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

Witness History: Witness Black History BBC

    • Geschiedenis

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

    Britain's World War Two 'Brown Babies'

    Britain's World War Two 'Brown Babies'

    The US first began sending troops to the UK in 1942 to help in the war effort. It is estimated that at least two million American servicemen passed through the UK during World War Two and tens of thousands of them were black. The African-American GIs stationed in Britain were forced by the American military to abide by the racial segregation laws that applied in the deep south of the US. But that didn't stop relationships developing between British women and the black soldiers, some of whom went on to have children. Babs Gibson-Ward was one those children. She has been speaking to Farhana Haider about the stigma of growing up as mixed raced child in post-war Britain.

    (Photo: Hoinicote House children, c.1948. Boys and girls whose parents of mixed ancestry met during WWII. Credit: Lesley York)

    • 10 min.
    The Bristol bus boycott

    The Bristol bus boycott

    In 1963 a small group of British black activists started a pioneering protest against racism within the local bus company in Bristol. It had specified that it did not want to employ black bus drivers. Inspired by the example of the US Civil Rights Movement the boycott ended in victory and led to the passage of Britain's first anti-discrimination laws.

    Paul Stephenson and Roy Hackett spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2013 about their part in the protest.

    Photo: Park Street in Bristol in the early 1960s. (Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

    • 8 min.
    The Notting Hill riots

    The Notting Hill riots

    In August 1958 Britain was shocked by nearly a week of race riots in the west London district of Notting Hill. The clashes between West Indian immigrants and aggressive white youths known as Teddy Boys led to the first race relations campaigns and the creation of the famous Notting Hill Carnival. Using voices from the BBC archives Simon Watts tells the story.

    Photo: Street scene in Notting Hill at the time the race riots broke out in 1958. Credit: Getty Images.

    • 8 min.
    The first black woman MP in Britain

    The first black woman MP in Britain

    In 1987 Diane Abbott became the first black woman elected to the British Parliament. The daughter of first generation immigrants she was one of only four black MPs elected that day. In 2015 Diane Abbott spoke to Farhana Haider about her journey into the political history books.

    Photo: Diane Abbott in 1986. Copyright: BBC

    • 9 min.
    Learie Constantine - fighting racism in the UK

    Learie Constantine - fighting racism in the UK

    The great West Indian cricketer, lawyer and member of the House of Lords took a London hotel to court when it refused to let him and his family stay there in 1943. Susan Hulme brings us his story from the BBC archives.

    Photo: Sir Learie Constantine outside Westminster Abbey in 1966. Credit: Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images.

    • 8 min.
    Britain's first female black headteacher

    Britain's first female black headteacher

    Yvonne Conolly was appointed head of Ringcross Primary school in North London in 1969. She had moved to the UK from Jamaica just a few years earlier and quickly worked her way up the teaching profession. She faced racist threats when she first took up the post but refused to allow them to define her relationship with the children she taught.

    Photo: Yvonne Conolly in a classroom. Copyright: Pathe.

    • 8 min.

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