The year 2020 has been significant for social justice movements, particularly for Black Lives Matter movement. The massive protests across the United States and in some parts of Europe once again highlighted the systemic racism present in the countries.
To honour the sufferings of Black people, a few post boxes in Britain are being painted black. The Royal Mail post boxes which are usually red have been painted black as part of Black History Month in October in London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Belfast.
Each post box features a significant figure from the British black community, and a postal stamp dedicated to them along with a social media link. The aim of this gesture is to help mark the success of Black Britons, says the Royal Mail. A QR code on the post-boxes can also be scanned to view a list of the Black Britons who have appeared on special stamps.
The London postbox is situated in Acre Lane, Brixton, near the Black Cultural Archives. The box features the image Queuing at the RA by Yinka Shonibare (CBE). He is a British-Nigerian artist whose work focuses on cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. Shonibare was one of the artists commissioned to produce artworks for a set of Special Stamps issued to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy.
Bedford Street, BelfastThis parcel postbox was chosen for its proximity to Belfast City Hall. The box features an image of Sir Lenny Henry CBE. Stand-up comedian, actor, singer, writer & television presenter, known for co-founding the charity Comic Relief.#BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/Jh4R560tKv
— Royal Mail (@RoyalMail) September 30, 2020
Speaking to BBC, Shonibare said “As a citizen of the Commonwealth, it was particularly important to me to be making a visible contribution in a historic public space.”
In Belfast, the post box honours Sir Lenny Henry CBE who is a stand-up comedian, actor, singer, writer and television presenter, known for co-founding the charity Comic Relief.
Glasgow’s post box features the image of Walter Tull who was the first Black player for Scottish football club, Rangers, before he was tragically killed in action as a member of the British Army. He was also featured in stamps released in 2018, to mark the end of the First World War.
The post box in Cardiff which is located at King Edward VII Avenue features nurse and businesswoman Mary Seacole. Seacole offered her services to the wounded British soldiers injured during the Crimean War (1853-1856). She also built a dedicated place for them to recuperate known as the British Hotel.