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Mercedes Lourdes


Frias Anti-racism campaigner/former MP, Italy


Born in the Dominican Republic, Mercedes Lourdes Frias in 2006, became the first black person to be elected to the Italian parliament and served two years as an MP. Mercedes is recognised for her dedication to promoting the benefits of multiculturalism in Italy. As a member of the Commission on Constitutional Affairs and Parliamentary Committee, on the Implementation of the Control of Schengen Agreement, and the Control and Surveillance on Immigration, she has helped bring about changes to Italian law around immigration. During her two years in parliament she supported the extended protection of the Roma and Sinti gypsy languages in 2007. She also called for the establishment of a professional linguistic and cultural mediator in education and improved facilities for teacher training in 2008. From 1994-97 she was a member of the Council of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. In the town of Empoli she was a councillor for environment, rights of citizenship and equal opportunities.


W


hen thinking about influential black figures many automatically turn their attention towards America and the UK. But the black Diaspora is vast and across Europe, in a wide variety of occupations and positions


of power, there is a clear rise of a black elite. Two decades ago it may have seemed inconceivable that Poland would have a Nigerian- born MP or that one of France’s biggest businessmen would be a black man. But the winds of change are blowing across Europe as greater diversity and black advancement become facts of the new order. Here we profile 30 Europeans of African and Caribbean heritage who are part of the black movers and shakers shaping a new Europe.


COMPILED BY WHITLEY WESTON Steffi


Jones Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) Ambassador, former footballer, Germany


One of Europe’s most important female footballers, Steffi Jones was president of the Local Organising Committee of the 2011 Fifa Women’s World Cup (think Seb Coe at the London Olympics for comparison) where she was hailed as the face of German football for her past contribution to the national team. Born in 1972, Steffi grew up in the Bonames district of Frankfurt, before going on to play 111 games with the German national team between 1993 and 2007, winning three consecutive European championships, the 2003 Fifa Women’s World Cup, two Olympic bronze medals and six German national titles. Internationally known and respected, she is now Ambassador of Uefa’s Women’s Football Development Programme (WFDP) strengthening the profile of women’s football. Under Steffi’s leadership, the WFDP gained support from the Uefa executive committee, to invest €22m into women’s football in 2012.


59


Top 30 Europeans


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