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BBC's ambitious new series tells black history of Britain

TELLING OUR STORY: Historian David Olusoga

A NEW television series from the BBC will explore the black history of black Britain.

Written and presented by acclaimed historian and broadcaster David Olusoga, BBC Two's A  Black History Of Britain  is a fresh approach to history, and aims to demonstrate how black history has shaped our world.

Olusoga's re-telling of our history is a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Reaching as far back as Roman Britain, Olusoga reveals that black British history is an epic, sweeping story.

The BBC is working with the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) to encourage further research to uncover, preserve and celebrate the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain. The BBC's Black History of Britain team is also working with a range of heritage organisations with a view to helping community groups to uncover more chapters in black British history across the UK.

Olusoga said: “This series will unveil a new type of black British history, because to me black history is everyone’s history. It's the long, often tragic and always surprising story of Britain’s relationship with Africa and her peoples. It’s a history that takes place here in Britain but also in Africa and across the Caribbean and North America, and most of it is little known."

He added: "But it's also the story of those periods in our past when the rights, status and humanity of black people were among the big issues of the day, issues that helped shape the whole country and the empire. I'm really excited about presenting a black history that is a major part of the story of all us.”


BLACK HISTORY: In the four films, over 20 specially designed  BBC Black History  plaques will be unveiled

With an exploration of the medieval imagination, the Domesday book, as well as Shakespeare’s Othello and his eulogy to black female beauty, Olusoga will find out how the lives of black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.

Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, David will skilfully build a dazzlingly different national narrative filmed in the UK, Africa, the Caribbean and the USA.

The series will confront taboo subjects that are rarely explored - revealing how the Stuart kings were among Britain’s first big slave traders, and confronting the fact that many African kingdoms grew rich by trading in slaves.

Paul Reid, director of Black Cultural Archives, said: “Black Cultural Archives are thrilled to partner with the BBC on A Black History of Britain. Our mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain.

"This exciting series will uncover the less-known historical narratives, providing an insight into the Black presence in Britain and documenting the richness of British history. As one of the leading archives specialising in black British history and culture, we know we have an important role to play and significant contributions to make. Through academic research, digging deep into the archives and unearthing these histories together, we will piece together a fascinating story of Britain.”

In the four films, over 20 specially designed  BBC Black History plaques will be unveiled at locations across Britain, former colonies and the Commonwealth. The plaques will record and celebrate people and events that are pivotal to this new history, providing enduring symbols of the series.

After transmission, viewers will be invited to research and nominate further people and events for addition to a Black History Trail. More plaques will be unveiled, forming a unique heritage trail and a lasting legacy for the series. The broadcast programmes and plaques will be supported by equally ambitious digital content, including an interactive map of the Black History Trail.

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