies on a battlefield in Favreuil in the second battle of the Somme.
All men over 21 and women over 30 are given the right to vote.
1918 Public outcries mount for immigrant restrictions, particularly in seaport towns where White residents fear competition from Black seamen during recessions and unemployment. White people also voice concerns over ‘inter-racial liaisons’ and poverty.
1919 Race riots occur in seaside towns.
1922 The African Churches Mission is founded by Nigerian Pastor G. D. Ekarte in Liverpool for unemployed and ‘stranded’ African seamen.
1926 Imperial Conference held. For the first time, Britain is prepared to accept the dominions as free countries within the British Commonwealth of Nations.
1928 Equal voting rights for men and women.
African American actor, Paul Robeson, stars in Show Boat, Drury Lane in London’s West End.
1930 First Empire or Commonwealth Games are held.
Paul Robeson plays Othello in London.
1931 West Indian doctor Harold Arundel Moody founds the missionary and welfare League of Coloured Peoples in Merseyside.
Statute of Westminster; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa become freely associated members of the British Commonwealth. This new status of the so-called "White Dominions" helped to ease tension and provided clarification for these countries on their position within the Commonwealth.
The Beacon is published and is highly influential throughout the Black community under the editorship of Albert Gomes.
1932 Iraq gains independence.
At the Imperial Economic Conference Britain agrees to give preferential treatment to certain goods from commonwealth nations.
1936 Egypt gains independence.
How Britain Rules Africa, by George Padmore, is a critique of British colonialism in Africa.
1938 Paul Robeson turns down a West End show to appear in Plant in the Sun, a strike play produced by the radical left-wing company Unity Theatre.
1939-1945 The second (and larger) wave of Afro-Caribbeans arrives in Britain to fight in WWII. Several thousands fight in the RAF and other branches of the armed forces, and to serve as military technicians. Many others are also recruited to work in Merseyside munitions plants.
1940 The British Colonial Office begins welfare work for Black seamen and their families in seaport towns.
1941 The British Ministry of Labour open a welfare hostel in Liverpool.
Labour Minister M. A. Bevan argues that Britain should ‘dismiss the idea’ of bringing West Indian labourers to Britain ‘from the start.’ And the possible arrival of additional West Indians causes fear within official circles that a potential ‘colour racial problem’ will arise in Britain.
1944 The 1944 Education Act combines church, state, and charitable schools that had once been separate under the control of local education. Detractors in the 1960's and 1970's maintain that the system institutionalised religious and class differences and, from its inception, automatically placed Afro-Caribbean children into programs for 'under-achievers,' and declared most Asian children inferior due to cultural and language differences.
Negro Repertory Arts Theatre, one of the first Black theatre companies in Britain, produces Eugene O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings, at Colchester. NRAT was founded by Robert Adams, a British Guyanan who had a highly successful career as an actor in film, theatre, radio and television.
1946 Les Ballets Negres is founded; the first black dance company in Europe. This pioneering company toured throughout Britain and paved the way for other Black dance groups such as Pearl Primus, Mas Movers, Kokuma, IRIE!, Adzido, Sakoba and Phoenix.
1947 India, Pakistan and Burma become independent.
1948 Nearly 500 people arrived in Britain on board the Empire Windrush and 100 enter on the S. S. Orbita. The Windrush's passengers are detained on board, interviewed, and most are placed in agriculture, the iron foundries, railways, and in other industries that needed labourers.
Passage of the British Nationality Act provides for common British citizenship for Commonwealth members.
Britain’s previous ‘laissez-faire’ policy towards Black immigration comes under attack but the importance attached to the citizenship rights of British subjects becomes the obstacle to tightening controls on the numbers of Black migrants to Britain.
Among the 492 Jamaicans who arrive in England seeking the employment are the writers Wilson Harris, George Lamming and Samuel Selvon.
1949 Membership in the Commonwealth widened to include republics such as India, as they were more willing to join this new idea of a Commonwealth of Nations.
The Republic of Eire becomes independent.
The first colonial Black football team from Lagos, Nigeria plays at Merseyside, home of Britain's largest and oldest Black community, and defeats the Marine team, 5-2. The touring Nigerian team is the first of many colonial teams from Africa and the Caribbean who, from 1949-1959, are be used prove that Britain's economic and political system was far superior that any offered in Africa.
1950's Britain continues to invite West Indian workers and British Rail, the National Health Service, and London Transport particularly recruit workers from Jamaica and Barbados. By the mid-1950's most of the West Indies have lost one-third of their workforce.
There are over 30,000 'coloured British subjects' in Britain, and 5,000 have migrated since 1945 with a majority from West Africa and the West Indies.
Levels of Black unemployment in Merseyside and Liverpool concern citizens and led to calls for deportation and a quota of how many Black workers are needed at each port.
1951 In other parts of Britain labour shortages increase the numbers of West Indian nursing and labour recruits. This rises from less than 1,000 persons per year in 1951 to 10,000 per year in 1954.
The Society of Friends meet at Toynbee Hall to discuss promoting racial harmony through increased welfare programs and changing the restriction policies used by British labour unions.
The remains of several Roman-era (third-century AD) African soldiers are exhumed in an archaeological dig at York.
Edgar Mittelholzer’s novel, Shadows Move Among Them focuses on the differences between cultures and the need for creating new ones.
1952 The Wales Establishment Office reports that Black males can only find employment on foreign-owned ships, and that Black women have been forced from jobs as domestics and shop girls to working for ‘mainly rag and bone merchants in the docklands area.’
British Ministry of Labour Staff Association reports that only half of the 152,000 job vacancies for that year are open to Black men due to job quotas, a ban from jobs where White women also worked, racist stereotypes, and perceptions of a low skill base.
1953 George Lamming’s first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, portrays the life experiences of Barbadian children.
1955 The number of West Indian nursing and labour migrants increases to an average of 32,850 per year.
1956 As the need for workers is reduced a substantial number of West Indian migrants return home.
Yvonne Brewster, co-founder of Talawa Theatre Company, comes to England as one of Britain’s first Black women drama students, attending Rose Bruford and the Royal Academy of Music.
1958 Racial clashes occur in Nottingham and Notting Hill in London. The Conservative Macmillan government, strong on law and order, support the police, punish offenders and reassure West Indian officials. Civil liberty groups denounce the violence encountered by Blacks. The politicisation of Black immigration issues and escalating violence assist the Conservatives in their fight for immigration controls.
The segregation of Blacks people into manual jobs has given these occupations the ‘taint’ of racial inferiority. In a Ministry of Labour brief presented to the House of Commons, it is revealed that white unemployed people are 'not suitable for the kind of jobs held by the coloured people.'
1959 The fatal stabbing of Kelso Cochrane by a White assailant and the police’s handling of the incident confirms the belief among Notting Hill’s Black community that the police are far from racially impartial.
A Raisin in the Sun has its British premiere at the Adelphi Theatre, London. The actor playing George Murchinson was harassed and beaten by police in Trafalgar Square. He was fined £7 for assaulting an officer.
E. R. Brathwaite’s first novel, To Sir, With Love, was published.
Shelagh Delaney’s play, A Taste of Honey, controversially deals with an inter-racial relationship and the birth of a mixed race child.
1960 Birmingham Immigration Control Association, a fascist, far right wing political cell, is created and heralded in the British press.
Palace of the Peacock is the first novel by Wilson Harris.
The Black and White Minstrel show is a regular feature in the West End theatre and on Sunday evening television.
1961 The British government begins to keep official statistics on Commonwealth immigration.
South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth due to its apartheid policy.
1962 Britain passes the Commonwealth Immigrants Act to restrict the entry of non-White Commonwealth citizens to Great Britain. As a consequence the numbers of West Indian immigrants falls to less than 14,000 a year.
1963 The Black West Indian Association notes that brutal attacks by the police had escalated without public criticism
Cyril Lionel Robert James’ Beyond a Boundary covers his philosophy on life, art, culture and political ideology told through the game of cricket as a model for life.
1964 The Feather Pluckers, written by John Peter Jones depicts the lives of three Black British youths and their battles with society.
1965 The Notting Hill Carnival is started by writer and activist Claudia Jones and takes place during August Bank Holiday weekend.
1966 Joseph A. Hunte publishes Nigger Hunting in England? which is presented at the West Indian Standing Conference on police brutality.
1968 Wole Soyinka publishes his poem, Telephone Conversation in Voices.
1970 Two-fifths of the Black population in Britain are second-generation.
1971 Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles agrees that all Commonwealth Nations support a loose set of principles including individual liberty, international peace and cooperation, opposition to all forms of racism, and a willingness to promote free and fair trade.
Leeds police officers are convicted of the manslaughter of David Oluwale, a Nigerian vagrant but receive light sentences.
As Time Goes By, by Trinidad-born Mustapha Matura, premieres at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and then the Royal Court, London. It receives the George Devine and John Whiting Awards.
1971 Selective Commonwealth immigration policies result in larger numbers of white-collar workers and their families migrating to Great Britain.
1972 Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth in protest at the recognition of East Pakistan as Bangladesh, but rejoins some years later.
The West Indian Standing Conference issue a memorandum to Parliament’s committee on relations between the Black population and police. The committee’s chairman responds that ‘the memorandum which you have submitted to us does present a case almost akin to civil war between the West Indians and the police.‘
Temba, a theatre company pioneering new Black writing from Britain, Africa, America and the Caribbean, is formed by Oscar James and Alton Kumalo. Playwrights involved include Mustapha Matura, Jimi Rand, Edgar White and Leroi Jones. Temba is the Zulu word for hope.
Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners tells the story of the isolation that is felt by Caribbean communities who arrived in Britain in the Great Migration of the 1950s.
1973 The international oil crisis of 1973 heralds the end of Britain’s need for post-colonial labourers.
Sociologist Maureen Cain publishes Society and the Policeman’s Role, and argues that stereotypes and racial epithets are part of the police used to ‘control’ Blacks
1973 Nkemba Asika self-publishes a volume of his poetry entitled, Black Waves.
1974-1976 Four ‘Political and Economic Planning Reports’ are published and indicate that most of the two million people of African heritage in Britain are subject to discrimination in employment, housing, education, and areas of law enforcement.
1975 In Troubled Waters, Ernest Marke gives a rare account of what it was like to be Black in Britain before 1950.
Linton Kwesi Johnson publishes a poem entitled Rage in Dread Beat and Blood.
1976 The Bride Price, written by Buchi Emecheta emphasizes the role of the wife in Nigerian life.
Albert Gomes, previously editor of The Beacon and a politician in Trinidad, publishes his controversial autobiography, which relates his views of British government.
Tara Arts is established, becoming the first theatre company in Britain to be run by Asian artists.
The Blood Knot¸ by Athol Fugard performed by Temba.
1977 Sizwe Bansi is Dead, by Athol Fugard, Winston Ntshona and John Kani performed by Temba.
1978 Roy A. K. Heath’s novel, The Murderer is published.
A wave of Jamaican middle-class emigrates to Britain due to governmental unrest in their homeland.
1979 Another account of police brutality, Police Against Black People, is submitted to the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure. The evidence, taken from lawyer’s case files, legal and advisory centres, Black self-help groups, and personal interviews, argues that Britain’s police ‘no longer merely reflected or reinforced popular morality [but] re-create it - through stereotyping the Black section of society as muggers and criminals and illegal immigrants.’ By the beginning of the 1980’s Black youth swear they were not going to take any more abuse from police officers.
1981 The number of British persons born in the West Indies has increased from 15,000 in 1951 to 304,000 in 1981. At the time, the total population of persons of West Indian ethnicity was between 500,000 and 550,000.
The Education Act of 1981 paves the way to race-based educational segregation, which allowed White parents to remove their children from predominantly Black or Asian schools that didn’t reflect proper ‘British culture.’
Increasingly, Black people have to provide proof of citizenship to receive health and welfare service benefits, or to have access to housing, education, and employment. Future Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher justified British racism as a necessary measure; ‘People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.’
Thirteen Black people burned to death in a fire that the Black community believed was racially motivated in Deptford. Over 15,000 Black protesters march from Deptford to central London in protest against widespread injustices against the Black community. In what is perceived as a retaliatory gesture police unleash ‘Swamp 81’ against Brixton’s Black community. In six days, 943 Black people are stopped and detained on the street and 118 are arrested and Brixton erupts in a rebellion, with violence spreading to Southall, Toxteth in Liverpool.
1982 The Black Theatre Co-operative is formed. Pioneered by dramatist Mustapha Matura and director Charlie Hanson it produces works by Black playwrights such as Jacqueline Rudet, Edgar White and Farrukh Dhondy.
1983 Grace Nichols’ publishes her book of poetry, i is a long-memoried woman.
1984 David Dabydeen’s collection of poetry, Slave Song, is published and wins the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.
Les Isaac’s Dreadlocks is published and gives an autobiographical account of one man’s struggle to survive as a Black man in Britain.
Amos A Ford gives his account on the role of Black service men during WWII in his narrative, Telling the Truth: The Life and Times of the British Honduran Forestry Unit in Scotland (1941-1944).
Desmond Johnson’s poem Mass Jobe in Deadly Ending Season looks back at the life of an older man and relates the disappointment he feels at not accomplishing his goals in England.
Black Mime Theatre formed by David Boxer and Sarha Cahn.
1985 A British Home Office study reports that over 70,000 racially motivated attacks occur each year.
Talawa Theatre Company is founded by Yvonne Brewster, Mona Hammond, Carmen Monroe and Inigo Espejel. The company aims to use Black culture to enrich British Theatre, to demonstrate Black talent and to enlarge theatre audiences among the black community. Its inaugural production is The Black Jacobins by CLR James.
John Agard edits a book of old and new poems in a volume entitled, Mangoes and Bullets.
Fred D’Aguiar’s book of poems entitled Mama Dot is published. It won the 1984 Commonwealth Poetry Prize and has received national attention.
James Berry publishes Confession in Chain of Days.
Caryl Philips’ novel, The Final Passage, won the Malcolm X Prize in the Greater London Literature Competition.
Joan Riley’s novel, The Unbelonging, explores the alienation a little girl feels as she is moved from her home in Jamaica to England and back to Jamaica again.
The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe.
1986 James Berry’s text, The Rise of Dub Poetry and After, serves as the first substantial critical work on contemporary African-British poetry.
Woza Albert!, by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon is staged by Temba.
Prodigal, by Ivor Osbourne explores issues of alienation in his story of a man’s return to Jamaica after living for several years in Britain.
1988 The 1988 Education Reform Act builds upon the new freedoms given parents in the 1981 Education Act to chose (within limits) their children’s schools.
1989 Mahogany Carnival Arts, a group of multidisciplinary artists combining British theatre design, Asian and Caribbean performance traditions and Carnival ‘mas-making’, is founded by Clary Salandy and Michael Ramdeen and becomes a regular feature at Notting Hill Carnival and other events in Paris, Nice and Trinidad.
Back Street Mammy, by Trish Cooke, performed by Temba.
1990 The Black Mime Theatre expands by forming the Black Mime Women’s Troupe.
Streetwise, the first play by dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah is produced by Temba.
1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration made in which commonwealth countries agreed to promote democracy and human rights in developing countries as well as sustainable economic and social development.
1992 John Patten, the secretary of state for education, publishes a White Paper that makes it possible for more schools to ‘opt out’ of local education control.
A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home is a collection of interviews by John Western in which Barbadians discuss their memories of their homeland and the reasons they felt they had to leave it.
1992 The Ensemble combines the Black Mime Theatre and Black Mime Women’s Troupe to create Heart performed in the Young Vic Studio.
1993 22 April, Stephen Lawrence, a Black A-Level student, is murdered in an unprovoked attack in Eltham, London. After a series of attempted public and private prosecutions no one has yet been convicted of the crime.
Running Dream, by Trish Cooke is produced. This play tells the story of three generations of Black Dominican women.
Iced by actor and singer, Ray Shell, is published by Flamingo.
1994 South Africa rejoins the Commonwealth.
Talawa’s production of King Lear. Ben Thomson played the title role and became the first Black man to play the part since Ira Aldridge in 1859.
The Booker Prize committee awards a special Best of the Past 25 years, to Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
Fred D'Aguiar's first novel The Longest Memory wins the Whitbread Award.
1995 Whitbread awards Salman Rushdie best Novel prize for The Moor's Last Sigh.
The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi, is published by Faber.
The Saga Prize is awarded to Diran Adebayo for his first novel Some Kind of Black.
1996 Steve Martin's historical thriller, Incomparable World is published.
New Nation newspaper launched.
Andrea Levy publishes Never Far From Nowhere.
1997 The Theatre Museum and Talawa collaborate on Blackgrounds, a project to record interviews with senior Black theatre professionals.
Mike Phillip's The Dancing Face about a stolen African mask is published.
Leone Ross' first novel All the Blood is Red.
LARA the first novel of Bernardine Evaristo, is published.
1998 John Agard engaged as BBC Poet in Residence, to commemorate Windrush celebrations.
Empire Windrush - the irresistible rise of Multi-racial Britain by Mike Phillips.
Empire Windrush - Fifty Years of writing about Black Britain, edited by Onyekachi Wambu
1999 Tricycle Theatre stages The Colour of Justice, an adaptation of the report of the public inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.
Ray Fearon is the first Black actor to play Othello in Stratford-upon-Avon since Paul Robeson in 1959.
2001 David Oyelowo is the first Black actor to play a king in one of Shakespeare’s history plays as part of the RSC’s season at the Young Vic.
The Young Vic brings A Raisin in the Sun to the London Stage and Les Blancs is performed in Manchester.
Push, a diverse mix of contemporary Black arts, media and culture takes place at the Young Vic.
2002 Adrian Lester plays the title role in Peter Brook's Hamlet at the Young Vic.
2003 Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Francesca Annis' son in Michael Grandage's production of Noel Coward's The Vortex at the Donmar Theatre. Michael Billington calls it "A fine performance that transcends the artificial barriers of race."

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