In celebration of Black History Month 2022, Amazon has collaborated with some of the UK’s bestselling black authors to bring a selection of powerful black British stories to Alexa, narrated by broadcasting legend, Sir Trevor McDonald.
The unique short stories, penned by authors Frances Mensah Williams (creator of the From Pasta to Pigfoot series and author of bestselling title, The Second Time We Met); novelist, broadcaster, journalist and campaigner, Dreda Say Mitchell MBE; and Lauren Rae (author of the bestselling memoir Love, Wine and Other Highs) explore the inspiring lives of black Britons, with Alexa users able to hear the stories narrated by Sir Trevor McDonald.
Users will be able to simply ask “Alexa, tell me about black British history” during Black History Month 2022 (1st – 31st October) to hear the original stories. In addition to asking Alexa to "Tell me about black British history”, users can also test their knowledge of black history by asking Alexa to quiz them with the phrase “Alexa, quiz me on black history”. Alternatively, users can learn an interesting fact about black history by asking “Alexa, what's my fact of the day”.
It’s important that these people, and what they did, is not forgotten, is talked about, and part of our history.
“This project is, to my mind, invaluable,” said Sir Trevor McDonald. “It makes known and makes more accessible, the lives of people who were great influencers in our communities - but, would not be known, unless the stories of their lives were recorded and put down in a way that we can all learn from them. I think it’s most important that these people, and what they did, is not forgotten, is talked about, and part of our history.”
“The theme for Black History Month this year, ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’ is very apt. For too many years people have talked about diversity, about giving a place in the community to all people, and actually not done very much. This time the emphasis is on doing something about it.”
Sir Trevor’s iconic voice will return to British homes for the month in a bid to inspire future generations to continue breaking barriers, during an important moment of reflection and celebration of black history. Sir Trevor’s will detail the stories of the following significant figures of black British history:
- Althea McNish – one of the first black British designers to establish an international reputation, Althea migrated to London from Trinidad at the age of eighteen in 1951. She developed and explored her own unique technique of textile design at a number of London institutions and, upon graduating worked with the London designer department store Liberty, winning a legendary status in the field. As a black woman born nearly a century ago into a colonial world, Althea McNish was a trailblazer and innovator in every sense.
“Althea McNish’s extraordinary career changed post-war British design forever. She fearlessly pathed the way for future black British designers and taught black women to dream BIG” – Dreda Say Mitchell (Author)
- Evelyn Dove – Evelyn graduated as a highly trained singer with a remarkable voice and joined a number of bands touring UK clubs. Following a successful tour in the 1920-30’s across Germany, the Netherlands and France, Evelyn returned to the UK where she made history as the first black singer to feature on BBC Radio.
“Evelyn Dove is a shining example of an ordinary black woman with extraordinary talent. Her courage and determination to use her remarkable voice and abilities to face down racial barriers forged a path for today’s black British performers” – Frances Mensah Williams (Author)
- Claudia Jones – the founder of the iconic Notting Hill Carnival. In 1959, when Claudia Jones founded Notting Hill Carnival, black Britons faced large scale racial discrimination on a regular basis, and as such, Claudia Jones, alongside Rhaune Laslett and Duke Vin founded the Carnival as a means of celebration following arduous times living in Britain. The carnival was first held in the aftermath of a series of race riots which saw Afro-Caribbean communities attacked regularly for merely existing in predominantly white communities.
“Claudia Jones was truly a pioneer for West Indian culture in the UK. Her efforts paved the way for the Notting Hill Carnival I know and love today, she truly is deserving of the title ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’” – Lauren Rae (Author)
Nathaniel Brooks, Amazon Black Employee Network (BEN) UK board member, explains: “Black History Month is a time to celebrate black history, culture and heritage. I’m excited for Alexa customers in the UK, who are now able to listen to powerful short stories of three black British trailblazers by renowned authors. It's an honour to have legendary broadcaster, Sir Trevor McDonald bring their stories to life on Alexa. Their stories are just as important now, as we continue to highlight the achievements of black people in the UK, that have so often been overlooked."
In addition to asking Alexa to "Tell me about black British history” users can test their knowledge of black history by asking “Alexa, quiz me on black history”. Users can also learn an interesting fact about black history by asking “Alexa, what's my fact of the day”.
Find out how Amazon is supporting Black Tech Fest 2022.