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

Claudia Jones

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.

Agnes Mwakatuma

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 Campbell

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.

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. She learned a lot about medicine and nursing from her mother.
When hearing about the Crimean war, she wanted to help but as a black woman, she wasn’t allowed. When she was refused, Mary found her own way to raise funds and travel as she wouldn’t let the discrimination stop her.
Mary opened a “British Hotel” near to the battlefields, where soldiers could get food, drink and could be cared for if injured.
After the Crimean War, many of the soldiers wrote to the newspapers about all she had done for them, and 80,000 people attended a charity gala in 1857 to raise money for her.
After her death, her work was largely forgotten, but it is imperative to remember her work. She is a heroine of the war and history.

Alice Kinloch

Alice Kinloch has been wrongly written out of history and it is almost impossible to source an image of her. However, she was VERY significant.
Alice Kinloch was born in Cape Town and came to Britain in the late 1890s.
She co-founded the African association and was an active figure in politics. After becoming treasurer of the African Association, she organised the first Pan-African Conference in 1900 which is usually credited to a man (Henry Sylvester- Williams).
“We haven’t heard the name of the person who actually inspired the pan-Africanist movement. It was a woman called Alice Kinloch.” – Hakim Adi, professor of African history.
If you’re looking for to learn more about  inspirational black women, you can read our blog post here.
You can also read our Role Models stories such as Sinead Rose who set up the Afro Google Network and Etienne Hodge, a Graduate Site Engineer at Galliford Try.

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