Black History Month Edition 4

From the African Romans who guarded Hadrian's Wall in the 3rd century AD to the black trumpeter of the Tudor courts - uncover a history that is as surprising as it is revealing!

Black History Month  Edition 4

Proud To Be

Our Proud To Be colleague this week is Peter Johnson, Business Intelligence Developer.

In my role, we use what we know in order to help us inform judgements about what is going to happen in the future. We do this in an honest and dispassionate way. Through this approach, we can try to influence positive outcomes for the future. In my mind, this is the essence of Black History Month.
Black History Month gives us all an opportunity to celebrate Black history, culture and achievements, and use this as a catalyst to build a more inclusive society.

At the Co-op we are using this same rigour when it comes to inclusivity,  we are looking at what we’ve done well, and using this to shape a more inclusive Society; one that celebrates success.

My dad trained as a tailor in Jamaica, and he was good!! He had an almost innate ability to look at a garment and replicate it, almost from memory. When he came to England, as a young man full of hope and ambition, he couldn’t get a job as a tailor. That was the society back then.

He took a job as labourer and worked hard to provide for his family, and he did it! We never went hungry or cold, and we thrived.

This is part of my family history, and this is part of my family’s success. It’s something that I celebrate not only during Black History Month, but every day when I look at my kids and their achievements. This is my Black History.

I’m Proud To Be part of trying to make our world a little brighter for little ones like my Granddaughter, CeCe.

Peter Johnson's granddaughter, CeCe 

Black History Timeline

Windrush Day
A day to celebrate how the Windrush Generation helped to create the Black British society we know today.

22 June 2021 marked the fourth national Windrush Day and 73 years since the SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 carrying the first Caribbean migrants to the UK to help re-build Britain after the Second World War
Read more HERE

People of note

Andrew Watson - first black British international footballer

Born in Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana) on 18 May 1857, Andrew was the first black British international footballer. Andrew was the son of Scottish sugar plantation manager and former slave owner Peter Miller and local girl Rose Watson.

The fact that Andrew was given his mother’s name implies his parents were not married. Nevertheless, before his death in 1869 Peter Miller used his wealth to send Andrew and who can only be assumed to be his two other children to England.

Before Andrew made his international debut for Scotland in a 6-1 victory over England on 12 March 1881 at the Kennington Oval, he had also demonstrated as much talent in the classroom at King’s College School as he had on the football pitch.

Andrew left Wimbledon in 1875 to study natural philosophy, mathematics, civil engineering and mechanics at Glasgow University, but would return to London later in his life.

Andrew left Glasgow University after just one year because while in Scotland he came to national prominence as a talented footballer. He joined Queen’s Park – the country’s premier side – from Parkgrove and won his first medal in the 1880 Glasgow Charity Cup final. Read more HERE

Diane Abbott - first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament

Dianne Abbott

In 1987 Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament. She has since built a distinguished career as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator.

Diane Abbott was born to Jamaican immigrants in London in 1953. Her father was a welder and her mother a nurse. She attended Harrow County Grammar School for Girls, and then Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read history.

Abbott’s career in politics began in 1982 when she was elected to Westminster City Council serving until 1986. In 1987 she was elected to the House of Commons, replacing the deselected serving Labour MP Ernest Roberts as MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington. Along with Keith Vaz, Bernie Grant and Paul Boateng she became part of the first black and Asian intake in Parliament for almost 100 years.

Abbott has a record of differing from some party policies, voting against the Iraq war, opposing ID cards and campaigning against the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons. She has been seen as a ‘maverick, a free-thinker, willing to rebel against the party machine.’  Read more HERE


Memorable Quotes

“Dominance, even the threat of it is a form of dehumanisation, it’s the ugliest form of power” -Michelle Obama
“If you can’t fly – run
If you can’t  run – walk
If you can’t walk – crawl
But by all means – keep moving!” – Dr Martin Luther King Jr
“You may not control all the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them” – Maya Angelou
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress” – Barack Obama
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey
“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” Bob Marley
"Many discouraging hours will arise before the rainbow of accomplished goals will appear on the horizon."- Emperor Haile Selassie.


Exhibition Recommendation - Face: An Exhibition in honour of Francis Barber.  

Portrait possibly of Francis Barber, attributed either to James Northcote or Sir Joshua Reynolds

Where? The Hub, St Mary’s, Market Square, Lichfield, WS13 6LG
When? 5th-30th October 2021
See promotional video HERE

Film recommendation12 Years A Slave

Steve McQueen, Director, 12 Years A Slave

12 Years a Slave is a 2013, multi-award winning, historical drama directed and produced by Steve McQueen.  The film is based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom.

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.  More HERE

TV Recommendations  - Black and British

David Olusoga

Historian David Olusoga explores the enduring relationship between Britain and people whose origins lie in Africa. From the African Romans who guarded Hadrian's Wall in the 3rd century AD to the black trumpeter of the Tudor courts, David uncovers a history that is as surprising as it is revealing.
Watch again HERE


Book recommendation  -Home Coming, by Colin Grant

Colin Grant - Home Coming

Homecoming draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings and memoirs by the women and men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s and the early 1960s.
Available from all good book sellers including HERE

Podcast recommendations – Good Ancestor

Layla F.Saad

An interview series with change-makers and culture-shapers exploring what it means to be a good ancestor. Hosted by globally respected speaker, anti-racism educator, Layla F.Saad
Available HERE

Recipe of the week:

Two delicious side dishes  - Fried plantain and Callaloo


Unlike bananas, plantains can’t be eaten when they’re raw. They contain starch, and as they cook, the sugars caramelise so they develop a deliciously sweet flavour.

Plantain can be roasted or boiled, but it's most commonly eaten fried. Simply peel the plantain, slice diagonally (see picture) and shallow fry each side until golden brown.


Callaloo is a leafy green with a strong flavour. It’s a little like spinach, only it holds its shape much better when cooked. Makes an excellent alternative to cabbage or spring greens and is packed with nutrients

· 1 Bundle Callaloo
· 1 Medium Onion
· 1 Small Tomato
· 4 Pimento Berries
· 2 Teaspoon Butter
· 3 Slices of Scotch Bonnet Pepper
· 1 teaspoon Salt

Source: Paul Reece

How to prepare
Step 1
Wash and cut up Callaloo and place it in a large frying pan with a lid.

Step 2
Slice onions and pepper and add to the pan.

Step 3
Chop tomatoes and place them in the pan.

Step 4
Salt and pepper to taste and add butter on top.

Step 5
Add pimento berries and cover pan. Place heat on medium for 15 mins. Stir occasionally to mix all the seasoning and callaloo together.

Step 6
Turn Heat off and serve hot with any meal of your choosing

Source: Paul Reece

How you can engage

Useful terms: BAME and BME
BAME (Black and Asian Minority Ethnic) or BME (Black Minority Ethnic) should not be used as a replacement for directly addressing a specific racial or ethnic group or individual when that is who we are speaking about. They are not adjectives and do not describe an individual identity (for example, avoid saying “He’s a BAME solicitor”, where possible be specific and say “He’s a Black solicitor” or “She’s an Asian solicitor”. More HERE

How CEC is supporting?

CEC has established an Equality and Inclusion working group to support its aim to bring about equality, diversity and equity across the workplace.  The group is keen to hear from you – any questions, observations or suggestions?  

Email the group at

Find more about Black History Month HERE