Black People in The West Midlands Before 1807

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Since the Second World War when citizens of the Commonwealth, first from the Caribbean, then from Asia came to live and work in Britain at the invitation of the government, historians have taken a keen interest in the experiences of ‘visible immigrants’ to this country and sought to explore the roots of such immigration. They stretch back further than you might imagine.

As Peter Fryer provocatively declared in his comprehensive survey of Black history in Britain, published as it was in the midst of rising racial tensions in Britain during the 1980s, ‘there were Africans in Britain before the English came here’. They arrived during the Roman occupation – a period which recent research has shown created a culturally diverse, cosmopolitan Britain.

There is more definitive historical evidence of a constant Black presence - understood in the literature to be those people designated as non-white – in Britain since the early Tudor period. However, research is currently being undertaken which provides evidence of a Black presence in Britain in medieval times; one example being Peter the Saracen, a crossbow maker in the employ of King John.

KEYWORDS: Black History, Migration, Black Country, Birmingham, Medieval, Tudor, Georgian

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