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Our Milestones Part 4

Welcome: Dear friends and supporters, here’s the 4th excerpt from the Society’s souvenir booklet which was issued to all guests at the recent Recognition Awards event rolled out on Saturday, 29th October 2022.

It is entitled “Our Milestones,” and it is a collation of some milestones for the modern Black community starting from 1948 (when the Windrush Generation began arriving in the UK) and spanning almost eight decades. The Society hopes that this information will stimulate discussions about the arch of progress made since the community began to establish itself in the UK.

Our milestones: On the 22 June this year the national Windrush monument was unveiled by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Waterloo station in the presence of a small group of guests, most of whom were of Caribbean background. The unveiling was a public statement or tribute from the government to the Windrush generation and their descendants for their contributions to the UK since the 2nd World War. Many people across the country witnessed this event via livestreaming.

This moment of history for the Black community inspired the question about other significant moments in the UK’s modern Black community since 1948. Outlined below are a few more of the significant moments, or milestones if you will, from the 5th and 6th decades of the modern Black community.

Decades Five and Six (1988 to 2007)

1. In 1988 John Roberts QC CBE became the first Black person (of Sierra Leone background) to become a QC (or Queen’s Counsel) in the UK. He was also the first Black person in 1975 to become the Head of Chambers in Lincoln’s Inn. He also went on to become a judge in the UK and in 10 other jurisdictions (or countries overseas).

John Roberts QC CBE and Professor Sir Geoff Palmer

2. In 1989 Professor Sir Geoff Palmer became the first Black professor (of Caribbean background) at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. He was the inventor of the barley abrasion process for brewing beers and stout by the quickest method known to the brewing industry. The UK’s first Black professor of Caribbean background was Sir Arthur Lewis. He became a professor in economics at the University of Manchester in 1948.

3. In 1993 Lord Herman Ouseley became the first Black person of Caribbean background to serve as the chairman and CEO of the Commission for Racial Equality for which he received a knighthood in 1997. In June 2001 he entered the House of Lords as Baron Ouseley of Peckham Rye which is in the London borough of Southwark.

Lord Herman Ouseley and David Lammy MP

4. In 1996 Windrush Foundation was founded in London by Sam King MBE and Arthur Torrington CBE to promote good race and community relations, build cohesion, eliminate discrimination and encourage equality of opportunity for all. It organised the celebrations of the 40th and 50th anniversaries (in 1988 and 1998 respectively) of Caribbean ex-service men and women who travelled on the Empire Windrush to the UK in 1948. The organisation chose this vessel as the symbol of the movement of Caribbean people to the UK in order to take part in the post-World War Two rebuilding process. And in the period 1948 to 1971 roughly half a million people from the Caribbean made the same journey.

Sam King MBE and Arthur Torrington CBE

5. In June 2000 David Lammy, aged just 27, became the youngest MP to enter the Commons. He was born in Britain to parents of Caribbean background. He succeeded Bernie Grant who passed earlier in the year.

The next issue of the newsletter will address some more milestones from the 5th and 6th decades of the modern Black community.

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