At Athena and Spectrum, Carnival UK’s inclusion networks, we’re predominantly focused on issues relating to gender and LGBTQ+, but we’re also passionate about  inspiring progress through inclusion for all.

This month is Black History Month so we asked some of our members to tell us about inspirational figures from African and Caribbean descent. Tragically all too often black people who have made a positive lasting impact on our world go unrecognised and so we’d like to take this chance to share some stories of people who have inspired us.

We’ve all heard of Alexander Graham Bell of telephone fame; John Logie Baird of Television notoriety… Well this is Dr Marian R. Croak. She developed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – eg being able to make phone calls using internet. She also filed the patent to enable charitable donations through text message. Her contributions have shaped modern society just as much as the aforementioned and better known inventors!

Hannah Leach



This is Mae Jemison.
An American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut.

She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Angela Rose



I’m inspired by Dorothy Vaughan. You may be familiar with her work if you watched the film Hidden Figures. She battled with being overlooked as a black woman working at NASA at a time when teams were segregated (they even had ‘black’ and ‘white’ bathrooms – totally unthinkable now).

She was an incredibly talented mathematician and a creative and inspiring leader. She taught herself an early computer programme at a time when these skills were rare and shared her knowledge with her team of black women so that they continued to be a relevant and indispensable resource.

 Rosy Sims


I watched a really interesting TV show this week called ‘In The Shadow of Mary Seacole’.

It’s about the FIRST (!!) black female statue that was erected in the UK in 2016.

Mary Seacole was a pioneering nurse who set up the ‘British Hotel’ (hospital for the sick and injured) behind the lines during the Crimean War.

Emma Kenny



Hattie McDaniel was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind, becoming the first African American to win an Oscar.

She wasn’t even allowed to go to her own premiere in Atlanta and although she attended the Oscar’s ceremony (and won!), she had to sit at a segregated table.
                                                                 Cristina Munoz

If you’re interested in learning more, a long overdue book has recently been released and brought to our attention by Odette McFarlane.

The book is called 100 Great Black Britons and is a celebration of the extraordinary contribution of key figures of African or Caribbean descent to British Life. We would encourage you to check it out to learn more about the lesser publicised parts of our history that shaped our nation as it is today.

Who inspires you from African and Caribbean descent? Tell us in the comments box below.

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