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Lords marks watershed moment for Black History Month

1 October 2019

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

This Black History Month the House of Lords marks 50 years since Learie Constantine became the first black member in 1969 and the value the diversity of its membership today brings to carrying out its work.

Lord Constantine

Born in Trinidad in 1901, Learie Constantine had an illustrious cricketing career which took him from the Caribbean to England. His distinguished sporting and political career and his campaigning against racial injustice made him one of the most prominent black figures in Britain. He made a lasting impact on attitudes to race relations and discrimination and on 26 March 1969 Learie Constantine made history when he became the first black member of the House of Lords.

Paving the way for change

Lord Fowler, Lord Speaker said: ‘Lord Constantine marked a watershed for the House of Lords. His arrival as the first black life peer paved the way for the many brilliant black and minority ethnic members.'

Members today

House of Lords membership is made of people who come from different social, political and professional backgrounds from across the UK. Many remain active in their careers and are experts in their fields – the House draws on this professional experience in its examination of legislation and government actions and during its investigative committee work.

Watch Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat) and Baroness Young of Hornsey (Crossbench) talk about Lord Constantine, their journey to the House of Lords and the work they do as members.

More firsts in the House of Lords

 As members of the Lords:

  • Baroness Amos (Labour) became the first black woman in the Cabinet when she was appointed Secretary of State for International Development and then Leader of the House of Lords in 2003.
  • Baroness Scotland of Asthal was the first black person and the first woman to be Attorney General in 2007.

Learn more about members and the value they bring to carrying out the House's work