Updated: Jun 22, 2021
London Euston's first Black Train Guard Asquith Xavier is finally gaining the recognition he deserves for his role in changing history
Asquith Xavier is finally being acknowledged for his efforts in overturning a whites-only recruitment policy in the 1960s. Asquith migrated to England from Dominica in 1958 with hopes of better opportunities as part of 'The Windrush Generation.' He soon began employment as a porter with British rail and then went on to his role as a guard at Marylebone depot in London. Then in 1966 Xavier applied for a promotion that would see him transfer to London Euston station, where guards were paid an extra £10 a week. But remarkably he was turned down for the role as a result of an informal ban that prohibited Black workers holding railway jobs where they met the public, marking the start of Asquith's fight for equality!
He went on to campaign to end the colour bar across London stations which resulted in British Railways announcing the racist recruitment policy had been scrapped on the 15th July 1966 and later saw him become London Euston's first Black train guard, changing history for the better.
A plaque honouring Xavier was unveiled back in 2016 at Euston station, however his Granddaughter Camealia Xavier-Chihota urged for something to remember Asquith in his home town of Chatham. She said "It's the place that he called home. He travelled from this platform to Euston every day and it's the place where he raised his family and where he was laid to rest." A plaque in Chatham has now been put in place and speaking at the ceremony his daughter Maria expressed how proud she was of her father, saying "My dad was a fighter he didn't like to see himself and others treated unfairly. I'm glad that I'm his Daughter."
Another proud member of Xavier's family includes Croydon FM's own DJ Carlito, host of 'Dancehall Shelldown'. When we asked Carlito how he feels about his Grandfathers achievements he said "I am proud of my grandfathers achievements in his fight for equally for black people in Britain. This is an inspiration and has encouraged me to always fight for what I believe in."
Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to learn, appreciate and reflect on the achievements of Black people throughout history who's stories are often neglected and brushed over. Asquith Xavier being the perfect example of someone who has had a huge impact on history but until recently was pretty much unknown to most people, highlighting the sheer importance of this month and taking the opportunity to shine a light on histories forgotten and overshadowed figures.
How have you been celebrating Black History Month so far?