Oldest Black Communities in England

The Oldest Black Community in England

Written by Naledi Ushe

Here are five places to experience Black culture in the U.K.

Black culture in England, like the U.S., is a culmination of Caribbeans and Africans across the diaspora mixing together to create music, style, and food.

The culture has become so mainstream you’re most likely using slang like “ting,” “proper” and “bruv” — just ask Drake and his attempt at Grime music.

While London is typically the go-to destination for out-of-towners in England, consider these other destinations to gain a more authentic and off-the-beaten-track adventure.

Below is Girl Around The Globe’s guide to culture hubs you should definitely see on your next trip to Britain.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Brixton

Brixton is perhaps the most well-known Black culture hub in south London. The city is blooming with Afro-Caribbeans, their influence, food, and wonderful artists.

The city became the hub that it is during the “Windrush Era” from the late 1940s to the early 1970s when the MV Empire Windrush ship brought in Caribbeans from several countries due to the U.K.’s shortage in laborers after World War II, per the BBC.

Today, you can grab Caribbean food at the Brixton market or Pop Brixton, and visit the Black Cultural Archives to learn more about the history. Catch a concert at the O2 Academy Brixton, head to nightclubs and dance to Afro-Caribbean beats, or tour the city to see all of the murals created by locals.

Liverpool

Liverpool is home to The Beetles, but it’s also the oldest Black community in England -according to the Museum of Liverpool -and was once the continent’s central hub in the European transatlantic slave trade dating back to the mid-18th century.

You can learn more about the Black history of the city at the National Museums Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum, the Museum of Liverpool, and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Depending on the time of year you’re visiting Liverpool, you can go to Africa Oye, “the U.K.’s largest free celebration of African music and culture”, dance to Caribbean music at the Positive Vibration Festival, or enjoy Black culture in the form of dance, visual arts, music, movies, poetry and more at Blackfest.

For a comprehensive list of Black businesses such as food and drinks, arts and crafts, fashion, and more click here.

 
Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

Bristol

The aforementioned “Windrush Generation’’ resulted in a large West African and Caribbean population moving to affordable housing units in Bristol’s St. Pauls neighborhood, joining the existing European and Asian communities in the surrounding neighborhoods. As a way to improve race relations of the diverse city, St. Pauls Carnival was created in 1968 and takes place on the first Saturday of July.

However, riots broke out in St. Pauls in 1980 due to racist policies put in place by a completely white British parliament. The riots lasted several days and were instrumental in bringing attention to racism in the U.K. and with its historical policy changes. Now, you can celebrate the changemakers who started St. Pauls Carnival and fought for Black equality by checking out The Seven Saints of St Paul’s murals created by Michelle Curtis.

In more recent years, a huge influx of Somali people has migrated to Bristol, making Somali now the third most commonly spoken language in the city, per Bristol Museums. Enjoy great Somali food at Arawelo Eats and support Somali Kitchen in their initiative to create healthy and accessible food.

Notting Hill

This city is home to England’s biggest Caribbean celebration –Notting Hill Carnival, which celebrates the culture in music, food, wardrobe, dance, arts, and crafts. Carnival’s parade route goes from Potternewton Park and back. It was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a 2021 date has been set for Aug. 29 and 30.

Like Brixton, the city became a Caribbean-hub because of people brought to England by the Empire Windrush.

Other noteworthy experiences of Black culture in Notting Hill include visiting the Portobello Market, specifically by Golborne Road, for North African and Caribbean street food during the week, popping in nearby Black-owned streetwear store Trapstar London, getting your rum and Caribbean food fix at Trailer Happiness, and taking an educational walk or cruise with Black History Walk Tours.

Photo by Pinar Mavi on Unsplash

Leeds

This city is known for the Leeds West Indian Carnival which began in 1967 thanks to a man named Arthur France, from the Caribbean Island of Nevis. The event takes place on the last Monday in August every year, although it went virtual in 2020. The Carnival is “the perfect blend of jaw-dropping costumes, infectious tropical rhythms, mouth-watering food, Caribbean Culture, and entertainment for everyone,” according to its website.

Outside of Carnival, you can get great Caribbean eats at Jerk ExpressRyan’s Kitchen, and The Flava Hut; drinks at Rum & Reason; and an assortment of crafts and jewelry at Flavour Like Fancy. To discover more, check out this list of Black-owned businesses in Leeds.

www.leedscarnival.co.uk/

Did we leave any out? Comment below and tell us your favorite places to explore.

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