Black and British: A Forgotten History

Moral Mission

Series 1 - Episode 3 Moral Mission



As a tide of revulsion against the slave trade slowly began to sweep the world, some of the bravest and most committed fighters for abolition were the mill workers of Rochdale in Lancashire.

Historian David Olusoga unveils one of his commemorative plaques in the town to the men and women who refused to handle cotton picked by slaves. This was despite their own terrible hardships when the American Civil War led to the dramatic contraction of the industry and mass redundancies in the British mills.

More widely, there was a “moral mission” in Victorian England against slavery; ex-slaves became big draws when they toured Britain to tell their stories of servitude and cruelty. Queen Victoria even received a six-year-old enslaved girl, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, as a “gift”. Under the monarch’s direct protection, she led a remarkable life.


Historian David Olusoga continue his exploration of black British history. Focusing on the Victorian era, David explores the moral crusade against slavery within this period of time and key moments that helped to shift the position of slavery within Britain. He discovers about mill workers of Rochdale that stood in solidarity with enslaved Africans in the American South, how Queen Victoria came to have a black god-daughter, and looks back at the victims of a tragedy in Jamaica.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Olusoga
Director Naomi Austin
Executive Producer Chris Granlund
Producer Naomi Austin
Series Producer James Van der Pool
Writer David Olusoga
see more