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Hats off to some of our humble heroes and sheroes

IN BRITAIN and across the world, there have been an army of black heroes and sheroes who have quietly achieved history, inspired thousands of others or made a huge difference in the lives of their communities and respective countries. Below The Voice highlights some of our lesser-known pioneers.

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Mansa Musa I of Mali
This 14th Century African king, voted the richest person in the world’s history on October 17, challenges perception of Africa as being uncivilised and undeveloped before colonialism. He had a fortune of US$400 billion (nearly £248 billion), according to the Celebrity Net Worth website.

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Mary Seacole
This Jamaican nurse funded her way to the Crimean War in Europe and cared for wounded soldiers with herbal and other remedies, despite facing rejection, sexism and racism.

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Ignatius Sancho
The first African prose writer whose work was published in England. His letters appeared in 1782, helping to correct the perception that black people were not as intelligent as whites.

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Connie Mark
A community activist and Caribbean champion, Mark was known for helping ensure recognition of Mary Seacole’s work and speaking out against racism and prejudice. The founder of the Mary Seacole Memorial Association learned firsthand how racism could blight opportunities for blacks while serving in the British Army during the Second World War. She served as a medical secretary and rose to the rank of corporal but was paid less than whites at the same rank.

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Paul Stephenson
Then a social worker in 1964, Stephenson, an anti-racism campaigner, led a protest against the Bristol Omnibus Company’s racist policy of not hiring black drivers. The bus company was forced to change its policy.

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Amy Ashwood Garvey
Marcus Garvey’s first wife, she was a key player in the Garveyite movement. A keen Pan-Africanist and feminist, she worked hard to free black people from colonial oppression.

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Lord David Pitt
The longest serving black parliamentarian, the late Lord Pitt spent his life trying to improve conditions for Britain’s underrepresented black community.

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Dame Karlene Davis
Britain’s first black female trade union leader, the former general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives has advocated for good quality maternity care for women in her 40-year career.

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Wally Brown
A mediator who helped broker peace between the authorities and residents in the Toxteth community following riots in Liverpool, he has also campaigned to get children quality education and was honoured with Liverpool’s Freedom of the City in August.

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Claudia Jones
Jones created Britain’s first indoor Caribbean carnival in 1959 to raise money for the victims of the 1958 race riots in Notting Hill. Known as a political activist and community leader, Jones also created Britain’s first black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette newspaper.

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Oliver Tambo
One half of the freedom fighting duo alongside Nelson Mandela, Tambo helped galvanize help to free South Africa from its racist white majority rule system. He spent years in exile in Muswell Hill, north London, where he kept the anti-apartheid movement going at what became the unofficial London headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC).

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Mary Prince
A former slave, Prince ensured her freedom and used that freedom to campaign against slavery. An abolitionist, she was the first black woman to write an autobiography that helped highlight the cruelty of slavery and also the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament.

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Len Garrison
A historian, poet and founder of the Black Cultural Archives, Garrison spent his life charting and recording black Britain’s history. He also developed materials and helped ensure Britain’s schools taught black history, boosting understanding about our culture.

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