“…young people — who all too often are not heard in our society– young people at risk and young people in care. These are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society. They do not have much of a chance because they tend to go into care, having been subjected to abuse and disadvantage in myriad ways. When they are in care, I fear that the state does not prove to be a very good parent.” – Paul Yaw Boateng, first black cabinet minister in the UK
Paul Yaw Boateng
On June 14, 1951, Paul Yaw Boateng, the first black cabinet minister in the United Kingdom, was born in Hackney, London but raised in Ghana. In 1966, his family was forced into exile in Britain after the coup against Kwame Nkrumah. Mr. Boateng earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol in 1976 and began to practice civil rights law. He worked primarily on cases involving women’s rights, housing, and police complaints.
In 1987, Mr. Boateng was elected to the Greater London Council for Walthamstow where he advocated greater accountability in the police and spoke out against racism in their dealings with black and Asian communities. That same year, he was elected to parliament and in 1997, became the United Kingdom’s first black government minister as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health. In that position, he published guidelines to end the denial of adoption purely on the basis of race.
In 2002, Mr. Boateng was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, making him Britain’s first black cabinet minister, a position he held until 2005. From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Boateng served as British High Commissioner to South Africa. In 2010, he was made a member of the House of Lords and in his maiden speech, highlighted the needs of poor and disadvantaged children. Mr. Boateng also sits on the executive board of the international Christian charity, Food for the Hungry.
The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.