Professor David Olusoga, OBE, is well known as a historian, broadcaster and presenter, writer, and champion of diversity. His book for adults Black and British: a short, essential history was so well-received that he has written this excellent version for children, remembering that, in his own schooldays, black people did not feature at all in British history. He sets the record straight by telling his readers about the Roman African soldiers who patrolled Hadrian’s Wall, and the African Emperor Septimus Severus, then the black trumpeter, John Blanke, who is shown on a painting as a member of an elite group of musicians playing at the court of Henry VIII. He goes on to point out the black children who appear in Georgian portraits as servants, or adopted children e.g. Dido Belle; includes in the agitation against slavery those who wrote or spoke about their own experiences and helped to achieve its abolition, and brings the story up to date with the black soldiers who fought in the world wars, the Windrush generation, and the many significant black people who are role models today, e.g Dame Malorie Blackman and Sir Lewis Hamilton. These are only some of the many examples he gives of the contribution that black people have made to our lives and our history.
This book is, as you might expect, very well written and fascinating to read, and it is lavishly illustrated on good quality paper, including some photographs. The two illustrators and the designers are all black: they are pictured on the final page. David Olusoga wishes that he had had something like this book when he was at school, and your reviewer agrees that every school should have copies!