September 28, 2022
Una Marson. art by Sarah Madden

OCTOBER IS BLACK BRITISH HISTORY MONTH

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Google Doodles celebrates Una Marson first black woman to be employed by the BBC

Google today celebrates Una Marson the first black woman to work for the BBC during World War Two.

Una Marson was born on February 6, 1905, in Santa Cruz, Jamaica. She was a Jamaican feminist activist and writer, producing poems, plays and radio programmes. Her father was the Anglican Rev. Rev. Solomon Isaac Marson (1858–1916). Marson became Jamaica’s first woman magazine publisher and editor in 1928 when she established “The Cosmopolitan”—a publication focused on gender issues and social injustice. The inspiration she drew from London’s political and literary climate led her to move to the city in 1933. Shocked by the racism she encountered, she started fighting for equal rights alongside fellow Caribbean immigrant Dr. Harold Moody, the founder of civil rights group The League of Coloured Peoples.

Marson returned home in 1936 to cultivate a new generation of Jamaican writers. While writing her own poetry and plays—which she often self-financed—she founded Jamaica’s Save the Children Fund. After relocating again to England in 1938, she took a position at the BBC, where she worked with George Orwell, read her poetry alongside T.S. Eliot, and produced the popular weekly program “Calling the West Indies.” First broadcast in 1943, it featured poems and short stories by Caribbean authors, giving an international platform and voice to writers such as Samuel Selvon. It also publicized both a woman’s perspective to the largely male-dominated Black Internationalist Movement and a culturally relevant voice to Britain’s growing Caribbean community.

Marson’s literary contributions are not widely known, and even less is known of her later life. However, it was her writing and poetry that influenced the broadcasting she is best known for, and has broadened her legacy for future generations to discover. In 2009, her achievements were celebrated with an installation of a Blue Plaque—which honors individuals who have had great impacts on their community and beyond—at her former home in London’s Brunswick Park.

She died aged 60 following a heart attack in her native Jamaica.

Source: Google Doodles Wikipedia

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