There's a tendency to think about the Second World War in national terms, in tales of either triumphant victory or guilt-laden defeat. But the war between Allied and Axis powers was a global conflict in every sense of the word and black people – as diverse a collection of individuals and communities as could be imagined – were active parts of this history. This was not only true in the far flung reaches of empire: London, the imperial capital and a focal point for European resistance to Nazi expansion, saw a range of people and historical forces collide in spectacular fashion. This project collates existing scholarly work alongside a raft of new primary research to allow researchers and the public to uncover hidden ways in which the city shaped, and was shaped by, diverse groups of black people. The research began in January 2020 and will continue through the year, with the aim of promoting further scholarship and public conversations that rethink key dimensions of a war we think we know so well.
The map below demonstrates the breadth and depth of the black presence in wartime London. Click on a dot to find out why each place was significant, navigate the tabs to see different types of activity, and use the links on the right to learn more about the project's purpose and method: