Black History: Fanny Eaton

Line drawing of Fanny Eaton - she looks off to the left hand side of the page. Her hair is a wavy afro, she weats earrings and a jewelled necklace, and a tunic. The text in the image is in the body of the post.

Fanny Eaton was a working class Victorian Londoner and a Pre-Raphaelite painters’ muse. The daughter of an ex-slave, Eaton moved with her mother from Jamaica to London in her 20s, in the 1840s. One of the leaders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, D.G. Rosetti, priased her for her beauty, and Eaton is a central figure in various paintings, such as The Mother of Moses, and The Mother of Sisera Looking Out at a Window.

Widowed in her 40s, Eaton raised her 10 kids mostly by herself, and worked as a model and ‘charwoman’, then servant and cook until she died aged 89.


Black History – ‘Beachy Head Lady’

Line drawing of 'Beachy Head Lady' - a forensic reconstruction of the face of remains from 200-250AD - she has long curly hair, is looking forward with her mouth slightly open.

‘Beachy Head Lady’ was a woman of Sub-Saharan African descent who lived in what is now Beachy Head, East Sussex, in 200-250 AD. Sub-Saharan Africa was not part of the Roman Empire. She may have been born in Africa and then travelled or was brough to the UK at a young age, or she may have been born in England: archaeologists are sure that she grew up in south-east England.

She was about 20 or 21 when she died, her body shoed no signs of wounds or disease, and she had healthy teeth and bones. It is very difficult to draw many conclusions from this other than the certainty that there were black people in Roman Britain, growing up in what is now Beachy Head.

The image above is based on a forensic facial reconstruction.

Black History – Kuchenga

Line drawing of Kuchenga - she has braids, has her eyes closed as she is laughing, she is wearing a shirt and triangular earrings. The text in the image is included in the body of the post.

Kuchenga is a trans woman, a prison abolitionist, a Black Lives Matter activist and a writer. She also organises with Bent Bars, a letter writing project supporting LGBTQ prisoners in Britain.

Kuchenga was recently included amongst many other successful trans women in To My Trans Sisters, a collection of letters by trans women politicians, scientists, models, athletes, authors and activists from around the world.


Black History Month: Ngozi Fulani

Ngozi Fulani drawingNgozi Fulani is the founder member of Sistah Space, a community-based initiative in Hackney, London, that supports African heritage women and girls who are victims/survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Fulani is an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor and an Independent Sexual Violence Advisort, and the senior member of staff at Sistah Space, which is run by volunteers.

There is a link to donate in the text below if you want to support Sistah Space‘s lifesaving work.


Black History Month – Una Marson

Line drawing of Una Marson. She is sat at a desk writing, her eyes to the viewer. She is wearing a blazer, shirt and neckscarf, and her hair is in a 1950s style. The text in the image is in the body of the post.

Una Marson was a poet, playwright, editor, the first black woman programme maker at the BBC, and an activist.

Marson’s work was anti-colonial, antiracist, working class, feminist and Pan-Africanist. Writing in both English and Jamaican patois, her work addressed the lived realities of working class Jamaicans and the wider Caribbean diaspora community in the UK. She wrote about being a colonial subject who comes to the ‘Motherland’ only to find it alienating and racist. She broke down racist, Eurocentric beauty standards and the negative impacts they have.

Marson took over a BBC radio show, which had been a way for soldiers to send messages to their families, and turned it into Caribbean Voices, a key international platform for Caribbean literature.

Black History Month: Marcia Rigg

Line drawing of Marcia Rigg: she has dreadlocks and is wearing glasses and hoop earrings. She is speaking into a microphone. The text in the image is included in the body of this post.

CN: mental health crisis, racist police violence, death, state collusion

Marcia Rigg was a legal PA in the City for 20 years, but gave up her career to fight for justice when her brother Sean died at the hands of the police in 2008.

Multiple failings in mental health services meant police (having failed to respond to calls from the hostel where he was staying) chased Sean – who was having a mental health crisis – down in the street. They held him in a prone position for 8 minutes after handcuffing him. They placed him face down in the police van. When he got to Brixton police station, he was no longer fully conscious, but it was over half an hour before a doctor was called. Sean was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.

We only know about this horrific series of events because of the tireless campaigning of Marcia. The IPCC investigation had concluded that the police had acted “reasonably and proportionately.” The obvious racist injustice of this conclusion was exposed by the coroner’s report which stated that the police used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” and their actions contributed to his death. An external review of the IPCC report was similarly damning. Rigg and her family’s campaigning also led to the 2012 Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing.

Rigg continues her fight against police violence today.

Black History Month: Jocelyn Barrow

Line drawing of Jocelyn Barrow - she is looking forward and smiling with her mouth open. She is wearing a hat with a veil that covers her hair and forehead, and earrings. The text in the image is included in the body of the post.

Jocelyn Barrow was a founding member and General Secretary of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, the organisation responsible for driving the Race Relations legislation of 1968.

As a teacher trainer in the 1960s, Barrow pioneered the introduction of multicultural education into the British schools system.

Barrow was also the first black woman Governor of the BBC, and the founder and Deputy Chair of the Broadcasting Standards Council, which set standards and investigated complaints into TV, press and radio, as well as leading on studies into the effects in society of what people see on TV. The BSC later became Ofcom.