Samuel Jules Celestine Edwards is said to be the first black publisher in Britain.
The youngest of nine children, Edwards was born on the island of Dominica on 28th December, 1858. During his teen years, he formed radical opinions on politics and became a supporter of human rights.
In the 1870’s he moved to Britain and became a successful evangelist for the Methodist Church.
One of the highlights of Edwards’ career were his speeches, which he gave across the UK, particularly on ‘The Negro Race and Social Darwinism’ and ‘Liquor Traffic to West Africa’.
Below is an extract from one of his speeches which was delivered in in Newcastle.
My ancestors proudly trod the sands of the African continent; but from their home and friends were dragged into the slave mart and sold to the planters of the West Indies. The very thought that my race should have been so grievously wronged is almost more than I can bear. Of the condition of my people today I but tarry to say that by diligence, thought, and care they have given the lie to many a false prophet who, prior to their Emancipation, sought to convince the world that the black man was in all respects unfit for freedom. Their position today is one over which I proudly rejoice. To their future I look with confidence.
London, however he suffered poor health and returned to his family in Dominica in May 1894. He then died at his brother’s house in July of the same year. (Note that according to another account, Celestine died at his brother’s house in Barbados).