Fans travelled from as far as Canada and Argentina mark the anniversary.
By Gemma Peplow, entertainment reporter
Thursday 8 August 2019 19:03, UK
Beatlemania has returned to Abbey Road, 50 years on from the camera clicking on the image that would go on to become one of the most famous album covers ever created.
Tribute act Fab Gear followed in the footsteps of their heroes Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison to re-enact the iconic zebra crossing photograph as about 2,500 fans cheered them on.
Traffic stopped, musicians played and sang their favourite Beatles hits – and there was even a proposal of marriage from one of the Fab Four.
Such was the sense of occasion for lifelong Beatles fan Joe Kane, who performs as Paul, he decided to get down on one knee, right in the middle of the crossing, to pop the question to his now fiancee, Lindsay Humphreys.
“This is one of the best days of my life because The Beatles have been my favourite band since I was a kid and I learned to play music because of them,” he told Sky News. “To do this is incredibly special.
“We drove up and we were mobbed with photographers, which doesn’t happen every day. I’m still taking it in. As a Beatles fan, to be involved is just mind-blowing.
“And I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes!”
Fans travelled from all over the world to mark the anniversary, with one man saying he had travelled on a plane for the first time to make the journey from Canada, while others from America, Mexico, Argentina, Japan and Australia also joined the crowds.
Ruben Mata, 39, made the Abbey Road pilgrimage with his parents Rodolfo and Dolores, all the way from Mexico
“I vividly remember a black girl saying at training that the reason black girls don’t swim is because of their hair.
“I was about 12 or 13 at the time and had never thought of the idea of hair stopping you from swimming. Now that I am older I can fully understand why someone would quit over their hair.”
Alice Dearing, a 22-year-old student at Loughborough University, is one of Great Britain’s top female marathon swimmers.
She’s also currently the only black swimmer on Team GB and is only the second to represent them in the water.
“It sounds ludicrous but it can be really damaging to your self-image and confidence as chlorine wrecks hair. But it’s even harder for girls with thicker hair, which the majority of black girls have.”
Alice has represented Team GB at numerous international competitions including two World Championships. She’s English and Ghanaian and seeing someone like her in the sport at this standard is rare.
The BBC sent a Freedom of Information request to Swim England asking how many competitive swimmers who are registered with them identify as black or mixed race. The national governing body responded saying just 668 out of 73,000.
It comes as Swim England has told the BBC it’s seen a rise in the number of BAME people swimming recreationally over the past few years.
Swimming can actually be more damaging to afro hair than non-afro hair, because of a substance used in swimming pools called sodium hypochlorite, more commonly known as bleach.
“Afro hair is naturally drier than other hair because it has less cell layers, which means it doesn’t retain as much moisture,” says Shirley McDonald a consultant trichologist at The Institute of Trichologists in London.
“Sodium hypochlorite can cause excess dryness leading to damage if the hair is not washed and conditioned after swimming – and so afro hair is likely to suffer more quickly because of its structure.”
Team GB’s swimming squad had one of its most successful international competitions at this summer’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The team finished seventh in the medal table with seven medals – three gold, one silver and three bronze.
Alice placed in the top 20 in the women’s open water 10k race.
“I like to think I represent black competitive swimmers in the UK who may often feel out of place – as I sometimes did during my early years,” she said.
Diversity in swimming has always been limited not just in the UK but on a global scale.
Hair isn’t the only factor in this. It’s an expensive sport that has historically meant racial segregation and discrimination in countries like South Africa and the United States.
BBC World Service spent some time with swimmers from Howard University at the Black History Month invitation in Washington DC for The Documentary Podcast, Black Girls Don’t Swim. It’s the only historically black university in America that has a men and women’s swim team.
Chandler Carter is a member of the women’s team: “I know loads of girls who quit swimming because of their hair.”
“It can be really hard because in the summer you see your friends popping with fresh braids and long weaves and I just have to have my hair natural or get ‘bob braids’ because that’s all that fits under the swim cap.
“But you get used to it.”
Latroya Pina is also on the team and also competed at the world championships representing Cape Verde. Although she understands the difficulty of balancing hair and swimming she thinks it’s worth it.
“One of the best things about being at Howard is if I’m having a bad hair day and struggling to put my cap on I look at the girls and see them struggling too and we’re all struggling together.”
Of course there are some swimmers who have been highly successful regardless. In 2016, American Simone Manuel became the first black female swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal in Rio. In total she won two golds and two silvers at the games.
Ebony Rosemond is the founder of Black Kids Swim, a non-profit organisation offering guidance and information for black swimmers and their families in the US.
She’s also aware of the factors behind why the sport tends to see fewer black competitive swimmers, especially women.
“The two main reasons I hear as to why we don’t see as many black girls in the sport is inherited fear of the water and hair. Hair is extremely important to young black girls.”
“For a very long time, black women have been told that there’s something wrong with their hair, and even today we can see the impact of that message.”
“We lose a lot of girls around 10 years old because they want their hair to look a certain way.”
The importance of hair to black women is reflected in their spending on hair products. According to a report in the Huffington Post, in 2017 the UK black hair industry was worth an estimated £88 million with black women on average spending three times more than white women on hair care.
Even though there are only a small number of black and mixed race swimmers competing in the sport in the UK, Alice hopes she can make a difference.
“I’m not a high profile swimmer but I hope the little bits of coverage I get through the media help encourage other people of colour who wouldn’t normally take part in swimming to go get lessons, or join a club or even just splash around with friends.”
A Swim England spokesperson said: “Swim England is working to understand the challenges and barriers to swimming and other aquatic activity through the project Barriers to Swimming.”
It says the project aims to understand the barriers that communities have in making swimming and other aquatic activities a regular habit.
(CNN) Two countries issued travel warnings to their citizens about the United States following two mass shootings that killed 31 people.
Both Venezuela and Uruguay warned their residents about violence and hate crimes in the United States Monday.
Uruguay’s Office of Foreign Ministry issued an advisory Monday saying citizens should “take precaution amid the growing indiscriminatory violence, specifically hate crimes including racism and discrimination” when traveling to the United States.
The alert noted that other factors, such as the “indiscriminate possession of firearms by the population” and the “impossibility of authorities to prevent these situations,” were among some of the reasons travelers need to be particularly wary of highly populated areas or events.
Uruguay’s warning also suggested avoiding the cities of Detroit, Baltimore and Albuquerque, as they were listed as part of the 20 most dangerous cities in the world according to the CEOworld Magazine 2019 index.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry office also issued a warning to its residents Monday, saying Venezuelans should postpone their travels or exercise caution when traveling as a result of the events in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
The statement posted by the Foreign Ministry said that the “recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes” need to be considered by those planning to travel into the US.
“These increasing acts of violence have found an echo and support in the conversations and actions impregnated by racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed by the supremacist elite who holds political power in Washington,” the statement read in part.
According to the statement, one of the main reasons for the violent acts in the US is the “inexcusable indiscriminate possession of fire arms by the population, encouraged by the federal government.”
April, the US State Department gave Venezuela its highest travel advisory, Level 4: Do Not Travel, citing crime, civil unrest and the arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens.
Venezuela was ranked as the most dangerous country in the world for the second straight year, according to a Gallup survey in 2018. It is one of 13 countries issued the highest advisory.