Black British icons who changed the country

Ira Aldridge -
Aldridge was one of the highest-paid actors in the world during the 19th century. He even toured across Europe.

Fanny Eaton -
Eaton made a huge impact in the world of art. She was the muse for many Pre-Raphaelite artists, and helped represent black women in Western art.

Arthur Wharton -
Wharton was the first black pro-footballer in the Football League. He lived from 1865 to 1930, and in 1886, became the fastest man in the country.

Learie Constantine -
Constantine moved to England from the Caribbean to play cricket. He then got involved in politics, and even became the first black Governor of the BBC.

Evelyn Dove -
Dove was a cabaret star in 1920s Britain, breaking boundaries as a black female performer. Unfortunately, she faded into obscurity, and died alone in Surrey.

Margaret Busby -
During the ‘60s, Busby became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher. She worked on the groundbreaking ‘Daughters of Africa’, and is a prolific literary activist.

Joan Armatrading -
Armatrading was raised in the slums of Birmingham. In the ‘70s, she became a world famous singer-songwriter.

Wiley -
In the late ‘90s, it’s said Wiley created a new musical genre. Grime was born out of his pirate radio experimentation, giving rise to a new breed of black British musicianship.

Shirley Bassey -
Bassey was the original diva, a Welsh singer who has sung three ‘James Bond’ themes. With a career spanning more than 50 years, she even counts the Queen as a fan.

Lenny Henry -
The British stand-up is hugely influential. He co-founded Comic Relief, a charity programme which has raised millions for causes worldwide.

Kelly Holmes -
There aren’t many athletes like Kelly Holmes. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, she became the first British woman to win two gold medals.

Zadie Smith -
Smith was just 24 when her debut novel, ‘White Teeth’, hit the bookshelves. She has become a leading British novelist, and has taught at New York University.

Lewis Hamilton -
Hamilton is just 33 years old, but he is still considered one of the best drivers in history. The Formula One maestro has won the World Championship four times.

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