Slavery shouldn’t distort the story of black people in Britain

Repeating Islands


Black History Month should address the fact that many assume Africans in 16th- and 17th-century England were slaves, as Miranda Kaufmann writes in this article for London’s Guardian.

When I tell people I study Africans in Renaissance Britain, they often reply: “Oh, you mean slaves?” Despite the fact that Black History Month – currently being celebrated – is now in its 25th year, and that it’s more than 60 years since the Windrush brought the first postwar Caribbean migrants, it’s clear that many wrong assumptions about the black presence in Britain are still made.

It seems the emphasis on the horrors of slavery, including the commemoration of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act’s bicentenary in 2007, can leave many, especially the young, with a very bleak image of black history. The assumption that Africans in 16th- and 17th-century England must have been slaves is not only wrong…

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Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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