Nineteen essays offer a powerful – and varied – portrait of the black British experience The killing of George Floyd by a white police officer may have taken place thousands of miles away, but his agonising cry – “I can’t breathe” – reverberated in the UK, too. In fact, it became the catalyst for the largest wave of anti-racist protests in British history, taking place in more than 260 towns and cities last summer. These protests were very much rooted in the British experience. Demonstrators carried handmade placards with the names of black Britons killed by the British police; they demanded justice for members of the Windrush generation threatened with deportation and the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire; they decried the high Covid-19 death rate among communities of colour. Statues were toppled, streets renamed and venerable British institutions such as the Bank of England were forced to reckon with their ties to the slave trade. A year later, Black British Lives Matter, edited by Lenny Henry and Marcus Ryder, takes time to reflect on this extraordinary movement.
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