55 episodes

Interviews with people who were there at key moments in black and civil rights history

Witness History: Witness Black History BBC

    • History

Interviews with people who were there at key moments in black and civil rights history

    London's first black policeman

    London's first black policeman

    Norwell Roberts joined the Metropolitan police in 1967. He was put forward as a symbol of progressive policing amid ongoing tensions between the police and ethnic minorities in the capital. But behind the scenes, he endured years of racist abuse from colleagues within the force. Norwell Roberts QPM spoke to Alex Last about growing up in Britain and his determination to be a pioneer in the police force.

    Photo: London's first black policeman PC Norwell Roberts beginning his training with colleagues at Hendon Police College, London, 5th April 1967. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    • 14 min
    The first self-made female millionaire

    The first self-made female millionaire

    Madam C. J. Walker was the first ever self-made female millionaire. She was born to former slaves in the USA and was orphaned at seven but against all the odds she went on to create her own business selling black hair-care products. By the time of her death in 1919 she'd become a famous philanthropist and civil rights campaigner. Claire Bowes has been speaking to her great great granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles.

    Photo: Madam Walker Family Archives/A'Lelia Bundles

    • 10 min
    The story of George Stinney Jr

    The story of George Stinney Jr

    How a 14-year-old boy became the youngest person to be executed in the USA during the 20th century. George Stinney Jr was sent to the electric chair in 1944. He had been tried for the murder of two young girls, but when the case was reviewed by a court in South Carolina in 2014 his conviction was annulled. Ashley Byrne has been speaking to George Stinney Jr's sister Katherine Robinson, and to Matt Burgess who was one of the team of lawyers who fought to clear his name.

    Photo: George Stinney Jr in 1944. Credit Alamy.

    • 10 min
    Desmond's: A sitcom that changed Britain

    Desmond's: A sitcom that changed Britain

    Desmond's was the most successful black sitcom in British TV history. It ran on Channel 4 for over five years, attracting millions of viewers. Trix Worrell, the man who wrote it, believes that Desmond's changed attitudes to race in the UK. Trix has been speaking to Sharon Hemans about the show, and the people who inspired it.

    Image: Ram John Holder, Norman Beaton and Gyearbuor Asante (Credit: Courtesy of Channel 4)

    • 8 min
    Black GIs during World War Two

    Black GIs during World War Two

    For much of World War Two African-American soldiers were relegated to support roles and kept away from the fighting. But after the Allies suffered huge losses during the Battle of the Bulge, they were called on to volunteer for combat. Janet Ball has been speaking Reverend Matthew Southall Brown who saw action in Europe towards the end of the war. He fought in the US Army's 9th Division, 60th Regiment, Company E.

    Photograph:Volunteer combat soldiers from the 9th Division prepare for shipment to front lines in Germany. Credit: US Government Archives.

    • 8 min
    The killing of Amadou Diallo

    The killing of Amadou Diallo

    When police in New York shot a young immigrant 41 times in 1999, thousands of people took to the streets to protest. But Amadou Diallo's mother Kadiatou wanted her son to be remembered for the way he lived, not the way he died. So she flew to the US to speak on his behalf. She has been telling Sharon Hemans her story.

    • 8 min

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