Black History in Leeds

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.

Windrush Day 2020
Short article exploring the arrival of the Empire Windrush at the port of Tilbury on June 22, 1948.

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.

People of Leeds #13: Gertrude Paul
Series of newspaper articles and other resources looking at the pioneering life of Leeds schoolteacher, Gertrude Paul. 

People of Leeds #14: Norma Hutchinson
Exploring the life of Norma Hutchinson, Trade Unionist and local Councillor. 

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. A second article on the same subject explores relevant collections and materials held at the Central Library. 

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

The Black Freedom Struggle in Nineteenth-Century Leeds
In-depth article looking at the the visit of Black activist William Craft to Leeds in 1856. 

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. 

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, try the keyword search Black history; use geographical terms like Chapeltown Road; or search for specific events such as West Indian Carnival. All images below are (c) Leeds Libraries,

Black History Month 2020
Series of articles primarily consisting of links to Library and external resources for the study of Leeds’ Black History. Replicates some content referenced above.

Week #1: Research
Week #2: Historical events
Week #3: Social Justice & Activism
Week #4: The Windrush Generation
Week #5: People of Leeds

Before Windrush, 1708 – 1948
Series of articles by Danny Friar, based on original research and exploring the lives of Black people in Leeds before the arrival of the Windrush generation.

Part I: Stuart and Georgian periods
Part II: Victorian period
Part III: Edwardian period, World War I and the interwar period
Part IV: World War II and 1945 – 1948