LONDON – There are more than 900 circular blue plaques on buildings in the English capital, each bearing the name of an extraordinary person who has lived or worked there in the past.
The ongoing efforts of England’s non-profit heritage celebrate and aim to commemorate pioneers in their fields – including politicians, scientists, artists and musicians. But the vast majority of plaques celebrate white people, leaving the famously diverse city, which lacks monuments, to its black pioneers.
To change that, the nonprofit Nubian Jak Community Trust, which found that 1.6% of London’s official blue plaques celebrate black people, has launched its own plaque placement project to honor those who are not represented . The group will install 32 black plaques across London the next year.
In collaboration with Havas London, the Trust has also launched an outdoor, social and long copy print campaign that will run on donated media for the next 12 months, telling the story of notable but largely forgotten black heroes.
Each issue contains a unique QR code that takes users to an immersive microsite and brings the forgotten stories to life. The agency also created a short launch video to promote the project.
Stories that need to be told
Dr. Jak Beula, founder of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, said, “Black history is British history. For generations, black pioneers have been changing the social fabric of this country in a positive and lasting way, often despite systematic discrimination. Unfortunately, to this day, that discrimination persists in the way we remember these people and their remarkable achievements.
He said the campaign was launched to “tell these stories, celebrate our rich and diverse past and inspire future generations”.
The people who are thought of in the campaign include:
Fanny Eaton, the mysterious muse of Pre-Raphaelite artists; Ken “Snakehips” Johnson, who entertained the British public during World War II and died on stage during the Blitz; Justin Fashanu, Britain’s first openly gay professional footballer; Ethel Scott, the first black woman to represent Britain in international athletics; and Johnny Kwango, a pioneering musician and dancer turned professional wrestler.
Vicki Maguire, CCO of Havas London, said of the character known as “William Brown”: “How could anyone hear about the woman who served first in the Royal Navy – by disguising herself as a man for more than a decade – and don’t feel like knowing anymore? It’s not only wrong that these stories were forgotten from a historical and cultural point of view, but a travesty out of a narrative story – because they’re just so damn interesting. They deserve to be heard, just as these remarkable people deserve to be remembered. “
Creative agency: Havas London
Managing Director: Xavier Rees
Managing Director: Jennifer Black
Global Brand Director: Tamara Greene
Account Director: Sophie Amodio
Account Manager: Hannah Thomas
Chief Creative Officer: Vicki Maguire
Creative partner: Andy Lockley
Copywriter: Ken Abalos
Art Director: Sam Adio
Production manager: Ali Cooper
Agency producer: Joseph Ogunmokun, Nikola Oksiutycz
Strategy Director: Ravi Matharu, Ally Chapman
Junior strategist: Milan Zum Hebel, Asa Nowers
Head of Creative Services: Shaun Musgrove
Resource Assistant: Evie Ungemuth
Manager: Annika Sintim
Art Buying Director: Claire Lillis
Head of Design: Lorenzo Fruzza
Digital Design Director: Simon Baker
Diversity and Inclusion Manager: Bukola Garry
PR: Faye Raincock, Ollie Dearn
Production company: HKX Productions
Directed by Andy Lockley
Executive Producer: Lou Hardy
Producer: Adam Javes
Assistant director: Phil Sheed
Content creator: Simon Allinson
DoP: Felix Schmilinsky
Cinematographer: Jonathan Smith
Gaffer: Jonathan Smith
1st AC: Claire Smith
Sound recording: Ryan Windley
Runner: Liam Green
Camera equipment: film stores
Post production: Absolute Post
Editor: Tom Higgins
Colorist: Juliette Wileman
Executive Producer: Jenna Le Noury
Production assistant: Ava Millard
Post-production (30 inch trailer): Bubble TV
Executive producer: Kabir Malik
Colorist: Marty McMullan
Editor: Ashley Joiner
Sound engineer: Liam Conwell
Sound Mix: Dave Williams
With special thanks to Gregg White, MD, Envy Advertising
Podcast Production: Unedited
Co-owner and producer: Andrew Spence