Updated: Oct 11, 2021
As the UK's Black History kicks off, Google Doodle celebrates the extraordinary life of Abolitionist, Composer and Writer, Igantius Sancho
To honor the start of the UK’s Black History Month, today’s Doodle, illustrated by UK-based guest artist Kingsley Nebechi, celebrates British writer, composer, business owner, and abolitionist Ignatius Sancho. A former slave who advocated for abolition through prolific letter-writing, Sancho became the first person of African descent to cast a vote in a British general election.
Born in Africa around 1729, Ignatius Sancho was enslaved for the first five years of his life on the Caribbean island of Grenada before he was taken to England as a toddler. There, he was forced to serve as a slave for three sisters in Greenwich but eventually managed to run away and escape. He then gained employment with another aristocratic family for whom he worked for the next two decades. Having taught himself to read and write, Sancho utilized his employers' extensive library to further his self-education.
A skilled writer, Sancho penned a large volume of letters, many of which contained criticism of 18th-century politics and society. Newspapers published his eloquent calls for the abolition of slavery, which provided many readers their first exposure to writing by a Black person. The multi-talented Sancho also published four collections of music compositions and opened a grocery store with his wife in Westminster. As a financially independent male homeowner, he was qualified to vote—a right he historically exercised in 1774.
Sancho’s extensive collection of letters was published posthumously in 1782, garnering huge readership and widespread attention to the abolitionist cause.
The Google Doodle was illustrated by UK-based guest artist Kingsley Nebechi. He says: The topic was a great chance to explore a really crucial part of Black history. Creating the Doodle inspired me to explore various artistic elements from historic times, which is one of my favorite things to do during the creative process.
Thank you, Ignatius Sancho, for your courageous fight in the name of freedom and equality.