BBC Radio 1Xtra: Black History Month
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22/9/18621862eventPresident Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of all slaves in Confederate territory by January 1, 1863.rightsAbraham_Lincoln more on Wikipedia
11/10/18651865eventThe Morant Bay rebellion, led by Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, began in Jamaica, but eventually it was brutally suppressed by Governor Edward John Eyre.rights more on Wikipedia
1960eventChief Albert Luthuli, President of the ANC, wins the Nobel peace Prize and passes through London on his way to collect it. He is met by a group of UK-based black activists including Claudia Jones (see 1964) and Pearl Connor-Mogotsi (see 1963).rights
21/3/19601960eventOn March 21, 69 people are shot dead in South Africa in what becomes known as the Sharpeville Massacre. It occured during a protest against the the humiliating and inconvenient ID passes that Africans had been forced to carry after a law passed in 1958.rights
1960eventGandhi and his leadership of India toward independence during 1947 had a great impact on African nationalists. They worked toward the same goal during the politically active 1950s. In 1960 alone these countries became fully independent; Cameroun, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar, Zaire, Somalia, Benin, Niger, Bourika Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania and Nigeria. The majority of Africa was independent by the end of the 60s.rightsMohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi
1960eventA TV drama called The Dark Man stars Earl Cameron as a West Indian cab driver. It tries to honestly examine the reactions and prejudices he faces at work. During the 60s there were an increasing number of programmes that explored the black experience in the
1960eventThere was also a burst of creativity British black theatre in the early 60s initiated by the prize-winning Moon On A Rainbow Shawl by Errol John (1957). Plays such as Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel ('62) and Jamaican Barry Reckford's Skyvers ('63) played at the Royal Court
1960eventWole Soyinka (originally of the Yoruba tribe, Nigeria) wins a Rockefeller bursary and returns home to study African theatre. He's commissioned to write a play, A Dance of the Forests, celebrating Nigerian independence. Soyinka is a hugely important literary figure winning the Nobel Prize in 1986. It was during the time he lived in England ('54-'60) that he wrote his first
1960eventCassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali-Haj) wins a gold medal as a light heavyweight boxer at the Olympics in Rome, aged 18 after pounding Polish opponent Zbigniew Pietryskowsky in the final. Both he and his father were named after Cassius M. Clay, an opponent of slavery in the era of Abraham Lincoln. He is so proud of his gold medal that he doesn't take it off for two days.sportMuhammad_Ali
1960eventThe Rome Olympics: Wilma Rudolph (who had polio and couldn't walk properly until aged 12), wins three golds for the USA in sprint events, and Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs the marathon bare-footed and is the first black African to win gold. It is South Africa's last appearance at the Olympics. They were banned until '92 when apartheid
1960musicBerry Gordy changes the name of his fledgling record label from Tamla to Motown. He sets up its first headquarters in Detroit, hanging a huge sign up outside that read Hitsville U.S.A. It was a prophetic sign as the Motown acts went on to clean up on the RnB
1960musicFats Domino was a key influence on British music. In the 1950s he sold more records than any other black star in the US playing a form of New Orleans R&B. He's attributed to being one of the creators of rock n roll - one of the most important music styles of the 20th century. Between 1960 and 1963 he had 9 tracks in the UK top
1960musicRay Charles and Grammys - he won four in 1960. Blind by the age of six, orphaned by his early teens, Charles studied music at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. He was a hugely talented and charismatic performer, creating his own flavour of pop music by working gospel, jazz and blues into R&
1961eventMr Lumumba, Congo's first democratically elected leader (June 1960) is deposed after four months and shot dead in February '61. This inspires a demonstration outside the Belgian Embassy in central London, which ends with clashes with mounted police after fighting erupts.rights
1961eventSouth Africa leave the Commonwealth after refusing to make preparations for majority rule.rights
1961eventA Commonwealth Immigrants Bill is introduced in the House of Commons in order to begin to restrict the flow of settlers into the UK. The ensuing 'panic' meant that figures of immigrants rocketed to over 105, 000 for '60-'61. There were further bills passed during this decade, one which was marred by Powellism - anti-immigration feeling led by the Conservative MP Enoch Powell.rights
1961eventV S Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932 of Indian heritage. He moved to England in 1950, published his first novel in '57 and in '61 wins the Somerset Maugham Award for Miguel Street - " a beguiling book about growing up in the West Indies. The sketches are written lightly, so that tragedy is understated and comedy is overstated, yet the ring of truth always prevails." He wins the Nobel prize for Literature in 2001.literature
1961event1961 wasn't an easy year for Anne Cole Lowe an African-American fashion designer from Alabama, but she does manage to open a shop on Saks Fifth Avenue and is awarded the Couturier of the Year Plaque by New York Fashion Society. (In '68 she was included in the Who's Who of American Women.) These accolades came as a result of making dresses for families in high society including the wedding dress for Jacqueline Bouvier when she married the future President, John F. Kennedy in '
1961eventSport: Albert Johanneson makes his first appearance for Leeds United. The South Africa born left winger scores 68 goals for them in the 1960s. At a time when black players were a novelty in England, he endured racist taunting from opposing players and the crowd. He went on to be the first black player in an FA Cup
1961eventAlthough other black players had appeared in the English league prior to this, such as the legendary Nigerian international Steve Mokone (Coventry) and his fellow countryman, Elkaneh Onyeali (Tranmere), Johanneson was arguably the most influential black player in England during the 1960ssport
1961eventRadio: Mrs. Dale's Diary (Light Programme, now Radio 4) was the first radio soap to include a regular role for a black actor with Jamaican Charles Hyatt as Dr Lionel
1961musicThe Miracles' Shop Around is Motown's first no.1 in the US RnB chart (no.2 in the US pop chart).music
1961musicShirley Bassey has a number one in the UK with Climb Ev'ry Mountain taken from the hugely popular film, the Sound of Music. Shirley Bassey was a major star during the last half of the 20th century. and is still popular for her Bond theme tunes such as the tremendous Diamonds Are Forever (used by Kanye West) and Goldfinger. Born in 1937 in Tiger Bay, Wales, she was the youngest of seven children with a Nigerian sailor father and an English mother. This wasn't an easy start to life, but by the time she was 16 she was breaking away from her factory job to perform in working man's clubs and revues. This led to a recording contract and chart
1961musicBefore they became the Ronettes, sisters Veronica (Ronnie), Estelle, and their cousin Nedra, had won a singing contest at the Apollo as the Darling Sisters. One night they went to the Peppermint Lounge dressed in tight skirts with their hair fashionably back-combed into beehives. They were mistaken by the club manager for the singing group he was expecting, so he led them onstage and they sang Ray Charles' What I Say - bringing down the house! It was the start of something major (see 1963).music
1961musicThe Shirelles: One of the most successful bands in the format of the girl group was the Shirelles. Formed in New Jersey, they were four school friends who with the help of the female label boss Florence Greenberg had a big hit with Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Other tunes of theirs included Soldier Blue and Baby It's
1962eventANC leader Nelson Mandela is jailed for 5 years.rightsNelson_Mandela
1962eventMartin Luther King is jailed for leading a march in Albany, Georgia.rightsMartin_Luther_King,_Jr.
1/10/19621962eventJames Meredith becomes the first black student at the University of Mississippi after opposing a ban by the Governor Ross Barnett. The US government has to send in federal troops to protect Meredith but there is still violence ending with two dead, 200 arrested and nearly 80 soldiers and police injured. His determination to make sure his rights were upheld by the law ushered in a new phase for the civil rights movement. He graduates a year later and in 1968 receives a law degree from Columbia University.rights
1962eventThe Pulitzer Prize winning book, To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee is made into a film. Set in the Deep South of the 1930s it tells the story of a white lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white girl. The film won several Oscars and brought attention to the inherent racial problems and social injustice that existed in the South.literature,film
1962eventNegroes With Guns by Robert F. Williams is published while he's in exile in Cuba with his activist wife, Mabel. Their lack of fear and advocacy of using arms for self-defence was ground-breaking. The book recounted their struggles against the Ku Klux Klan and other racists and was hugely influential. Williams is the first to coin the term 'black power' in its political context - although it was popularised by others such as Willie Ricks, an activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who would call it out to crowds when he addressed them.literature
1962eventJamaica attains full independence.politics
1962eventTrinidad declares independence.politics
1962eventSir Learie Constantine is knighted (becoming a life peer in '69). Born in Trinidad, Learie was one of the original players of the Calypso cricket style that was such a crowd-pleaser. As well as being an accomplished sportsperson, he was an activist for racial equality after moving to Britain. He sued a hotel for refusing to serve him in 1943 and later helped West Indians find work whilst serving in the Labour government. He co-wrote the book 'Colour Bar' with C.L.R. James, on the subject of race relations and was also a popular broadcaster, eventually appointed to the BBC Board of
1962musicRay Charles followed up his chart topping I Can't Stop Loving You with top ten hits in the UK You Don't Know Me and Your Cheating Heart. He maintained a presence in the UK charts throughout the 60s with lesser hits such as his cover of the Beatles' tunes Yesterday and Eleanor
1962musicChubby Checker's version of The Twist reached it's highest UK chart position. But before the novelty of the track wore off a huge dance craze had started. National competitions were held in British dancehalls helped by the follow up Let's Twist
1962musicLittle Richard tours the UK to enthusiastic crowds. Among the groups that supported him were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Little Richard played a crucial part in twisting the strong sound of 50's R&B into the electrifying style of rock & roll. Although he was only a hitmaker for a couple of years in the 50s, his influence on the 'British Invasion' stars of the '60s was
1962musicNat King Cole still had a strong presence in the early 60s with nine songs in the top 40 and Ramblin' Rose reaching no. 5 in '
1963eventOn August 28th, 200,000 march on Washington for Civil Rights. Martin Luther King delivers his 'I have a dream' speech - a personal plea, but one which so eloquently paints a picture of human harmony that it is still relevant today.rightsMartin_Luther_King,_Jr.
1963eventA key supporter of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, President John F. Kennedy, is assassinated later this year, on November 22.politics
1963eventIn June the shooting of US civil rights leader Medgar Evars triggers riots in the United States, but one of the most heartbreaking events occurs in September when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is bombed, killing four black girls.rights
1963eventClaudia Jones, editor of the West Indian Gazette in the UK, knew King and organized a march on the American Embassy at Grosvenor Square to coincide with the US march. It was supported by leading black artists and writers in the UK like George Lamming, Jan Carew and John La Rose as well as Edric and Pearl Connor.rights
1963eventPearl and her actor husband Edric Connor had set up an agency for black performers as early as 1956. Later named the Afro-Asian Agency (in the 70s) it was part of Pearl's campaign to gain recognition for African Caribbean arts. Another key was the Negro Theatre Workshop that they established in 1963. It was one of the UK's first black theatre
1963eventEdric Connor was himself a major actor in films and on stage and the first black actor to perform in Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon, as Gower in Pericles (1958). This year sees Errol John play Othello at Old
1963eventThe UK TV show, Tonight has an episode narrated by George Lamming. It's a poetic and impressionistic view of black working class life in
1963eventIn 1963, when most African American women were loath to be seen in public with unstraightened hair, actor Cicely Tyson sported cornrows or a "TWA" ("teeny, weeny afro") in the popular US television series East Side, West
1963eventCLR James writes Beyond a Boundary, a classic especially for cricket fans. "He traces the fruition of national West Indian consciousness through the development of cricket, where what happened inside the boundary affected life beyond it." (Darcus Howe, The Observer newspaper). It was when he moved to England from Trinidad that James became a writer as well as a leading Marxist theorist after becoming heavily involved in the politics of the far-left. Another notable book was James' The Black Jacobins (1938) which graphically points to the brutality of slavery and in turn, capitalism.literature,sport
1963musicPhil Spector was taken by a demo done by the Ronettes. He then produced their hits Be My Baby - no. 4 in the UK and no. 2 in the US and Baby I Love You. They were the first girl group to have a strong identity with their pictures on their record
1963musicAnother girl group Spector was involved in was the Crystals whose Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me were big hits in the US and the
1963musicChuck Berry has two top ten hits with Let It Rock and Memphis
1963musicLegendary jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers releases his first album, a decade before he turned on to his inimitable (and well-sampled)
1963musicTV - the music show Ready, Steady, Go! goes on the air. During it's time many key black soul artists appear on the
1963musicIn the US Mary Wells is Motown's most consistent hit-maker for Motown with three top ten hits in a
1963musicBob Marley and the Wailers form. After tuition from the singer Joe Higgs, they start recording with Coxsone Dodd. Their first track, Simmer Down, released just before Christmas 1963 is a huge hit in Jamaica - no. 1 for two months on the JBC Radio
1963musicThe Beatles' domination really
1964eventOn June 16th, the then lawyer and ANC activist, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned for life on a charge of treason.rightsNelson_Mandela
1964eventIt's another big year for Martin Luther King. After being jailed briefly in June for Civil Rights activities in Florida he wins the highest international honour, the Nobel Peace Prize in December. On the way to collecting it he preaches a sermon in St Paul's Cathedral in London.rightsMartin_Luther_King,_Jr.
1964eventPresident Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in a bid to continue the reforms initiated by John F. Kennedy. It was a landmark law protecting the black population from job and other forms of discrimination. But states such as California blocked certain elements such as fair housing rules. This a year of more race riots, this time in Harlem and New Jersey. In June Malcolm X founds Organisation for Afro-American Unity.rights
1964eventThe Beatles (whose world domination is in full swing) agree to play a concert in Jacksonville, Florida, on the condition that the audience is guaranteed to be unsegregated.rights,music
1964eventThe West Indian Gazette ceases publication, after the death of its editor, Claudia Jones.Claudia Jones (1915-1964) was a Trinidadian who spent most of her life in New York. She was an active Communist and edited the Negro Affairs section of the paper, the Daily Worker. In 1955 during the McCarthy 'witch-hunts' for Communists she was given asylum in London.It was in London she founded the West Indian Gazette ('58) which formed part of her campaign for equal rights. Within two years, it had a circulation of 15,000. Claudia was also one of the team that launched the Notting Hill carnival in 1959.literature,carnival
1964eventThe Trinidadian Derek Walcott gains widespread recognition as a poet when In a Green Night is published. He creates his own style of literature that's true to West Indian life.He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.literature
1964eventSidney Poitier wins the best actor Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field. In the film he plays a construction worker whom a group of nuns believe was sent to them by God to build their church. Previous to this Hattie McDaniel had won best supporting actress in 1939 for her role in Gone with the Wind and James Baskett had received an Honorary Award in 1948 for voicing Uncle Remus in Disney's Song of the
1964eventCassius Clay takes world heavyweight boxing title from Sonny Liston.sportMuhammad_Ali
1964eventAbebe Bikila became the first person to win the Olympic marathon
1964eventOn BBC1: The Colony, filmed on location in Birmingham was the first TV documentary to give a voice to working class Caribbean settlers. Participants included a railway man from St Kitts, a bus conductor from Jamaica, a family of singers from Trinidad and a nurse from
1964eventZ Cars, a very popular drama series had an episode called A Place of Safety in which an African (Johnny Sekka) confronts racism from the police. Also the TV soap, Compact, becomes the first soap to include a regular role for a black actor - Horace James played magazine photographer Jeff Armandez.On radio; a 17-part series called the Negro in America, a drama by African-American Alice Childress
1964musicThe Ronettes were invited to the UK to tour with the Rolling Stones. The Stones' choice of a black American act to support them was an unexpected decision and a very big deal because this had followed the British invasion of the states and the popularisation of white British acts around the world, not least in the
1964musicAlthough black acts were hardly visible on the charts one notable exception was The Supremes whose Where Did Our Love Go got to no.3 and was followed by Baby Love reaching no.1. Altogether there were 18 top 40 releases in the UK - this speaks for
1964musicDionne Warwick's collaboration with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David bring two significant hits in the 60s - Walk On By (no. 9 in 64) and Do You Know the Way to San Jose (no. 8 in 1968)music
1964musicFour seasons - had no. 2 with Rag Doll - one of nine in UK top
1964musicHowlin Wolf had a minor hit with Smokestack Lightnin but he's important to mention as he was such a big influence on UK bands and audiences. His raw blues and ability to rock the house helped shape bands like the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Cream. In fact in 1965 when the Rolling Stones were reaching the dizzy heights of their fame, they were invited onto a US music show called Shindig. They agreed to appear only if Howlin' Wolf could be their guest. It meant he got seen by a few million viewers and he always spoke highly of the Stones afterwardsmusic
1964musicMillie appears on Juke Box Jury singing her hit My Boy
1964musicMartha and the Vandellas release Dancing in the Street in the
1965eventMartin Luther King is arrested on a Civil Rights protest in Selma, Alabama. Then after protests are banned, Martin Luther King leads 25,000 civil rights protesters in Montgomery, Alabama.rightsMartin_Luther_King,_Jr.
1965eventMalcolm X is shot dead at a party meeting in Harlem on 21st February. Three black Muslims were convicted of the murder. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, based on interviews he'd done with Alex Haley, was published.rights
1965eventThe Watts riots in South Central Los Angeles began on August 11th. Lasting six days, 34 died, over 1000 were injured, 4000 arrested and an estimated $100 million worth of damage was done. The catalyst was a white policeman (Lee Minikus) pulling over a black man (Marquette Frye) who'd been reported as driving erratically. However the inquiry into the riots revealed that poverty - housing problems, bad schools, unemployment were the chief players in the tragedy.rights
1965eventWhite Nationalist party wins Rhodesian elections. Later in the month a state of emergency is declared.politics
1965eventBBC1 TV: The Wednesday Play, Fable, was a controversial drama by John Hopkins in which apartheid is reversed so that white people find themselves oppressed second-class citizens, with black people in control. With Thomas Baptiste, Barbara Assoon, Bari Jonson, Rudolph Walker (Trinidad), Dan Jackson, Carmen Munroe (Guyana), Trevor Rhone (Jamaica), Frank Singuineau and Charles
1965eventNotting Hill Carnival. Originally held in several halls, it was a showcase for Caribbean talent considering the slogan, 'A people's art is the genesis of their freedom'. During the 60s it got closer to the Trinidadian carnival roots with street processions, costumes and Masqueraders. The Jamaican sound systems joined in and the carnival as we know it today took shape."Notting Hill Carnival took off in 1965, but we cannot forget the effect that the murder of Kelso Cochrane had on the whole community of Notting HillĂ–after the race riots in 1958/1959. These events brought a cohesion and understanding amongst the Afro-Caribbeans which was lacking before and eventually brought them all together in the celebration of Carnival.Claudia Jones did much to promote it in the early stages as did Amy Ashwood Garvey, wife of Marcus Garvey." Pearl Connor-Mogotsi.carnival
1965eventCy Grant (who sang a calypso version of the news on the BBC) plays Othello at Phoenix Theatre in
1965eventThe American Ebony magazine celebrates it's 20th anniversary at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and is attended by leading celebrities of the day. John H. Johnson (1918-2005) founded the magazine as well as a publishing empire and the cosmetics firm Fashion Flair. Ebony not only drew attention to black issues, histories and artists but also provided outlets for journalists and photographers who were previously overlooked. He was one of the biggest supporters of Dr. Martin Luther King.literature
1965musicThe Temptations' My Girl hits no.1 in the US. As with Mary Wells' My Guy it was written by Smokey Robinson (with Ronald White for My Girl)music
1965musicThe Supremes appear on the cover of Time magazine in an article about music of the
1965musicTerry Callier records The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier after meeting Prestige label producer Samuel Charters. However the album went unreleased til 1968, and was paid little
1965musicThe real raw sound of the south was epitomised by soul man Wilson Pickett. This was a lot to do with him collaborating with the infamous Muscle Shoals rhythm section in Alabama and working at the Stax studio in Memphis. Hits such as Mustang Sally and Land of 1000 Dances followed, with In The Midnight Hour making it to no.12 in the UK
1966eventIan Smith rejects Harold Wilson's proposals for majority rule in Rhodesia, and so Rhodesia leaves the Commonwealth.politics
1966eventEuston station staff 'colour bar' ends. Although it was an 'unofficial' policy, Asquith Xavier, a train guard from Dominica, was refused a job at Euston Station because of his colour. Managers overturn the ban and he gets the job. Later the British army also drops its colour bar.rights
1966eventThe Caribbean Artists Movement is founded in London. It oversees and protects the literary, academic and performance skills of Caribbean writers and artists. Andrew Salkey, Edward Kamau Brathwaite and John La Rose were the catalysts.literature,theatre,film
1966eventThe Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is published to international acclaim. Born to a white Creole woman from Dominica and a Welsh father, Jean left the Caribbean in 1907 when she was 17. However the book brought into the public consciousness some of the issues surrounding inter-racial relationships and colonialism.literature
1966eventThe Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is created by Huey P Newton with Bobby Seale and David Hilliard. Launched in California after the death of Malcolm X and the Watts riots it captures the spirit of the times by offering an alternative to the dominant non-violent theme of the civil rights movement. The panther was adopted for it's power as an image. The party's style of black leather jackets and black berets was equally strong.rights
1966eventAfrican American model, Donyale Luna appears on the cover of US Vogue. She becomes an important black celebrity, showing that the ideals of beauty were becoming more
1966musicJimi Hendrix arrives in Britain; his musicianship and stage show would soon become the talk of
1966musicPrince Buster. This was actually the year that Rocksteady conquered Jamaica but the king of Ska (Jamaica's first indigenous music) came through with the classics, Hard Man Fe Dead, Rude, Rude, Rudie and Shanty-Town. The following year he even had a track in the UK charts - Al
1966musicOne of the most consistent Tamla Motown acts was the Four Tops who had UK hits from the mid sixties for about 8 years. They'd actually been going for seven years before signing up with the label in 1963. Their biggest hit was 'Reach Out I'll Be There', a number one on both sides of the Atlantic in 1966. Their 'Greatest Hits' album was also a chart topper in 1968. 14 top 40 hits in the 60s in the
1966musicStevie Wonder started young - his first US number one was recorded when he was twelve - and has been a regular on the UK singles and album charts ever since.Uptight (Everything's Alright) - no. 14music
1966musicCortelia Clark was a blind street singer from Nashville who sang his songs and sold shopping bags at the corner of Church and Union. In 1966, Elvis' producer, Felton Jarvis, persuaded RCA Nashville to record Clark on that very corner, complete with street noise. The resulting album won a Grammy as Best Folk
1966musicBritish underground clubs are playing UK releases of American soul (later imports too). These clubs such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester nurture the cultural phenomenon that grows out of mod culture - northern soul. Dave Grodin didn't coin the phrase til1970 but the appreciation of rare black music grew substantially during the
1966musicBlues & Soul magazine launches in London. It's part of the solidifying UK scene that pays tribute to black music and
1967eventBiafra breaks away from Nigeria. Previously the Eastern Region of Nigeria, it's made up of mainly Igbo, or Ibo, people. They had previously lived in the Northern region but were subjected to a massacre by the Hausa and left for the east. After two years of fighting with Nigeria, Biafra becomes the subject for international concern in '69 as millions face starvation.politics
1967eventAnother year of race riots in the US - Boston, Newark and Detroit.rights
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