Black British women pioneers: Kathleen Wrasama

Who are they?

Kathleen Wrasama, (sometimes known as Kathleen Warsama), was a community organiser. Born in Ethiopia, Kathleen moved to England as a child in 1917 after being brought by church missionaries. Before working as a farm labourer, Kathleen is said to have had an ill-experience in a Yorkshire children’s home that caused her to run away. She moved to London in the 1930s where she worked as an extra in Paul Robeson films. She and her husband then moved to Stepney where they established a Somali seaman’s mission (Stepney, East London was a settling spot for several ex-seaman from the commonwealth, who fought for Britain in the war).

What did she do?

Wrasama was a founding member of the Stepney Coloured People’s Association in the 1950s, an organisation that worked to improve community relations, as well as education and housing for black people.

Why is she important?

She created a community space for black people during a troubled time, and committed to bettering the education and sheltering of people of colour. She also spread awareness by sharing her experiences of racism through invited talks at school visits.

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