Letter to PM: Black Leaders call for Covid-19 Race Equality Strategy


This letter from a wide coalition of Black leaders was delivered to the PM in 10 Downing Street, and published in today's Sunday Times:

Dear Prime Minister

Our nation is at a crossroads in history. We need decisions and not just discussions.

The devastating impact that Covid-19 on many Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities, alongside the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has caused a perfect storm that has shaken our nation to the core.

Many of us believe that it wasn’t just the police officer’s knee that killed George Floyd but an American system that in the worse extremes tacitly permits law enforcement agencies to treat Black Americans no better than animals. Here in the UK, his murder along with the disproportionate number of BAME deaths has unleashed an unprecedented outpouring of fury, sympathy, anger, empathy, woundedness and anguish; and a great desire to radically confront our own nations deep seated historic and contemporary racial inequalities. We can’t pretend. We know the truth. We must face it.

You touched on some of these realities in your statement around ‘BlackLivesMatter’, and you rightly acknowledged that racism still exists, particularly in areas such as employment, health and criminal justice. But it was extremely disappointing that you also stated that we need to ‘change the narrative’ away from ‘victimisation’.

Prime Minister, when Black people are 4 times more likely die from Covid 19, and Bangladeshi people are nearly three times more likely to die than white people, many of whom work on zero hour contracts or low pay, this is not the language of ‘victimisation’, but a heartfelt demand for justice, race equality and true equity, so opportunity is tangible and not aspirational. To be clear it is not the narrative that desperately need to change, it is our fundamental operational systems.

And yes, we can talk about Black successes, but in truth much of that success is in spite of the many obstacles BAME individuals face. Sadly, deprivation is more alive and well than true equity or opportunity. We insist it must be reversed now. Delaying the decisions will not arrest the anguish.

We who live with it know what must be done.

All of us signing this personal letter to you strongly believe this is a moment in history that we must seize. The most important step is firstly honestly acknowledging the challenge - and then plan to address it. We believe that a starting point includes:

• A Covid-19 Race Equality Strategy - (to date 136,000 have signed a petition supporting this)

• Immediate implementations of the 11 race equality reviews

• Immediate implementation of ‘Ethnic minority pay gap reporting' legislation

• Recruitment of 40,000 Black teachers (which will not only change black pupils prospects radically, but also allow all children to see many more Black role models)

• A fast review of our education curriculum, particularly around our history, and global history

We hope you will engage with us on embarking on this truly historic moment, which we argue offers rich rewards for everyone within the United Kingdom. We are ready to serve to see the outcomes.


  • Lord Dr Michael Hastings CBE - Chair of Crime Concern, former CRE Commissioner
  • Sir Lenny Henry, Actor/ Writer
  • Lord Simon Woolley, KT, CEO Operation Black Vote
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah, Theatre Director, Writer, Actor
  • Ozwald Boateng, Fashion designer, entrepreneur
  • Beverley Knight, Writer, Singer
  • Pat Younge, Film/documentary maker, former Director of BBC
  • Karen Blackett, CEO Mediacom
  • Nero Ugwujabo, former Special advisor to the Prime Minister David
  • David Olusoga, Historian/Writer
  • Chris Ramsey, Queens Park Rangers coach
  • Afua Hirsch, Writer
  • Kenny Imafidon, Chair CITY GATEWAY, BBC Children in Need Trustee
  • Lord Victor Adebowale CBE


  1. The letter is the 8th down titled 'Seize moment to stop racism dead'.
  2. Please note 'The Times' website operates a paywall.