Black History Month

October 2021

Image for press release - Red, Gold and Green diagonal stripes - Black History Month
(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Black History Month is just one of many opportunities to recognise and celebrate the successes Black people have made - and continue to make - in every sector and area of life in Britain.

Help us to celebrate outstanding individuals. If you have someone you would like to see featured on this page, email details to

Mary Seacole

Sometimes known as 'Mother Seacole', Mary Seacole was born in Jamaica in 1805 to a Scottish military officer and Jamaican mother who was called 'The Doctoress' for her knowledge of traditional medicines. When the War Office refused to send Mary Seacole to the Crimean War as a nurse, she travelled independently and set up a hotel to tend to military personnel wounded on the battlefield. She was well liked by service personnel, who raised funds for her when she faced hardships after the war.

Arthur Wharton

Born in 1865, Arthur Wharton moved from current-day Ghana to England in 1883 to train as a missionary. He began competing in sports as a 'gentleman amateur' but quickly moved to become a professional athlete. In 1886, he became the world's fastest known man when he ran 100 yards in 10 seconds at Stanford Bridge in London. He went on to become a professional footballer and succeeded in other sports including cycling and cricket.

Jotello Festiri Soga 

Born in 1865, Jotello Festiri Soga completed Veterinary School in Edinburgh in April 1886. Upon graduation, he become the first black member of the RCVS and also the first South African-born qualified veterinary surgeon. He returned to South Africa, where he worked on programmes of inoculation against lung sickness in cattle, developed his interest in bacteriology and tried to halt the spread of Rinderpest.

Walter Tull

Walter Tull was born in 1888. He became a professional footballer, playing for Clapton, Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town before enlisting in the military at the outbreak of the First World War. In 1917, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant, making him the first British Army officer known to have African-Caribbean heritage. In 1918, he was killed in action during the First Battle of Bapaume.

Margaret Busby

Also titled, Nana Akua Ackon, Margaret Busby was born in 1944. In the 1960s, she co-founded the London-based publishing house Allison and Busby with Clive Allison, making her the youngest publisher and first black, female book publisher in Britain. In 1992, she edited the anthology Daughters of Africa, and its 2019 follow-up New Daughters of Africa.

Olive Morris

Born in 1952 in Jamaica, Olive Morris fought for racial, social and gender equality throughout the 1960s, becoming a community leader and co-founder of the Brixton Black Women's Group as well as launching the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD). She died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma aged 27.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

Born in in 1957, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones trained as a chef and worked for the BBC, before purchasing a small farm on the Devon/Cornwall border. He launched 'The Black Farmer' brand and the motto 'flavours without frontiers'. Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones' scholarship scheme gives young people from inner city communities an opportunity to experience life and work in rural areas. He was awarded an MBE for services to farming.

Sonia Boyce

Artist Sonia Boyce was born in 1962. She explores art as a social practice and the critical and contextual debates that arise from this area of study. She is Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London and was elected by the British Council to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale 2022. In 2007, she was awarded an MBE for services to art.

Ade Adepitan

Born in 1973, Ade Adepitan is a wheelchair basketball player and was part of the 2004 British Summer Paralympics Team, where he gained a bronze medal. He is a supporter of many charities and the patron of Go Kids Go. His many television appearances include presenting the Invictus Games and guest-presenting The One Show. In 2005, he was awarded an MBE.