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But Do Statues Really Matter?

Oct. 5, 2017

100 Great Black Britons campaign attests to the power of the civic statue.

 100 Great Black Britons was launched in 2003 to wide acclaim to emphasise the importance of role models for young black Britons. Jamaican nurse and entrepreneur Mary Seacole was voted number one and her statue now stands outside St Thomas Hospital in London, just over the river from the Houses of Parliament.

         The original Black Britons project was in response to the BBC’s 100 Britons campaign in 2002, which saw the public voting for Winston Churchill as the greatest Brit of all time. Not one person of African heritage was included; in fact, Freddie Mercury was the only person of colour. 

Patrick Vernon, founder of 100 Great Black Britons  says "I hope that through raising awareness we can change the conversation about the contributions of black people to British society and history, and protect their legacy. When in 2013 Michael Gove attempted to exclude Mary Seacole from the history curriculum we were able to galvanise a campaign of resistance because we had raised her profile as an important figure." 

"As Black History Month celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it’s the ideal time to undertake the enjoyable task of amassing a new list. Against the backdrop of Brexit, the rise of rise-wing politics, and the continuing inequality faced by black communities in the UK, I hope the campaign will inspire, and be a further marker that we belong here and our historical and current contributions are making a difference, despite not always been valued and respected."

Nominations start 1st of October 2017. Closing date for nominations 31st of March 2018. Voting begins 22 June on Windrush Day, with results announced 1st of October 2018. 

Patrick Vernon OBE is a leading expert on African and Caribbean genealogy in the UK. Founder of Every Generation Media and 100 Great Black Britons