Historical timeline of Black History in the UK, the struggles the changes that have made an  impact, the inovators and activists

British Black 1950-2000 Timeline

HistOry & TIME

  • 1958

    By 1958, 120,000 black people from the Caribbean and 350,000 people from Ireland were working in Britain. Also, 90,000 from displaced European countries had also come to the country to work.

  • 1958 (August)

    Violence broke out in Nottinghill and Nottingham due the racially motivated attacks on black people, where Teddy boys and white supremacists attack black people in the streets. The black people were blamed and officially they were deemed riots.

  • 1959 (May)

    Kelso Cochrane was set upon by white youths who stabbed and killed him. Later, activist Claudia Jones organised events to celebrate Caribbean culture "in the face of the hate from the white racists"

  • 1961

    Dr Martin Luther King, during a four-day visit in 1961, recorded a landmark edition of the BBC interview programme Face to Face, a wide-ranging encounter with the celebrated interrogator John Freeman.

  • 1962

    PM Harold MacMillan passed an immigration law that prevented immigrants from coming to live in Britain without an employment voucher. Which meant they could only provide white immigrants with the voucher. Commonwealth countries were no longer deemed British subjects. Years later, William Deedes admitted the act was to prevent people of colour coming to the country.

  • 1963 (April)

    Bristol bus boycott - this was because black and Asian people were not permitted to work on the buses.

  • 1964

    Conservative MP, Peter Griffiths, was elected, by a landslide, in the Smethwick general election on the slogan “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.”

  • 1965

    Michael de Freitas, aka. Abdul Malik or Michael X founded Racial Adjustment Action Society (RAAS). The Observer referred to him as the "authentic voice of black bitterness."

  • 1965

    Race Relations Act was formed and a board was set up to investigate cases of racism throughout Britain. Also, it became illegal to incite racial hatred and to discriminate in public venues.

  • 1965 (February)

    The US political activist Malcolm X visits Smethwick, in the West Midlands, nine days before he was assassinated. In Smethwick he stated that there were areas which were worse than any in the US for racism.

  • 1966 (January)

    Joseph Hunte’s report, Nigger Hunting in England? is published by the Commonwealth Institute. After documenting the ready use of dogs against black people and the frequent instances of overt racialist abuse, Hunte wrote that ‘it has been confirmed from reliable sources that sergeants and constables do leave police stations with the express purpose of going nigger-hunting.’

  • 1967 (November)

    King visited Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where he spoke about the racism in the US and the UK being similar. Five months later he was assassinated. “Whether it exists in the United States of America, whether it exists in England, or whether it exists in South Africa, wherever it is alive it must be defeated. Somewhere along the way, in this sometimes sick and often terribly schizophrenic world, we have got to come to see that the destiny of white and coloured persons is tied together.”

  • 1967

    Michael X became the first person to be charged and imprisoned under the UK's Race Relations Act, which was designed to protect Britain's Black and Asian populations from discrimination. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison for advocating the immediate killing of any white man seen "laying hands" on a black woman. He also said "white men have no soul".

  • 1967

    Roy Sawh was a Guayanese “black man”, who was put on a watch list because of his speeches at speakers corner.

  • 1967 (july)

    Stokely Carmichael, the leader of SNCC (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and one of the most prominent leaders in the American Black Power Movement, came to London as part of an international tour, where he was quoted as saying “everytime they slap us, we’re going to move to break their arms”, after which he was expelled from the country.

  • 1967 (August)

    Obi Egbuna started the Universal Coloured People’s Association (UCPA), the first British Black Power organisation. Egbuna stated "Black Power means simply that the blacks of this world are out to liquidate capitalist oppression of black people wherever it exists by any means necessary."

  • 1968

    The British Black Panther Movement (BPM) were founded in the summer of 1968, by Obi Egbuna, Darcus Howe, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Olive Morris and later included Altheia Jones, H. O. Nazareth, Barbara Beese and Farrukh Dhoney.

  • 1968

    Altheia Jones, who was born in Trinidad and moved over to England at the age of 20 to do her Phd in biochemistry, became one of the leaders of the British Black Panther Movement, after the arrest of Obi Egbuna. Altheia Jones-LeCointe played a key role in ensuring that defending black women and girls was at the core of the movement. This included building structures into the organisation to ensure that men suspected of the abuse or exploitation of women were interrogated and punished if found guilty.

  • 1968

    The Race Relations Act established the Community Relations Commission, which made it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment and bank loans.

  • 1968 (April)

    Enoch Powell gave his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech describing black people as “wide-grinning piccaninnies” (an offensive word for a small black child) and stated black and Asian people could never be British. In a later interview he stated “The West Indian or Indian does not, by being born in England, become an Englishman. In law he becomes a United Kingdom citizen by birth; in fact he is a West Indian or an Asian still”. A poll later stated that 74% of British people agreed with him.

  • 1968

    The Mangrove, opened by Frank Crichlow, was an important meeting space for the black community in the Notting Hill area.

  • 1968 (October)

    Tommy Smith and John Carlos put their names in the history books after competing in the 200m, in the Mexico summer Olympics and coming first and third respectively, then standing on the podium displaying symbols of the struggle for equality in the US. This sends waves around the black population of the UK.

  • 1969

    Michael X became the self-appointed leader of a Black Power commune on Holloway Road, North London, called the "Black House". The commune was financed by a young millionaire benefactor, Nigel Samuel. Michael X said, "They've made me the archbishop of violence in this country. But that 'get a gun' rhetoric is over. We're talking of really building things in the community needed by people in the community. We're keeping a sane approach."John Lennon and Yoko Ono donated a bag of their hair to be auctioned for the benefit of the Black House.

  • 1970

    Mangrove protest march. Darus Howe, now a part of the British Black Panther Movement, joined the protest and was one of the none (Mangrove Nine) arrested, Altheia Jones was another, both representing themselves in court.

  • 1970

    BUFP (Black Unity and Freedom Party) started, with members such as Alrick (Ricky) Xavier Cambridge, George Joseph, Danny Morrell and Sonia Chang. They became famous for their “Black Voice” journal, which took a radical anti-capitalist, anti-racist and pro-socialist stance.

  • 1971 (January)

    The Black House burned down in mysterious circumstances, and soon Michael X and four colleagues were arrested for extortion. His bail was paid by John Lennon and Michael de Freitas fled to Trinidad.

  • 1975

    Michael X was hung, after being arrested in Guyana for the murder of two people found in the Black House commune.

  • 1977

    Darcus Howe was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for assault, after a racially motivated altercation at a London Underground Station, but was released upon appeal after protests over his arrest.

  • 1978

    Margaret Thatcher stated in an interview that she felt that the country was being “swamped” by immigrants and that it was to be expected that white people would not treat them well and why the National Front was growing.

  • 1981 (January)

    New Cross House Fire - 13 young black people died in a house party blaze and the police ruled out the possibility that it was deliberate, even though everyone who suffered believed it was an arson attack.

  • 1981 (January)

    20,000 black people marched (arranged by John La Rose and Darus Howe) from Deptford to the centre of London demanding an investigation into the arson attack. Media later classified the mostly peaceful march as a riot.

  • 1981

    Police used the Vagrancy Act of 1824 to stop and search black people in what was known as the “sus” law.

  • 1981 (April)

    With 943 black people stopped under “sus” and 118 arrested, riots broke out (Brixton Riots) in London, these spread to Handsworth, Birmingham to Moss Side, Manchester, to St.Pauls, Bristol, to Toxteth, Liverpool. Liverpool’s Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford stated the riots stemmed from the “half-castes”

  • 1993 (April)

    Stephen Lawrence was murdered, in SouthEast London, by a group of white youths, in a racially motivated attack. ❏ 7th May - Five white suspects arrested and two were charged ❏ 29th July - Charges were dropped ❏ 22 December - Inquest Halted ❏ April 1994 - Crown Prosecution Service refused to prosecute ❏ April 18th-25th 1996 - Murder trail and all three were aquitted ❏ February 1999 - MacPherson report published stating that institutional racism ran through the police. ❏ April 2005 - Double jeopardy law was revoked ❏ May 2011 - Gary Dobson and David Norris went to trial for Stephen Lawrence murder. ❏ January 2012 - They were found guilty ❏ After this the police were under scrutiny for trying to discredit the family, even putting an undercover police officer among the Lawrences to come up with information to discredit them.