Brighton Honours Life of African Slave Boy Who Died 148 Years Ago
The young boy sadly died a premature death.
Those who know Brighton know that it is a progressive location.
It is a beacon for minority groups, with a rich multiculturalism, and a reputation as the hub for Britain’s LGBT community.
A beautiful story uncovered by the Brighton and Hove Black History Group has shown that, even in the 19th century, the city was forward-thinking.
The story is of an African slave boy rescued from a life of subjugation by a British Royal Navy ship.
The boy was named Thomas Highflyer after the ship that saved him.
He then was taken to Brighton, where he was put under the care of a local couple.
He attended St Mark’s School, where he was an accepted, and popular, member of the community.
However, devastatingly, Thomas’ health failed him and he died on the 20th of June 1870 at just 12-years-old.
His story had seemingly been forgotten until the city’s Black History Group shone light on it again.
His headstone was restored by local stonemasons, and placed back at his original resting place.
A service was held in commemoration of Thomas on the 20th June, with current St Mark’s students attending the event.
Paul Campbell of Brighton and Hove city council sees the treatment of Thomas as a positive lesson to all: “it’s a good point to reflect back on how we can be more humane and have more compassion to others.”
The story is a beautiful example of Brighton’s inclusivity.
In an age where prejudice is still rife, it will hopefully inspire the actions of future generations.