The Black Equity Organisation, a national and independent civil rights organisation founded to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain launched yesterday.
Launched in the week of the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and the anti-racist protests that followed, the Black Equity Organisation (BEO) will focus on six key areas where Black people face greatest inequity:Driving economic empowerment and equity of opportunity Addressing unequal education outcomes Combating sources of racial discrimination within justice, immigration and human rights Driving representation and respect across all sectors of society Working to improve health and care outcomes for Black people Ensuring that Black families can access good quality housing and our communities have access to good quality public services
BEO will work with and complement the work of grassroots, community and other charity organisations. It also invites others to join with it.
The organisation will also create partnerships and programmes to support Black communities across the country. Its first official programme partner Sky has been involved since the organisation’s inception, and has contributed financial support and advice, including funding a new programme rooted in BEO’s strategic pillar focused on economic empowerment and equity of opportunity.
It has been founded by Black leaders from the worlds of business, law, arts and social justice including McKinsey & Company senior partner Dame Vivian Hunt, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP, historian and presenter Professor David Olusoga, WPP UK Country manager Karen Blackett OBE and artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE.
BEO’s formation began two years ago in July 2020 when Lammy, after consulting founding trustees Dame Vivian and Blackett, convened a work session for the design and delivery of a national, strategic race equality organisation in the UK that would have the same level of depth and scale as the NACCP in the US.
At launch BEO already has backing and support of companies including Sky, which will be the group’s first official programme partner, WPP, which has provided pro bono marketing and communications support, as well as charitable foundation Lankelly Chase and several of the country’s foremost law firms.
Campaign video Change Is Here was also released to coincide with the launch. Voiced by actress and Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh the film includes images taken by photographer Misan Harriman, the first Black man to shoot a cover of British Vogue.
BEO’s Chair of Trustees Dame Vivian Hunt said:
“We are proud to launch the Black Equity Organisation, the UK’s first national Black British civil rights organisation. We are committed to addressing the full range of systemic challenges facing the Black British population and will help both Black and all Britons reach their full potential. We respect and stand on the shoulders of the many grassroots organisations across the country. We will convene and work in partnership with grassroots, national and ally organisations to deliver real change.
“The challenges that Black Britons face have been developing over many generations. BEO aims to set up a collaborative and generational response. We want to be the change that is needed to deliver both protest and systemic progress.”
BEO’s Board of Trustees also includes business leader and philanthropist Ric Lewis, social-justice lawyer Marcia Willis Stewart QC, disability campaigner Michelle Daley, activist & social entrepreneur, Yvonne Field and co-founder of Conservatives Against Racism for Equality Siobhan Aarons. Its youngest trustee is 19-year-old former youth MP Athian Akec.