100 Great Black Britons features dozens of creatives from Steve McQueen and Lubaina Himid to Edward Enninful

The book by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne renews the original project from 2003, aiming to honour the achievements of Black British individuals across history.

1 October 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read

A book charting the achievements of 100 Black British individuals features dozens of creative names who’ve made a significant impact on culture, from director Steve McQueen to artist Lubaina Himid. 100 Great Black Britons is compiled by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne, who originally started the project in 2003 as a response to frustrations at the almost complete exclusion of the Black British community from mainstream notions of Britishness in education and popular media.

The new book, launched in time for Black History Month, comes in the wake of Brexit, the Windrush Scandal and the Black Lives Matter movement resurgence, and updates the list to reflect current times, adding people who’ve made remarkable achievements in the past 17 years to sit alongside key historical figures.

The final 100 were selected from over 1000 nominations, and span science, politics, acting, activism, music, business, journalism and more, with household names including Stormzy, Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Campbell.

The creative influence is abundant, with dozens of artists, directors, publishers, writers and musicians featuring on the list. These include architects David Adjaye and Elsie Owusu, filmmaker John Akomfrah, artists Yinka Shonibare and Sonia Boyce, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, and authors Bernardine Evaristo and Malorie Blackman.

Also of note among the names are filmmaker Amma Asante, photographer Vanley Burke, record producer Lloyd Coxsone, radical book publishers Eric and Jessica Huntley, artistic director of the Young Vic Kwame Kwei-Armah, filmmaker Horace Ové and director Menelik Shabazz.

Each entry explores in depth the individual’s contribution to British history, “a contribution that too often has been either overlooked or dismissed,” say the authors in a statement.

In a statement at the launch of the book, Osborne – a researcher and heritage consultant – said the book included “so many people you may know or may not know,” but says it will “educate you about some really great Black people, African and Caribbean people, throughout British history,” and hopes the book will be taken up by schools and universities. Vernon – who was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his work tackling health inequalities for ethnic minority communities in Britain – added that all 1000 nominations will be listed in the book as well.

100 Great Black Britons by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne is out now, published by Little, Brown Book Group.


Pen Mendonça: 100 Great Black Britons (Copyright © Pen Mendonça)

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100 Great Black Britons cover (Copyright © Little, Brown Book Group)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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