Kingslee James McLean Daley, better known by his stage name Akala, is a British rapper, author, poet, and social activist. He emerged in the early 2000s as a prominent voice in the UK hip-hop scene, known for his thought-provoking lyrics and socially conscious themes. Beyond music, Akala has been an influential public speaker on issues of race, identity and inequality. He founded The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, blending rap and Shakespearean theatre to engage and educate young people. Akala’s works, including his acclaimed books Natives, and Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, have shed light on systemic racism and colonial legacies. His unwavering commitment to social justice has earned him recognition as a powerful advocate for change.
Diane Abbott is a British politician and trailblazer, notable for being the first black woman elected to the House of Commons. Her political career has been shaped by her advocacy for social justice, racial equality and progressive policies. As an MP she has been a staunch defender of public services, education, and healthcare access. Her dedication to representing diverse voices and championing marginalised communities has made her a respected figure within the Labour Party and beyond.
Lord Waheed Alli is a British media entrepreneur, philanthropist, and politician. He gained recognition as the co-founder of the successful TV production company Planet 24, responsible for groundbreaking shows like The Big Breakfast. Lord Alli has also been actively involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy, using his platform to promote inclusivity and equal rights. His contributions to media and society earned him a peerage, and he became the first openly gay, non-white member of the House of Lords. As a trailblazer in both media and politics, he has played a pivotal role in shaping public discourse and promoting diversity.
Karen Blackett OBE is a British business leader and diversity advocate who is currently President of multinational communications, advertising and public relations company WPP in the UK. In a previous role as CEO of MediaCom UK, she became the first black woman in the country to head a major advertising agency. Karen has been a driving force in promoting diversity and inclusion within the advertising and media industries. Her initiatives have aimed to increase representation at all levels and create a more equitable and innovative workspace, and her leadership and commitment to breaking down barriers have earned her recognition as a transformative figure in the business world.
Valda Jackson is a renowned Jamaican-British artist whose creative journey spans painting, sculpting and writing. With an innovative spirit rooted in her diverse heritage, Valda has forged a distinctive artistic path that melds cultural influences. Her work resonates with vivid colours, symbolic forms, and a profound exploration of identity. Drawing inspiration from her Jamaican roots and British surroundings, Jackson’s creations evoke emotional depth and thought-provoking narratives. Through her brushstrokes, sculptures, and written words, she weaves stories that celebrate heritage, challenge norms, and transcend borders.
Dr Joan St John is a distinguished British scientist and researcher known for her pioneering work in the field of molecular biology and diabetes. Her contributions have significantly advanced our understanding of cell-signalling and gene regulation. Her research has implications for cancer treatment and other medical interventions and her dedication to scientific inquiry and innovation has earned her recognition as a leading figure in molecular biology, with her work influencing both academia and medical practice. She is currently working with researchers to develop resources to assist the understanding of diet, and how this affects diabetes control, in black and minority ethnic community patients.
Harnaam Kaur is a British model, body positivity advocate, and motivational speaker. She gained widespread attention for her decision to embrace her facial hair, a result of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Harnaam’s journey towards self-acceptance and her advocacy for challenging conventional beauty standards have inspired many. Through her work, she aims to empower individuals to embrace their uniqueness and challenge societal norms around appearance. Harnaam’s resilience and message of self-love has resonated globally, making her a symbol of body positivity and self-confidence.
Ashna Sarkar is a British political commentator, journalist and lecturer, known for her insightful analysis of social and political issues. With a strong academic background, Ash has contributed to discussions on topics ranging from feminism and cultural representation to class and economic inequality. Her writings offer critical perspectives on the intersections of identity and power. Through her work, Ash has become a notable voice advocating for progressive change and challenging mainstream narratives. She has more than 400,000 Twitter followers and is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Independent newspapers.
Ayo Sokale is a British environmental activist, urban planner, Chartered Civil Engineer and former councillor and deputy mayor. With a background in architecture and urban design, Ayo has been at the forefront of sustainable development initiatives. She has been involved in numerous projects aimed at promoting environmentally friendly urban planning and addressing climate change challenges. As a councillor, she worked to integrate sustainability into local policies and practices, advocating for green spaces, renewable energy and community engagement. Ayo’s dedication to creating more liveable and eco-conscious cities has positioned her as a dynamic force for positive change.
Patrick Vernon is a British social commentator, historian, former councillor and advocate for social justice and equality. He has been instrumental in highlighting the contributions of the Windrush Generation to British society and advocating for their rights. Patrick’s tireless efforts led to the establishment of Windrush Day, dedicated to honouring the legacy of Caribbean immigrants. He has also been a vocal advocate for healthcare equality and addressing health disparities among minority communities. His work as a historian and activist has contributed to a more inclusive understanding of British history and has led to tangible policy changes.