Liverpool's first Black player declines British honour in protest against colonialism

Howard Gayle during his time with Liverpool. Photo: Facebook/Howard Gayle.

The first Black football player for English club Liverpool, Howard Gayle, said he declined a nomination for the Member of the British Empire (MBE) honour because he felt he would be betraying his Black ancestors who suffered oppression at the hands of British colonialism.

Gayle, who debuted for Liverpool in 1977, said via Facebook that “unfortunately I had to decline the nomination for the reason that my ancestors would be turning in their graves after how empire and colonialism had enslaved them”.

He said he was nominated for the British state honour because of work with the anti-racist group Show Racism a Red Card. Gayle said that while some may be attracted to the title of the MBE, he believed that accepting the honour would “be a betrayal to all the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of empire”.

Gayle, who was born in Toxteth, in the city's south, has previously said that being Liverpool's first Black player got a lot of media coverage, where many labelled him as an activist and self-righteous.

“I was a landmark as far as Black people were concerned, and I was proud to represent the Black community of Liverpool,” Gayle said on Liverpool fan website, This is Anfield.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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