“We were the biggest empire the world had ever seen. The idea that you can have a domestic history apart from it doesn’t make sense. Take the industrial revolution: the stories about spinning jennys and water frames are all part of our heritage. But where does the cotton being spun in those machines come from? At school, we went to mills and factories and nobody at any point in my education pointed out that the cotton processed in those mills was made by enslaved black Americans. When we talk about the history of the industrial revolution, the missing people in that revolution are the 1.8 million enslaved people who made that cotton. It was our biggest export and almost all of it came from the American deep south.”
In support of Black History Month, our Non-Fiction Book of the Month throughout October will be David Olusoga's award-winning Black and British: A Forgotten History.
Black and British: A Forgotten History
From Pan Macmillan:
In Black and British, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga offers readers a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare's Othello.
It reveals that behind the South Sea Bubble was Britain's global slave-trading empire and that much of the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery. It shows that Black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of the First World War. Black British history can be read in stately homes, street names, statues and memorials across Britain and is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation.
Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries. Black and British is a vital re-examination of a shared history, published to accompany the landmark BBC Two series.