Black British History Timeline
21st century saw Black communities become a key part of UK society with Black people holding prominent positions in politics, arts and business but racial inequality still shapes the community.
2000 to present
Craig David released UK garage album ‘Born to Do IT’ and took UK garage to the mainstream. The album debuted at number 1 on the UK Album Charts and sold 7.5 million copies worldwide.
Damilola Taylor was murdered. This incident raised questions about gang culture and urban poverty amongst sections of the poor Black community.
Rapper/Producer Wiley MBE created ‘Eskibeat’ which later became known as ‘Grime’ and a new UK musical genre was born. Fellow grime pioneer Dizzee Rascal won the prestigious Mercury Award for his album ‘Boy in da Corner’ the next year.
Channel U television channel launched and becomes the first music channel dedicated to promoting Grime music.
Patrick Vernon OBE launched the 100 Great Black Britons poll to celebrate the greatest Black Britons of all time. Mary Seacole tops the poll.
John Sentamu becomes the first Black Archbishop of York.
Michael Eboda, then editor of the New Nation newspaper, launched the Powerlist to help celebrate influential Black Britons and inspire the next generation.
Prudential became the first FTSE 100 company to appoint a Black chief executive, Tidjane Thiam.
On 4 August 2011, Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police in Tottenham, north London, sparking the largest civil unrest the UK has seen for a generation. The disturbance quickly spread and for five nights, London, Birmingham, and other major cities in England were engulfed by fire and violence
Malorie Blackman, author of Noughts and Crosses, became the UK’s children’s laureate.
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock co-presents Sky at Night on television and became the first Black presenter of the show.
Artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen is nominated for Best Film Director and won the Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave. He is also an award-winning artist who won the Turner prize in 1999.
Black Business Awards were founded by Melanie Eusebe and Sophie Chandauka to celebrate and promote the significant contributions by Black professionals in Britain.
Edward Enninful becomes editor-in-chief of British Vogue magazine. His multi-ethnic first edition features Mixed heritage model Adwoa Aboah on the cover. Vanessa Kingori becomes the magazine’s publishing director.
Birmingham City University introduced a Black Studies undergraduate degree programme
The Windrush scandal began to surface in 2017 after it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the ‘Windrush’ generation, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.
Hollywood actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a lavish event at Windsor castle.
Patrick Vernon OBE successfully campaigned for Windrush Day to recognise all migrant contributions in helping shape British society. It was introduced on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration and is an observed day in the United Kingdom.
Black British Theatre Awards are launched, and the first-year winners include Sharon D Clarke, Beverley Knight and the musical Hamilton.
UK rapper Stormzy set up the Merky Foundation with the purpose of donating £10m over a decade to help organisations that are dedicated to fighting racial equality in the UK. The following year, he donates £500,000 to the Black Heart Foundation to help young people from underprivileged backgrounds through college or university.
65 ethnic MPs were elected to Parliament of which 21 were of Black or Mixed-Race heritage. One in five Labour MPs are now from an ethnic minority compared to 6% of Conservatives.
World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a pandemic and most of the world went into lockdown to contain the virus. The Black British population was particularly hard-hit by the virus with studies finding that they’re at greater risk of catching and dying from the infection. Numerous reports suggest that the high prevalence is due to racial inequality in employment and housing.
Following the brutal killing of George Floyd by policemen in America, Black Lives Matter protests sweep the world. There are demonstrations in the UK about racism and questions are raised about Britain’s colonial past and its role within the slave industry. The statue of slaveholder Colson is torn down in Bristol.
Diana Abbott becomes the longest serving black MP. Her long-running parliamentary career includes joining the shadow cabinet under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn during 2016-20.