Black American Influence in London: An Overlooked History

By Linn Washington Jr. | The Root

Mention the history of African Americans in Paris and images immediately flood of fabled artists, authors, activists and entertainers who found succor and success in the famed City of Light. There is likely no such recollection for the black American presence in London, Europe’s other famed capital city.

But black Americans have made “a big difference to the lives of black people in England,” said the founder of London’s acclaimed “Black History Walks,” Tony Warner. Some were escaping their own persecution in the U.S., while others found a welcome audience for their talents.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr. inspired black Brits to organize boycotts against racial discrimination, Warner said.

“Britain has done a great job in erasing the history of its black residents and their struggles,” Warner said. “If they did acknowledge that history, they would have to recognize that they were part of an international racist system.”

Yet the British have found the space to commemorate at least six historic individuals, two Caribbean-born, all tied to black America, who had an influence in London.

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