“A lot of the things I said way back 40-odd years ago is happening now. But now things are changing and its wonderful.
She said “change will never happen that is going to be lasting change unless everybody is in it together”.
Floella, 71, grew up with her five siblings in Trinidad where she was taught about Britain being the land of hope and glory, its heroes and cultures but “not about my own sadly”.
And when her parents were among the Windrush generation, answering the call to work in the mother country, Baroness Benjamin said they entered “the lion’s den” and suffered daily racial abuse.
She added: “As a 10-year-old child walking down the street knowing which grown man would be calling you a name or being horrible to you. It’s tough being black, it’s tough having to face that especially as a child, but it makes you resilient.”
She was not served in shops but would not leave because her mum would say: “Go back to the shop until they serve you.”
Floella told Lauren Laverne that her mum, who died of bowel cancer in 2009, had said adversity should make her stronger.
Play School changed her life but she said: “I remember saying to the producer back in 1976, ‘All the illustrations that you have on the screen when I tell a story are all of white children. Why can’t we have some black, and Asian and Chinese faces?’ Because I wanted the children out there to feel that they belong to that culture.”
She added they were changed the next day. Her TV career also included BBC’s Play Away, where she appeared with Brian Cant.
Floella became a peer in 2010 and was Chancellor of Exeter University for 10 years, stepping down in 2016. The baroness hit it off with the Queen over lunch at the university in 2012. Floella told of her childhood in Trinidad and the racial abuse she suffered.
She said: “It was a great occasion and interestingly when she left I found a white feather, that meant my mum was looking down on me saying, ‘There’s my little girl, who would’ve thought, eh?’”
●Desert Island Discs, today, 11am, BBC Radio 4