Photograph of Amy Barbour-James
A bigger picture
These objects represent just six of the many black figures who in different periods and different ways have played a role in the history of England or in defining the nature of Englishness.
Statue of Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus was the first Roman Emperor born in Africa. He ruled between AD 193 and 211. Although his family was of Phoenician rather than black African descent, ancient literary sources refer to the dark colour of his skin and relate that he kept his African accent into old age. He was an accomplished general who, having defeated his internal enemies in a series of civil wars, went on to victories at the furthest frontiers of the Empire, from Mesopotamia to Britain, where he died, at York (Eboracum) in AD 211
See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/marble-statue-of-the-emperor-septimius-severus/dAHyalZhZhahiA
Viv Anderson’s England shirt
© Courtesy of the People’s History Museum
Arthur Wharton (1865 – 1930), a multi-talented sportsman, is considered as the first black professional footballer in the world. Jack Leslie (1901 – 1988), one of the few black footballers in England, was called up for the England team in the mid-1920s, only to have his selection withdrawn when it was realised that he was black. It was fifty years until Viv Anderson (born 1956) became the first black player to represent England in a full international in 1978.
See more: http://www.phm.org.uk/our-collection/viv-andersons-football-shirt/