Black Family History

History of the Diaspora

The history of the black family and their communities in the UK has a long history dating back to Roman times and has been reported on at various times ever since. During more recent times, the number of black families in the UK has grown as a result of immigration during the 1950s and 1960s when there was an influx of a large number of African-Caribbean people to the UK, lured by the government’s promise of employment in post-war Britain.

As a result many black families were split from family members in their homelands and were left trying to maintain relationships across Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Often individuals left their parents and siblings behind whilst even more heartbreakingly children were left behind in the care of family members and close friends.

The impact of these fractures can still be felt in the black community with adults feeling the loss many decades later from the rupture of loving relationships and the grief of missing loved ones so far away. It would be too simplistic to suggest that the number of fragmented black families is as a result of this but the startling comparative statistics between the black, Asian and white communities reflect that this history is a key indicator of what has happened and why we are where we are today.


Indeed the history of disruption can be traced further back to slavery where indigenous African families were brutally torn apart, sold into slavery and shipped abroad without any regard for family ties.  This affected not only those family members sold as slaves, but also those left behind to mourn these brutal separations.  The long term consequences for many black people in the diaspora that those direct ancestral roots have been disrupted, often irretrievably, as a result of the fact that slaves not allowed to keep their own family names and were forced to take on slave owners names.

Once enslaved, to ensure a steady supply of slaves for the future, black people were encouraged to produce children which could be taken from them to be sold to other slave owners. As a result, the idea that black people were entitled to the sanctity of their family units was superseded by the notion that black people did not develop strong family ties and were highly sexed and so it was seen as justifiable to view black children as commodities to be bought and sold for profit.

Black Families in the UK Today

The key issue to remember is that modern black families in the diaspora have survived and thrived.  Immigrants from African and the Caribbean bring a strong cultural and historical family tradition which needs to be consistently respected, celebrated, taught and reinforced in our children. 

The UK is now a melting pot of different ethnicities and historical national origins.  Moreover these people have every right to consider themselves to be British whether they are of Caribbean or African descent. Black British families have made a significant contribution to the wealth and prosperity of the UK as immigrants who came to these shores to work, support and take part in its national life.  It is critical that black families not only take part in the life of the nation, but also have a voice which defines themselves as far more than the all too often, stereotypical headlines that focus on social problems.

The Black Parent Network was formed to give black parents that forum to add their voice and work together to influence change, not just socially and politically but also in perceptions of who we are.

Strong Family Tradition

"The key issue to remember is that modern black families in the diaspora have survived and thrived.  Immigrants from African and the Caribbean bring a strong cultural and historical family tradition which needs to be respected"

African Caribbean Diaspora

Many African Caribbean families can trace their roots in the UK as the result of either themselves or relatives having emigrated from their country of origin in order to seek education, employment and better living for themselves and their children.  The African diaspora as this is formally known as defines the historic movement of people of African origins and their descendants to places throughout the world.  The black population has increased from 1.1 million to over 1.5 million from 2001 to 2009, a growth of 40%.


The term African Caribbean is often used widely to describe Black British people of African and Caribbean heritage.  Historically the term was used to describe black people of West Indian background whose ancestors were primarily indigenous to Africa. As immigration to the United Kingdom from Africa increased in the 1990s, the term has been broadened to include UK residents solely of African origin or as a term to define all Black British residents from whatever background.

The most common and traditional use of the term African-Caribbean community is in reference to groups of residents' continuing aspects of Caribbean culture, customs and traditions in the United Kingdom. The largest proportion of the African-Caribbean population in the UK are of Jamaican origin; others trace origins to nations such as Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, The Bahamas, Guyana, which though located on the South American mainland, is very culturally similar to the Caribbean, and was historically considered to be part of the British West Indies,


Migration of Black Africans to the UK started rather later than that of Caribbean and South Asian people

Until the late 1980s, total migration was around 5000 a year. The total reached 20 thousand in a number of years in the 1990s.

The number of migrants increased rapidly at the turn of the century and remained around 30 thousand per year during this decade.

Migration from West and Central Africa increased steadily during this period. Migration from East Africa increased rapidly in the early 1990s, afterwards falling, but increasing again after 2000.  Migration from Southern Africa was highest around the year 2000.

The largest number of migrants to the UK from African came from South Africa, with the second largest being Nigerian, followed by Kenyan, Zimbabweans, and Ghanaians, Somalian, Ugandans and Ethiopians


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