Timeline 1900 – 2024

‘The Black Peril’

The increasing visibility of black people in industrial areas and seaports as a result of the First World War led to hysteria in some sections of the press about ‘the Black Peril’. In particular, there was a great deal of panic about the ‘menace to local women and moral standards’ these black men presented.

This vilification led to angry reactions against black workers and servicemen, some of whom brought it to the attention of those back in the West Indies in order to inform and dissuade other potential volunteers and workers. to this hostility Black men, both industrial workers and servicemen, responded angrily to the negative press coverage, some even sending copies of the articles back to the West Indies to dissuade other potential volunteers and war workers.

In July 1917, several black sailors were attacked in their lodging houses and on the streets in Canning Town, a dock neighbourhood in East London which housed one of the largest black communities in the country. The Daily Express firmly blamed interracial relationships as lying at the heart of the problem. Hostility to interracial relationships between black men and white women would also play a key role in the wider series of race riots that took place throughout the country in 1919.


In consequence of the infatuation of white girls for the Black men in the district some of the inhabitants are greatly incensed against Blacks.

— Daily Express, 7 July 1917