New Year Honours 2022: Ashley Banjo receives MBE after racial equality campaigning

Leader of dance troupe Diversity says honour is ‘the ultimate accolade’

Roisin O'Connor
Friday 31 December 2021 22:30
Diversity take the knee during Black Lives Matter themed Britain's Got Talent performance

Ashley Banjo has been awarded an MBE after a year in which he campaigned heavily on behalf of racial equality.

The dancer and choreographer said he was “humbled and extremely proud” to receive the honour, having been named in the New Year Honours list for services to dance.

“I’m so humbled and extremely proud to be receiving this honour,” Banjo said.

“It really is the ultimate accolade. It’s something I never saw coming and for my mum and dad to see this moment means the world.”

Banjo, 33, rose to fame in 2009 as part of dance troupe Diversity while competing on TV show Britain’s Got Talent, which they eventually won.

In 2020, Diversity made headlines for their return to the ITV show, on which they performed a Black Lives Matter-inspired routine where Banjo was knelt on by a man dressed in police uniform. The moment echoed the recent killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in the US.

Ofcom later dismissed more than 24,000 complaints about the performance, having found that its central message was “a call for social cohesion and unity”.

Diversity’s routine later won the Must-See Moment award at the 2021 TV Baftas.

Last year, Banjo replaced Simon Cowell as a BGT judge after the music mogul injured himself while riding an electric bike.

In July 2021, he spoke out against the racist abuse aimed at England’s Black football players following their defeat to Italy in the Euros final.

In October, he presented Ashley Banjo: Britain in Black and White, which explored the reaction to the Diversity routine on Britain’s Got Talent.

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