British Black Histories
Talks & Seminars

Black British Histories: Race and Racism in the City: Notting Hill in the 1950s

This talk explores how Not­ting Hill riots remapped his­to­ries of race and racism in mod­ern Britain.

Historical Association and University of Plymouth History Department talk

While celebrated for its diversity and multiculturalism today, the London district of Notting Hill has a complex history of race relations. In the 1950s, the region faced housing shortages and rising unemployment. It was also home to growing tensions between white working-class youths (known as ‘Teddy Boys’) and its African Caribbean communities. In late August 1958, these tensions flared as Black residents and their properties were attacked. The Notting Hill race riots ensued. What started off as a series of isolated incidents ended up as a prolonged series of attacks and counterattacks that lasted for five days.

This talk explores how the Notting Hill riots remapped histories of race and racism in modern Britain. As a decisive turning point, the riots galvanised anti-immigrant rhetoric but it also created spaces for Black British activism to thrive. For instance, the birth of the Notting Hill carnival in 1959 marked the flourishing of Black British political consciousness and the celebration of Black British culture.
British Black Histories