Historic Black Icons At Madame Tussauds

Last week I spent my Saturday at Madame Tussauds in London. Madame Tussauds is the famous venue which displays the most influential celebrities and icons in history, from music, sports, politicians and activists. 

Upon my arrival at Madame Tussauds, I was astonished to find wax figures of some of the most important black leaders in history. These include the likes of Muhammad Ali, who dedicated his life to fighting for the liberation of our people and and taught us that black is beautiful. Race was the theme of Ali's life. He insisted that America should except a black man who wasn't afraid to speak out, who refused to be what others expected him to be. He didn't overcome race. He didn't overcome racism. He called it out. He insisted that racism shaped our notions of race, that it was never the other way around.

 Statue of Muhammad Ali

 

Martin Luther King Jr., the most prominent figure in the civil rights movement, is also on show at Madame Tussauds. King helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, a yearlong campaign touched off when seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The King Center in Atlanta is a living memorial to King’s vision of a free and equal world dedicated to expanding opportunity, fighting racism and ending all forms of discrimination.

  Pictured next to Martin Luther King Jr at Madame Tussauds

 

Barack Obama changed how black folks thought of themselves and the wider nation they lived in. Obama’s attainment of the nation’s highest office illuminated the depth and breadth of black genius in American society, helping to inspire millions of young people to dream bigger dreams. For eight extraordinary years, Obama and his poised, elegant and brilliant family occupied the domestic and world stage in a way that offered new models of excellence for millions of black children living in a society that continues to marginalize their hopes and dreams, accentuate their mistakes and errors, and place too little values on their lives or deaths.

 Barack Obama made history by becoming the 1st black president of the United States

 

The legacy of Nelson Mandela is also celebrated in Madame Tussauds. Confronted by the challenges of apartheid, physical imprisonment, and doubt, Mandela nonetheless wielded his inimitable spirit to improve the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen and women, as an activist, scholar, leader, and, ultimately, one of the world’s greatest-ever humanitarians. 

 Pictured Next to Nelson Mandela

 

Usain Bolt also has a statue, and is regarded as the fastest athlete ever timed. The athlete broke the world record for the 100 metres with a time of 9.5 seconds and the 200 metres with a time of 19.19 seconds in Berlin in 2009. He was part of the relay team that holds the record for 4 x 100 metre race after they completed it in 36.84 seconds in London in 2012. Two other athletes who have statues at Madame Tussauds are Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, also famous for making history in the Olympic Games.

 Image of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis Wax figures at Madame Tussauds

 Usain Bolt wax figure at Madame Tussauds

 

Beyonce continues to celebrate her lasting legacy. With 16 Grammys, millions of records sold, several defining hits and a superstar husband, Beyonce has nothing to prove. Queen B's Netflix documentary Homecoming is much more than a film about the first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival. She celebrates culture with education, specifically Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), serving as the foundation of her message. Throughout Homecoming, Beyoncé included quotes and audio from black leaders and intellectuals, and I greatly appreciated the quote she used from W.E.B. Du Bois: "Education must not simply teach work - it must teach life."

 Picture of Beyonce Wax Figure

 

A wax figure is also present of the iconic figure Bob Marley. Bob Marley is widely recognized for the unparalleled influence of his artistry upon global culture. Since his passing on May 11, 1981, Bob Marley’s legend looms larger than ever, as evidenced by an ever-lengthening list of accomplishments attributable to his music, which identified oppressors and agitated for social change while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance. 

 Bob Marley's song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC.

The black historians on show at Madame Tussauds were a reminder of the great contributions we have made to global society for generations. No other race shows the same level of creativity, intellect, diversity and emotion as black people - we have eclipsed the normal standards seen across music, fashion, sports and other industries in the world today.

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