In this #YesSheCan blog, we are celebrating and sharing the names and achievements of inspiring black women as part of Black History Month.
It is vital we remember the Black British people who shape our history but yet have been wrongly erased.
It’s important to remember that black history, culture, art and people should NOT only be remembered during this month – but always.
Here is an example of some (amongst the many) influential and powerful black women who helped to shape Britain. They did this through their selfless and fearless actions despite oppression and the discrimination they faced.
Mavis Best was the Leader of the Scrap SUS Campaign in 1981.
The “SUS” laws became a systematic method of racist harassment used by police to stop, search, arrest, detain and assault young black people during the 1970s.
African-Caribbean people made up just 6% of London’s population yet they accounted for 44 % of those arrested under the “SUS” law in the late 1970s.
Alongside other women from Lewisham, Mavis lobbied the government for 3 years until the law was scrapped.
“We used to scan the papers daily and if there was anything inaccurate about our community we would immediately respond with a rebuttal or story from our perspective. If we don’t do that then people tend to believe what they hear” – Mavis Best
She was a journalist, feminist and political activist who fought for the rights of black people and working-class people.
After being deported from NY to England, she founded the West Indian Gazette in 1958, one of the first major black newspapers in England.
In Britain, racism was rampant – black people were underpaid, bars would refuse to serve them and violence towards black people was increasing.
Following the racist attacks on the black community in Notting Hill, Claudia created the Notting Hill Carnival to celebrate the art, food and music of the Caribbean.
Although it was important for people to be aware of the brutality of racism – Notting Hill should not be defined by riots.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Agnes Mwakatuma was born in Tanzania and has lived in the UK for 12 years.
In 2020, she co-founded Black Minds Matter UK with Annie Nash in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Black Minds Matter UK aims to improve Black people’s access to mental health services in the UK.
The charity has raised $2.1 million, including partnerships with Jefferies Group, Jo Malone and Nike.
Agnes Mwakatuma has been named Mental Health Advocate of the Year at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2022 and is listed in Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Naomi Elaine Campbell is a British supermodel and actress who was born in London.
She has appeared on over 500 magazine covers with sources saying ‘she was the first black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue’.
She has founded 2 charitable organisations including Fashion Relief, which raised over £1 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The other is We Love Brazil, fighting poverty by supporting local artisans.
In 2019, the British Fashion Council honoured Naomi Campbell with the Fashion Icon Award.
This was in recognition of Naomi’s contribution to the fashion industry as well as her philanthropic work.
Image Credit: Georges Biard