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Sharon White, Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell among 100 Great Black Britons

Lauretta Roberts
01 October 2020

John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful and supermodel Naomi Campbell have been named among 100 Great Black Britons as Black History Month gets underway.

The list, which celebrates key black individuals from the past 400 years, has been published in a book which is due to be sent to all secondary schools in the UK.

It is a follow up from an initiative in 2003-2004, which was topped by Crimean Nurse Mary Seacole. This year's list however was not ranked and was compiled by a panel of members based on public nominations.

Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon and historian Dr Angelina Osborne spearheaded the initiative and produced the book, which tells the stories of those included in the lists. Other notable names include F1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton, film director Steve McQueen, Booker Prize winning author Bernadine Evaristo and music artist Stormzy.

Vernon and Dr Osborne told The Guardian that they compelled to produce the book in light of the Windrush scandal, the Grenfell Tower disaster and growing intolerance following the Brexit vote.

A Gofundme campaign has been established to pay for the distribution of the book to schools, following the Government's rejection of calls for black and other minorities’ history to be added to the English national curriculum.

“The book is for everybody, it’s about informing and educating everybody. I think it’s always been unacceptable to us to be at school or in education not having black British history included in the curriculum," Dr Osborne said.

Dame Sharon White was appointed chairman of John Lewis at the start of the year and has steered the retailer through its most challenging period in living memory. She is a former CEO of Ofcom and a civil servant and was the first black person, and the second woman, to become a Permanent Secretary at the Treasury.

Brought up in Leyton to parents who had emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in the 1950s, she was appointed DBE in the 2020 New Year's Honours List.

Edward Enninful

Edward Enninful

Edward Enninful broke ground as one of the youngest ever fashion magazine editors taking over as editor of i-D magazine at the age of just 18, having previously been a fashion model.

He went on to become one of the most respected fashion stylists and editors globally working for Vogue Italia, where he spearheaded the legendary Black Issue, American Vogue and W magazine.

In 2017 Enninful was confirmed as the successor to Alexandra Shulman as editor of British Vogue. He is credited with bringing a more inclusive approach to the magazine in term of both its content and the make up of its team. Born in Ghana, he emigrated to London at a young age and was awarded the OBE in 2016.

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell by John-Paul Pietrus

Naomi Campbell remains one of the world's foremost models, having been one of the original supermodels of the late 1980s and 1990s. She has blazed a trail for black models in the industry from the beginning of her career, such as in 1987 becoming the first black woman to feature on the cover of British Vogue since the 1960s. In 1988 she became the first ever black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue after her friend, the legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent, threatened to pull his advertising if she was not.

Campbell has modelled for everyone from Versace to Dolce & Gabbana to Vivienne Westwood, Saint Laurent, Burberry and almost everyone in between and has been photographed by the most pre-eminent photographers from Peter Lindbergh to Patrick Demarchelier.

She has also dedicated time to philanthropic initiatives such as her own charity Fashion for Relief, which started by raising money for victims of Hurricane Katrina but has also supported a range of other causes over the years. Last year she was named as the "Fashion Icon" at The Fashion Awards, organised by the British Fashion Council.

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