Leeds’ Black History

Series of articles exploring and highlighting Black history and heritage in Leeds, because we firmly believe #blacklivesmatter. More articles to follow – we also welcome submissions and ideas for future articles, as well as comments and corrections.

Leeds’ Black History Research guide
List of the most useful and interesting books and other resources available at the Local and Family History department for the further study of Leeds’ Black History.

Pablo is Coming!
A brief look at the life and times of Pablo Fanque, Britain’s first Black circus owner, told using Playbills in our collections. Pablo is buried in Leeds – for more on his life, see our later article jointly-written with the help of the Norfolk Heritage Centre.

The American Civil War and the End of American Slavery
Reading guide to classic works of history on this important subject, all of which can be found at the Central Library. This article also includes a brief look at anti-slavery activism in Leeds during the 19th-century.

A Brief History of the African-Caribbean Community in Leeds
Told using books and other resources available at the Central Library, highlighting the contributions of unjustly little-known community activists.

William Boyne and the Voices of History
Opinion piece, exploring the problematic legacy in slavery of a key treasure held by the Central Library: William Boyne’s History of Leeds

People of Leeds #2: Cedric Clarke
Short piece on the life and achievements of Leeds’ first local Councillor of African-Caribbean heritage.

Power & Protest: Rock Against Racism (1977)
Brief history of the pioneering anti-racism movement in Leeds.

The 1981 Uprising
Brilliant history and analysis of the 1981 uprising in Chapeltown, by Miriam White.

Exhibition – Leeds West Indian Carnival
Photo gallery showcasing snippets of an exhibition held at the Central Library in August 2019. Useful as a guide to some further resources available at the Central Library for Black history – the subject of a forthcoming blog post.

Who was David and why should we remember him?
Account of the horrifying events leading to the death of Nigerian David Oluwale in Leeds.

African-Caribbean Family History 
Short guide to researching your African and Caribbean heritage. The guide also includes a brief list of further reading and resources on Black history. An article is also available, laying out the steps to find the relevant databases on the family history websites mentioned in the guide.

Archive of historical Leeds images and photos, including many of interest to those wanting to know more about Black history and heritage in our area. Please note that we are currently working on improving our indexing of these images, to make them more visible; for best results at present, search using geographical terms like ‘Chapeltown Road,’ or for specific events such as ‘West Indian Carnival’. All images below are (c) Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net.