Charlie Sloth

On Air Now 16:00 – 17:45

What happened in 1960

  • Chief Albert Luthuli, President of the ANC, wins the Nobel peace Prize and passes through London on his way to collect it. He is met by a group of UK-based black activists including Claudia Jones (see 1964) and Pearl Connor-Mogotsi (see 1963).
  • On March 21, 69 people are shot dead in South Africa in what becomes known as the Sharpeville Massacre. It occured during a protest against the the humiliating and inconvenient ID passes that Africans had been forced to carry after a law passed in 1958.
  • Gandhi and his leadership of India toward independence during 1947 had a great impact on African nationalists. They worked toward the same goal during the politically active 1950s. In 1960 alone these countries became fully independent; Cameroun, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar, Zaire, Somalia, Benin, Niger, Bourika Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritania and Nigeria. The majority of Africa was independent by the end of the 60s.
  • A TV drama called The Dark Man stars Earl Cameron as a West Indian cab driver. It tries to honestly examine the reactions and prejudices he faces at work. During the 60s there were an increasing number of programmes that explored the black experience in the UK.
  • There was also a burst of creativity British black theatre in the early 60s initiated by the prize-winning Moon On A Rainbow Shawl by Errol John (1957). Plays such as Wole Soyinka's The Lion and the Jewel ('62) and Jamaican Barry Reckford's Skyvers ('63) played at the Royal Court theatre.
  • Wole Soyinka (originally of the Yoruba tribe, Nigeria) wins a Rockefeller bursary and returns home to study African theatre. He's commissioned to write a play, A Dance of the Forests, celebrating Nigerian independence. Soyinka is a hugely important literary figure winning the Nobel Prize in 1986. It was during the time he lived in England ('54-'60) that he wrote his first plays.
  • Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali-Haj) wins a gold medal as a light heavyweight boxer at the Olympics in Rome, aged 18 after pounding Polish opponent Zbigniew Pietryskowsky in the final. Both he and his father were named after Cassius M. Clay, an opponent of slavery in the era of Abraham Lincoln. He is so proud of his gold medal that he doesn't take it off for two days.
  • The Rome Olympics: Wilma Rudolph (who had polio and couldn't walk properly until aged 12), wins three golds for the USA in sprint events, and Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs the marathon bare-footed and is the first black African to win gold. It is South Africa's last appearance at the Olympics. They were banned until '92 when apartheid ended.

In the music

  • Berry Gordy changes the name of his fledgling record label from Tamla to Motown. He sets up its first headquarters in Detroit, hanging a huge sign up outside that read Hitsville U.S.A. It was a prophetic sign as the Motown acts went on to clean up on the RnB charts.
  • Fats Domino was a key influence on British music. In the 1950s he sold more records than any other black star in the US playing a form of New Orleans R&B. He's attributed to being one of the creators of rock n roll - one of the most important music styles of the 20th century. Between 1960 and 1963 he had 9 tracks in the UK top 50.
  • Ray Charles and Grammys - he won four in 1960. Blind by the age of six, orphaned by his early teens, Charles studied music at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. He was a hugely talented and charismatic performer, creating his own flavour of pop music by working gospel, jazz and blues into R&B.

Key Releases


Grammy awards

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