100 Great Black Britons 2020 developed with Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osbourne, copyright Pen Mendonça www.penmendonca.com 2020.
Back in 2002, the BBC ran a campaign called 100 Great Britons, asking the public to tell them who should be on the list. Nearly all of the people who were nominated were white, there were no Black women on the shortlist. Winston Churchill got the most votes and was declared the greatest Briton of all time. Soon afterwards, Dr Patrick Vernon OBE and Dr Angelina Osbourne launched a new campaign called 100 Great Black Britons , in order to help the public find out more about the incredible contributions people of colour have made throughout British history. It was very successful and in 2004 British-Jamaican nurse and business woman Mary Seacole (1805-188) was voted number one.
Last year, Patrick and Angelina relaunched 100 Great Black Britons in response to ever growing interest in both celebrating and teaching the achievements of Black British leaders, including women, LGBTQI and disabled people, and those from different regions across Britain. The campaign includes a Schools and Young People’s competition adapted for Covid-19 lockdown. You can find out more here.
Thousands of extraordinary people were nominated for 100 Great Black Britons 2020. Just 100 of them were selected by a shortlisting group for a new book which has been published this Black History Month. The poster I drew for the campaign is above, you can win a free book by guessing some of the people I have drawn here. Because Black British history is so important, Yvonne Davis, a retired headteacher, is trying to get the book and poster in to every secondary school in the country, so that young people and educators can learn more about Black British history. You can support the campaign here.