Alex Pascall OBE left Grenada in 1959 with a one-way ticket to Britain. His intention was to study modern communication. In the decades that followed Pascall became a pioneering figure in the British media scene at a time when to be black in Britain was a matter of political struggle.
Pascall is best-known as a broadcaster, pioneering the BBC radio programme ‘Black Londoners’ for over a decade on BBC Radio London, which he produced and presented.
The show hit the airwaves on November 22, 1974. Once a month for 90 minutes, 56% of the Black population of London tuned in. During his tenure as presenter, Pascall interviewed celebrities of the era, including Muhammed Ali, and he also covered seismic news events that rocked Britain’s black community to its core.
My childhood memory of the importance of ‘Black Londoners’ was that its mere presence was a rare demonstration that black people in Britain mattered to the mainstream, even if only for an hour and a half each month.
Yet while the BBC honours many of its ‘grand old news men’ by keeping them on screen (John Simpson, David Dimbleby, Michael Burke etc) Pascall’s story seems to have faded away from the mainstream.
As second or third generation Grenadian it’s easy to be subsumed by first world problems, but there is an immense power to be gained from acknowledging and appreciating the struggle and sacrifice made by those who have gone before us. So Mr Pascall, from one journalist to another – I owe you a pint.