Leaders of movements, revolutions, in politics, in our communities

By Kate Thomas

Statues are there for us to be reminded of ‘the great and the good’. Often, and in this case, with dishonesty, avoiding inconvenient truths. It’s what is omitted when the memorial words are carved into the plinth on which the statue stands. So this is in memory of omissions. Winston Churchill held deeply offensive racist views, and often his actions were devastating. Statues for him should be in museums and not on the streets.

Bengal Famine

People in Bengal have experienced famines over the centuries because the monsoons failed. The famine in 1943 that killed 3 million people was man-made. Reported in the Guardian Churchill’s policies contributed to 1943 Bengal famine – study 29th March 2019:

“This was a unique famine, caused by policy failure instead of any monsoon failure,” said Vimal Mishra, the lead researcher and an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.

This conclusion was drawn during the studies of famines in Bengal between 1873 and 1943. All previous famines had been linked directly to soil moisture deficit and crop failures

Despite food shortages, the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen argued in 1981 that there should still have been enough supplies to feed the region, and that the mass deaths came about as a combination of wartime inflation, speculative buying and panic hoarding, which together pushed the price of food out of the reach of poor Bengalis.

Rice stocks continued to leave India even as London was denying urgent requests from India’s viceroy for more than 1m tonnes of emergency wheat supplies in 1942-43. Churchill has been quoted as blaming the famine on the fact Indians were “breeding like rabbits”, and asking how, if the shortages were so bad, Mahatma Gandhi was still alive.

This is now known as the ‘Denial Policy’. See Wikipedia Bengal Famine of 1943.

Amartya Sen puts it well:

“Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat. While the latter can be a cause of the former, it is but one of many possible causes. Whether and how starvation relates to food supply is a matter for factual investigation.”

The Wire also has a good article, Past Continuous: The Deep Impact of the Bengal Famine on the Indian Psyche.

Eugenics

Winston Churchill wrote in December 1910:

“The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the Feeble-Minded and Insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate.”

“But with the advances in medical science and medical ethics, fewer and fewer categories of “…..persons suffering … from mental disorder” were considered needy of detention. Causes such as food and nutritional deficiency, poverty and deprivation, abuse and neglect, were identified as among the reasons-and early diagnosis, medication, therapy, community care and family support systems as the methods of treatment-of what was considered, at the time of Churchill’s support for eugenics before the First World War, as hereditary “feeble-mindedness” with no cure.

Churchill on Eugenics from the Winston Churchill website

Churchill drafted the Mental Deficiency Act 1913. Only 3 MPs voted against the bill, including Josiah Wedgewood who said,“monstrous violation” [of individual rights] and when arguing in Parliament called it, “legislation for the sake of a scientific creed which in ten years may be discredited.” The ideas around the false science of eugenics were unfortunately belived by many of the the ruling and upper classes in Britain and the America.

“It was a British man, not a German, who first came up with the term eugenics in 1883. Francis Galton was a cousin of Charles Darwin and he became obsessed with Origin of Species, especially its chapter on the breeding of domestic animals. This inspired him to spend much of his life studying the variations in human ability. He wrote: “The question was then forced upon me. Could not the race of men be similarly improved? Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?”

New Statesman The eugenics movement Britain wants to forget 9th December 2010

Racist Attitudes

Unless otherwise stated, quotes are taken from The 10 greatest controversies of Winston Churchill’s career BBC 26th January 2015:

On Palestine

In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission: “I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

About Ghandi

Most students of India’s fight for independence may only be aware of Churchill’s famous 1931 remarks on Gandhi, when he went to meet the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, in his usual dress. Churchill had said: “It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle [Inner] Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”

From the M. K. Ghandi website Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill

Mesopotamia Conflict 1922

With the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and Afghans, Churchill said:

“I cannot understand this squeamishness about the use of gas,” he wrote in his memo May 12th 1919 during his role as minister for war and air in 1919….I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.” 

Anti-Semitism

A supporter of Zionism, Churchill still managed to hold racist views against Jewish people.

In a press release announcing a book by Richard Toye on Churchill and Lloyd George, Cambridge University Press put its main emphasis on the discovery of a previously unknown article written by Winston Churchill in 1937, containing considerable anti-Semitic imagery.

The 1937 article, “How the Jews Can Combat Persecution,” was “unearthed by Dr. Richard Toye, a Cambridge University historian,” according to The Independent. “Written three years before Churchill became Prime Minister, the article has apparently lain unnoticed in the Churchill Archives at Cambridge since the early months of the Second World War.

“Churchill criticised the ‘aloofness’ of Jewish people from wider society and urged them to make the effort to integrate themselves….Churchill says: ‘The central fact which dominates the relations of Jew and non-Jew is that the Jew is “different.” He looks different. He thinks differently. He has a different tradition and background.’ He then criticises Jewish moneylenders: ‘Every Jewish money-lender recalls Shylock and the idea of the Jews as usurers. And you cannot reasonably expect a struggling clerk or shopkeeper, paying 40 or 50 per cent interest on borrowed money to a “Hebrew Bloodsucker,” to reflect that almost every other way of life was closed to the Jewish people.’”

Winston Churchill website Myth and Reality – What Did Churchill Really Think About the Jews?

On the 7th June 2020, Black Lives Matter protestors toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it in Bristol dock.

What Colston’s Statue Omitted to Say

In 1680 Edward Colston invested in the Royal Africa Company (RAC) established twenty years earlier in 1660 and set up by King Charles II and the City of London merchants. According to historian William Pettigrew the company:

“shipped more enslaved African women, men and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade.”

Britain itself was responsible for a quarter of the 12 million enslaved African people during the Atlantic Slave Trade.

All investors would have known about the RAC activities, how they were making their profits. He was there at the outset and was there when merchants took over from the King in Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. According to Wikipedia:

During Colston’s involvement with the Royal African Company from 1680 to 1692 it is estimated that the company transported over 84,000 African men, women and children to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas, of whom as many as 19,000 may have died on the journey.

From 1692 to 1708 Colston carried on trading in enslaved Africans privately.

It is reasonable that a statue representing enslavement and murder should be taken down. Colston represents the loss of life, brutality, murder and the enslavement of people. No civilised people for example would erect a statue to the serial killers in neighbouring Gloucester, Rosemary and Fred West, then why a statue of Edward Colston?

The wealth that Colston had accumulated through the slave trade may have built the City Of Bristol, but surely the lives of people are worth more than property! As a society we have a disconnect.

Four people have been charged with toppling and dumping into the dock a statue of Edward Colston, they have been charged with damage to property estimated at £3,750. A bit of metal! Not flesh, but metal.

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, will appear before Bristol magistrates court on 25 January for the first hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Property! Lets think on this. What is more important? Human beings, the enslavment of people that Colston was involved in? Or a bit of metal? Honestly, as humans we’ll come to the right conclusion, or will we?

David Hughson, writing in 1808, described Colston as:

“the great benefactor of the city of Bristol, who, in his lifetime, expended more than 70,000L. [£] in charitable institutions”.

The Colston Society, which had operated for 275 years commemorating Colston, latterly as a charity, decided to disband in 2020.

Things change.

Jen Reid Statue by Sculptor Mark Quin

Mr Rees, the city’s elected mayor, said removing, the new statue was “critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the [Colston] statue being pulled down, those who sympathise with its removal… and those who feel that in its removal, they’ve lost a piece of the Bristol they know”.

Jen Reid Statue – Black Lives Matter temprarily on Colston plinth

1948 – 1969

Fred Hampton was one of the most gifted civil rights speakers since Martin Luther King. His natural ability to draw empathy and agreement across the multi ethnic community in the USA frightened the government and its enforcers – he had to be stopped by any means possible.

For a generation of Chicagoans, their opinion of what happened in 1969 when Chicago police raided the West Side apartment of Black Panther Party members depended greatly on what neighborhood they called home.

For the public at large, it was as police officials described: a dramatic gunfight launched against police by violent black nationalists that left two dead and four wounded.

But for others, particularly socially conscious African Americans, the December 4th raid on the two-flat at 2337 West Monroe Street was a cold-blooded execution of Black Panthers leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, ordered by federal authorities eager to snuff out burgeoning black leadership.

Officially, the Cook County state’s attorney’s 4:30 a.m. raid by 14 Chicago police officers began as the execution of a search warrant to turn up weapons and explosives that they feared black power group was supposedly hoarding inside.

But it didn’t take long for the police’s version of events — that Black Panther members opened fire first on officers knocking on the door — to be challenged.

Survivors described a far more frightening scene: Officers armed with shotguns and rifles opening fire on sleeping Black Panther members inside, among them Hampton’s pregnant fiancee. A special federal grand jury determined that police sprayed 82 to 99 gunshots through doors, walls and windows while just one shot appeared to have been fired by someone inside.

Clark was killed in early gunfire, but survivors Harold Bell and Hampton’s fiancee, Akua Njeri, then known as Debra Johnson, testified at the 1972 criminal trial against the state’s attorney and officers in the raid that Hampton was pulled alive from his bed and shot dead after the group had surrendered. Later, an FBI whistleblower said the agency coaxed local law enforcement across the country, including Chicago police, into deadly clashes with heavily armed Black Panthers.

In 1983, a federal judge approved a settlement that awarded $1.85 million to survivors of the raid and families of the two men who were killed, to be paid by the federal government, the city of Chicago and Cook County.

Historian Clayborne Carson, director of Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, said the Black Panthers’ fast rise during 1960s was due to their leadership’s ability to speak to young black disenfranchisement.

“What the Black Panthers did was take that generation of young people who were disturbed by what was happening in the black community and developed a political answer,” said Carson, who has written extensively on the Black Panthers, King and Malcolm X.

“The Black Panther Party had dynamic leadership that drew people to it, and Fred Hampton was a wonderful example of that. He would have made a wonderful leader.”

Carson and G. Flint Taylor, a longtime Chicago attorney who has worked on cases involving the use of excessive force by police, said modern movements like Black Lives Matter that address police brutality have taken up the mantle of the Black Panthers. Taylor also represented the Hampton and Clark families in the 13-year civil lawsuit.

If the 1969 deaths were meant to stall black leadership in Chicago, Taylor said the outrage by activists across racial lines over Hampton and Clark’s deaths helped lay the political groundwork that:

“led in a straight line to the voting out of (State’s Attorney Edward) Hanrahan in 1972 … and of course, that political movement became the underpinnings of the movement,” to elect Harold Washington as the city’s first black mayor and later Barack Obama, as the nation’s first black president.

Decades later, the West Side killings could still divide the city and cause tempers to flare. In 2006, a West Side alderman proposed naming a section of Monroe Street as Chairman Fred Hampton Way. The proposal, which initially flew under the public radar, soon raised the ire of the local police union and the relatives of fallen police officers. They claimed police were merely pushing back against violent militants who encouraged armed resistance.

“It’s a dark day when we honor someone who would advocate killing policemen and who took great advantage of the communities he claimed to have been serving,” the Fraternal Order of Police president said at the time. Weeks before the 1969 raid, a gunbattle had left two Chicago officers and one Black Panther member dead.

The attempt to rename the street failed, aggravating past scars and showing that the:

“echoes of that turbulent era still reverberate in a city still divided by race and class,” writer and commentator Salim Muwakkil wrote in 2006.

Deeper implications

The raid also led to one of the biggest embarrassments in Tribune history, as “exclusive details” and photos ran in the newspaper that purportedly showed bullet holes fired by Black Panther members but were later determined to be just nail heads. Afterward, the Tribune dispatched pioneering black reporter Joseph Boyce to interview friends, family and loved ones of Hampton and Clark.

But the event had deeper implications for the city beyond ending the rising political career of Hanrahan.

On the doorstep of a new decade, Hampton and Clark’s deaths effectively ended the city’s 1960s counterculture movement and fulfilled FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s goal of disrupting the local Black Panthers. Clark and Hampton were the 27th and 28th Panthers slain that year, while, in coming years, dozens of other leaders and members, including Bobby Seale, Geronimo Pratt and Angela Davis were imprisoned or were on the run from the law. Remaining leadership called members to Oakland to refocus their efforts. By 1982, the Black Panther Party, which was beset by infighting and criminal activities within its ranks, had been dissolved and ceased operation.

The wrongful death lawsuit, aided by more openness from the FBI following Hoover’s death and changing public attitudes toward authority spurred by Watergate, helped lift the lid on the FBI’s long-running dirty tricks campaign against the group and the individuals it considered dissident.

The agency’s infamous COINTELPRO, or counterintelligence program, tracked, spied on and used subterfuge against targets from the Reverand Martin Luther King Junior to the Ku Klux Klan. In 1976, the FBI first admitted its role in the Chicago raid in a New York Times article that described the program as:

“Mr. Hoover’s once‐secret effort to watch, harass and discredit thousands of Americans whose politics he opposed.”

Perhaps more shocking, a Senate report further acknowledged that Hoover’s FBI, in trying to prevent violence from black power groups:

“itself engaged in lawless tactics and responded to deep-seated social problems by fomenting violence and unrest.”

In one such attempt to raise rancor between the Black Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers street gang, the FBI formulated a plan to send a note to Blackstone leader Jeff Fort, purportedly by an anonymous black gang member, claiming the Panthers had put a “hit” on him, a 1976 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities revealed.

“Some of those activities were clearly wrong and quite indefensible,” a successor to Hoover said. “We most certainly must never allow them to be repeated.”

Preventing the ‘rise of a messiah’

Started by black Oakland college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense attracted great interest and membership in cities across the country.

Dressed in black berets and leather jackets and easily recognizable with their raised fist and chant of “power to the people,” teenagers and young adults, male and female, were drawn by messages of black empowerment and armed resistance against police violence. The group also instituted breakfast programs for children and medical clinics for the poor.

But where black youth saw inspiration, Hoover saw:

“the greatest threat to internal security of the country” and promised to neutralize the group by year’s end.

The Illinois Black Panther Party found fertile ground on Chicago’s West Side, which grappled with issues of white flight, gang strife, limited job opportunities and conflict between residents and police.

Enter Hampton, a 21-year-old Maywood man, whose charisma and popular support among young activists led them to call him, “chairman” as a sign of respect. Born in southwest suburban Summit and an honors graduate at Proviso East High School, Hampton led a successful campaign to have a non-segregated pool for youngsters built in his hometown. But it was his electric presence and magnetic personality that raised the membership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) suburban youth chapter from seven to 700.

Historians say police brutality and early tangles with the establishment drew him away from the NAACP and toward the Illinois Black Panther Party, which opened an office on West Madison Street in November 1968. Hampton gained further recognition by negotiating a truce between his group and Blackstone Rangers and Black Disciples street gangs that May. Hampton was seen as a successor to leadership as bosses were killed or put in prison. He was joined by Mark Clark, 22, described as a shy, lanky would-be actor who led the Peoria chapter.

By July 1969, the Black Panthers had become the primary focus of the FBI’s COINTELPRO tactics, as Hoover sought to prevent the “rise of a messiah that would unify and electrify the militant nationalist movement” and gain public respectability, according to the Senate report. Leading up to the raid, the FBI and police also arrested Hampton and other Black Panther members in a deliberate effort to publicly discredit the group, the report added.

During court proceedings, it was later revealed that William O’Neal, a car thief, had been turned into a paid informant by the FBI. As the Black Panthers’ security guard, O’Neal provided his FBI handlers with details of the group’s inner workings and floor plans of Hampton’s apartment prior to the raid. FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen became the agency’s first whistleblower in 1977, claiming first to government lawyers and later in a 1995 book that the FBI set up Chicago police to kill the Panthers, warning the officers they’d be met with guns blazing.

Taylor, the families’ civil attorney, rejected any suggestions that Chicago police were anything except:

“willing partners,” in the slayings. “They weren’t duped into this raid,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t just a shooting … it was a political assassination that came from Washington and the COINTEL program and J. Edgar Hoover.”

Hanrahan, an assistant and 12 officers present at the raid were indicted, but later acquitted. Hanrahan was forced out and never regained public office. Young Black Panthers member Bobby Rush became an alderman and eventually a U.S. congressman.

Bobby Rush in his own words in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and the rise in the Black Lives Matter movement

In 1990, O’Neal, who’d returned to Chicago in the mid-1980s after a stint in federal witness protection, was struck by a car when he ran across the Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood in an apparent suicide.

The Assassination of Fred Hampton

How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther (Extract)

The life and murder of Fred Hampton as told by Jeffrey Haas, co-founder of the People’s Law Office and attorney for the plaintiffs in the federal suit Hampton v. Hanrahan.

On the morning of December 4, 1969, lawyer Jeffrey Haas received a call from his partner at the People’s Law Office, informing him that early that morning Chicago police had raided the apartment of Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton at 2337 West Monroe Street in Chicago.

Tragically, Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark had both been shot dead, and four other Panthers in the apartment had critical gunshot wounds. Police were uninjured and had fired their guns 90-99 times. In sharp contrast, the Panthers had shot once, from the shotgun held by Mark Clark, which had most likely been fired after Clark had been fatally shot in the heart and was falling to the ground.

Haas went straight to the police station to speak with Hampton’s fiancée, Deborah Johnson, who was then eight months pregnant with Hampton’s son. She had been sleeping in bed next to Hampton when the police attacked and began shooting into the apartment and towards the bedroom where they were sleeping. Miraculously, Johnson had not been shot, but her account given to Haas was chilling. Throughout the assault Hampton had remained unconscious (strong evidence emerged later that a paid FBI informant had given Hampton a sedative that prevented him from waking up) and after police forced Johnson out of the bedroom, two officers entered the room where Hampton still lay unconscious. Johnson heard one officer ask, “Is he still alive?” After two gunshots were fired inside the room, the other officer said, “He’s good and dead now.”

Mark Clark (1947 – 1969)

The killing of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, in a pre-dawn raid coordinated by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, the Chicago police, and the FBI, was a major incident in the repression of the Black Power Movement. A less well-known victim of that raid was the 22-year-old, Peoria-born Mark Clark, who had come to Chicago to attend an Illinois-wide meeting of party leaders. On the night of the raid he was on security duty in the front room of Hampton’s apartment and was shot in the heart when authorities stormed the apartment.

Mark was the brother of Richard Pryor’s close friend Matt Clark, and had been — at four years old — the youngest member ever of Juliette Whittaker’s acting company, the Carver Players. After working as a teenager with his family in the town’s local NAACP chapter, he had founded the Peoria chapter of the Black Panther Party.

John Gwynn, president of the Peoria and Illinois chapters of the NAACP, recalled that:

“all of the Clark brothers were participating. All were alert and pretty much read up on the issues.” He added that Mark “could call for order when older persons or adults could not.”

“He was a nonconformist,” his sister Eleanor said. “He was the type of person who, regardless of whether anyone went along with his ideas…he was going to do what was right and appropriate.”

The Clark family was never notified by law enforcement officials of the shooting, according to the Tribune.

Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, are gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle (not true) with members of the Black Panther Party.

However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side. In addition, the “bullet holes” in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers.

The raid, which had been led by Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, was only one of many attempts by the government to weaken the Black Power movement. Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had been battling civil rights activists and other minority leaders for years with their COINTELPRO program, whose purpose, according to one FBI document, was to:

“expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralise the activities of black nationalist hate type organisations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters.”

Although the FBI was not responsible for leading this particular raid, a federal grand jury indicated that the bureau played a significant role in the events leading up to the raid; Hanrahan had utilised information provided by FBI informant William O’Neal, who was third in command of the Chicago Panthers, to plan his attack.

Director of ‘Voice4Change’  – Film Buff and Historian

By Rob Burns

Kunle Olulode is a pro-immigration activist and Director of the umbrella charity Voice4Change England. Voice4Change is a BME charity and support body. Its members number over 460 black and minority community organisations and charities covering everything from education, social enterprise, criminal justice, race discrimination to migrant rights.

Currently it is working with a host of leading campaigning and research organisation such as the Runnymede Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Community Trust and Migrant Rights Network, looking at the media framing of the discourse on diversity, race and inclusion within contemporary political debates.

Olulode believes it’s time to develop a new narrative around race equality away from deficit models. Working in a sector that eats, sleeps and breathes identity politics, he is acutely aware of how a lack of diversity in thought is crippling serious debate on social policy issues including Brexit. More recently, he worked with Catholics for Choice and a range of African civil society organisations, thinkers and politicians in exploring issues of secularism, burkini bans and what a 21st Century ‘African Enlightenment’ might look like.

In support of the ‘Migration Museum’ he said:

“economic hardship, the struggle for opportunity and the demand for equal rights have been central to the migration narrative. But this story is also bursting with creativity, joy, resilience and an unquenchable desire for individual and collective self-improvement”, adding “an institution which aims to capture this experience should be celebrated as a national reference point. That’s what I hope the Migration Museum will be for people of all backgrounds”.

Kunle Olulode also has a long-standing interest in arts development. He was the creative director of the Anglo-Spanish arts group Rebop Productions which, for over 20 years plus, was involved in the seed development of a whole host of British and American musicians connected to artists such as Amy Winehouse, Neneh Cherry and Hip-Hop heads, The Roots. His time in Catalonia also included the founding of the legendary WTF Jam sessions at the Jamboree Club Barcelona.

A keen film buff and film historian, he is known for his ground-breaking work on jazz and modernism in art, presented as part of the Miro season at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2012. He is part of South Bank’s BFI’s African Odyssey programming board responsible for last 2018’s Black and Banned Season; which examined censorship in black film, art and sport. He has high hopes for director Julius Amedume’s 2019 film ‘Rattlesnakes’, the first thriller to capture well the transatlantic neuroses on race chipping away at contemporary society here and the US.

Kunle is a regular contributor to Radio London, Al Jazeera, Sky and RT on debates relating to politics the arts, diversity and race.

Life peer and community activist

By Rob Burns

Baroness Howells of St David, OBE was the first black woman to sit on the GLC’s Training Board; the first female member of the Court of Governors of the University of Greenwich and was the Vice Chair at the London Voluntary Services Council.

Baroness Rosalind Patricia-Anne Howells was born in 1931 and was raised to the peerage as Baroness Howells of St David, of Charlton in the London Borough of Greenwich in 1999.

She was educated at St Joseph’s Convent, South West London College and City College in Washington DC. In 1955, she married John Charles Howells and they have two daughters.

Howells served as the Director of the Greenwich Racial Equality Council as well as a Community and Equal Opportunities Worker. Baroness Howells is a trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, and served as the unofficial advisor to Stephen Lawrence’s family.

Howells was the first black woman to sit on the GLC’s Training Board; the first female member of the Court of Governors of the University of Greenwich and was the Vice Chair at the London Voluntary Service Council. She has worked with the Carnival Liaison Committee, the Greater London Action in Race Equality, and has been an active campaigner for justice in the field of race relations. She is a Trustee of the Jason Roberts Foundation, which aims to provide a range of sporting opportunities for children and young people in the United Kingdom and Grenada.

National Portrait Gallery: Baroness Valerie Amos of Brondesbury – Baroness Rosalind Howells of St Davids – Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal by Robert Taylor cibachrome print 27 January 2000

In March 2009 she was inaugurated as the Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire in Luton. Baroness Howells is a trustee of St George’s University’s UK Trust and serves on the board of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the research institute affiliated with St. George’s University, the medical university that is part of the University of London.

She has worked with the London Voluntary Services Council, Carnival Liaison Committee, and the Greater London Action in Race Equality and has been an active campaigner for justice in the field of race relations.

Read more about Baroness Rosalind Howells in Operation Black Voice and in her Parliamentary career and in her own words:

By Rob Burns

Arike Oke is the Managing Director for Black Cultural Archives (BCA), the home of Black British history. She’s worked in heritage for over 15 years, from the seminal Connecting Histories project in Birmingham, to building Wellcome Collection’s archive, and co-convening Hull’s first Black History Month.

She is a board member for the National Archives’ strategic Unlocking Archives initiative, and is a fellow of the Arts Council’s Museums and Resilient Leadership programme. She is a published author of academic articles and a keynote speaker on heritage practice, a noted cultural leader and a passionate advocate for centreing community and people at the heart of debates, policy and practice.

Black Cultural Archives grew from a community response to the New Cross Massacre (1981), the notorious Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984), which to this day nearly 40 years on gives rascist police officers the power to ‘stop and search’, and where they have disproportionately targetted black people; underachievement of Black children in British schools, the failings of the Race Relations Act 1976, and the negative impacts of racism against, and a lack of popular recognition of, and representation by people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK.

Founded by educator Len Garrison, Black Cultural Archives’ is dedicated to enhancing and promoting education.

Their team is committed to documenting, teaching and the development of educational resources about the history of Black Britain.

As the UK’s only dedicated heritage centre they provide extensive learning programmes of exhibitions, courses, school workshops, lectures, public events and a dynamic youth forum. Education is the heart of Black Cultural Archives

Their vast archive collection contains over 2,000 records reflecting the long history of Black presence in Britain. Some of the materials include early Roman records of North African Emperor Septimius Severus and pre-colonial maps of Africa and antique newspaper of the 1700s. The collection also contains records from modern history including that of African and Caribbean soldiers in World Wars I & II, resistance movements and pressure groups of the twentieth century.

Their schools programme and unique learning approach give pupils deeper insight into how the past shapes ideas about the present and future. We are offer a vast range of teaching resources, interactive school workshops and training courses to support schools across the country.

When Arike Oke was appointed director in February 2019 she said,

“BCA is the home of Black British history, a beacon and a promise. We have got this far, we’ve got our building, we’ve got our foundational collections. Now it’s time to establish our voice and to return to our founding purpose. We can correct the omissions and erasures in British history. We can make sure that Black British people have a voice in the national agenda. We can support new and emerging talent. We can be part of the community, as a platform and collaborator”.

Photo: Doug Brown (second left standing) and Roy Brown (at the top)

Doug Brown & Roy Brown’s father, Eugene and his brother John came to England from the Ghana, West Africa, they were students. They decided to join the British Army when WW1 broke out.  John was killed and Eugene badly injured but after the war he got married and had two sons.  Eugene later died of his war injuries and the boys were raised by their mother, an English Woman from Stoke-on-Trent.

Roy Brown was a talented footballer and he was signed by Stoke City on leaving school at 14. The Second World War interrupted his football career although he did play for the club in the Football Regional League. He made his debut in 1941 and played a few games before joining the armed services.

Roy Brown – Stoke City Football Club

The league did not resume until the 1946-47 season. Brown scored 14 goals in 74 games for Stoke City. In 1953 he was transferred to Watford in Division Three (South). Over the next few years he scored 40 goals in 142 games.

World War II

During World War II Doug Brown trained as a physiotherapist to help in the recovery of injured soldiers. He continued this work in the newly formed National Health Service.

In 1960 Doug became the physio for Stoke City. His Brother, Roy had played for Stoke city as a young man.

Doug Brown at The Staffordshire Ladsandads Club

In 1967 Doug set up the first “Lads-and-dads” matches on local school football pitches, which had previously been closed at weekends.
For his work with Lads and Dads he was nominated by Footballers Garth Crooks and Robbie Earle (Both originally from Stoke on Trent) for the BBC People’s Awards.

The same year Doug became an independent councillor, later joining the Labour Party.

He was appointed Lord Mayor in 1984 and then later helped to set up “Match Mates” to help combat Hooliganism. Princess Diana presented Doug with an award for his work in this area.

In 1997 he was appointed as Lord Mayor for the second time.

Doug Received an honorary degree from Keele University in recognition of his lifetime’s service to young people. He was a Justice of the Peace, President of the North Staffordshire Chinese Community.

Honorary member of the Grenadier Guards. Chairman of the board of governors at Sutherland primary school in Blurton (for 22 years).

Read more about Doug Brown and here

Read more about Roy Brown

Bill Morris was born in Bombay, Jamaica in 1938 and lived with his parents (his mother was a domestic science teacher, his father a part-time policeman) in a small rural village, Cheapside, Manchester, Jamaica. He was educated at nearby Mizpah School where his ambition was to play cricket for the West Indies.

His plans to attend a prestigious agricultural college had to be rethought in 1954, when he joined his recently widowed mother in Britain, living in the Handsworth district of Birmingham.

The cultural differences were considerable – as was the weather – but he coped with the snow and the rain and started work at the Birmingham engineering company, Hardy Spicers, attending day-release courses in engineering skills at Handsworth Technical College. He later married and had two sons, Garry and Clyde, and now has two grandchildren, Una and Rohan. His wife, Minetta, died in 1990.

Morris’s trade union life began in 1958 when he joined the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G). He was elected a shop steward at Hardy Spicers in 1963 and the following year he was involved in his first major industrial dispute, over the issue of trade union recognition.

He held a wide range of elected positions within the T&G, including membership of its governing body, the General Executive Council. He also took advantage of the T&G’s considerable education programme, learning about trade unions, labour history and industrial law and health and safety.

He was appointed a full-time T&G Officer in 1973, as Nottingham/Derby District Organiser, and later as Northampton District Secretary. In 1979 he was appointed National Secretary for the Passenger Services Trade Group, responsible for leading national negotiations in the bus and coach industries.

He became Deputy General Secretary in 1986 and, as a result of a change in the law, was confirmed in the position by postal ballot four years later. His industrial duties included executive responsibility for the union’s four transport sectors, the car industry, energy and engineering and white collar workers. He was also responsible for the union’s educational activities, equal opportunities and development of policies and services for women and young members.

In 1991, Morris was elected General Secretary of the T&G by a postal ballot of members. He was the first Black general secretary of a trade union and arguably one of the most influential black people in Britain. But he made it clear he did not wish to be known or judged as a black General Secretary: as he said at the time of his election:

“I am not the Black candidate, rather the candidate who is black.”

In 1995 he was re-elected to the post of General Secretary.

Morris served on a wide range of national bodies including the Advisory Councils of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), and was appointed to the Economic and Social Affairs Committee of the European Union.

For a number of years he was a member of the Labour Party’s Conference Arrangements Committee and for ten years he was a member of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Labour MP Bernie Grant was one of the most charismatic black political leaders of modern times. His death on 8 April 2000 marked almost four decades campaigning for racial justice and minority rights. Though in life he was an outspoken maverick, in death, Bernie Grant was praised from the heights of the Establishment, from Cabinet ministers and Scotland Yard to political associates and black community leaders, and Prime Minister Tony Blair described Grant as:

“an inspiration to Black British communities everywhere”.

Born February 17, 1944 in British Guiana, now Guyana, Bernard Alexander Montgomery Grant was the son of school teachers, Eric and Lily, who named him after two generals then fighting the Second World War.

Grant came to Britain in 1963, and worked as a British Railways clerk, a National Union of Public Employees area officer, and as a partisan of the Black Trade Unionists Solidarity Movement

A successful local politician, Grant served for a decade as local councillor in the London Borough of Haringey, of which he was elected Leader in 1985. He was the first black head of a local authority in Britain, and was responsible for the well-being of a quarter of a million people, many of them Black and ethnic minorities. Grant joined the Labour Party in 1975 and was elected as Member of Parliament for Tottenham in 1987.

Bernie Grant brought to parliament a long and distinguished campaigning record.

He was a founder member of the Standing Conference of Afro-Caribbean and Asian Councillors and a member of the Labour Party Black Sections.

He convened major conferences of politicians, activists, researchers and academics to shape black agendas. Grant also helped tackle racism on a European wide level, in association with members of the European Parliament and anti-racist groups.

Grant inspired the Parliamentary Black Caucus, co-founded with his fellow “first black parliamentarians” elected in 1987 and Lord Pitt. Inspired by Congressman Ron Dellums and the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, Grant told the PBC inaugural conference in 1989:

“For far too long the black community has had no voice in Britain and we are seeking to redress that”.

His epitaph, he hoped would simply state “Bernie Grant – African Rebel”: a fitting tribute to a man who was a powerful link between black communities in Britain and the Black nations and communities of the world.

In many ways a firebrand activist at heart, Grant courted controversy all his life and evoked mixed emotions. He once shocked royalists and socialists alike by wearing an African dashiki at the state opening of Parliament. Arguably, a controversial politician not to every ones liking, Grant claimed he was misquoted as saying “the police got a good hiding” in the 1985 Broadwater Farm racial disturbances.

As his black parliamentary colleagues rose to the heights of New Labour’s centrist government – Paul Boateng to the Home Office, Keith Vaz to the Foreign Office, and Diane Abbott to top-level state committees – Grant alone continued to support old-style trade union, populist democracy and the fight for black political empowerment within the Labour Party.

Lee Jasper, a staunch Grant supporter, and chair of the National Black Alliance and the campaign group Operation Black Vote, said:

“Bernie will be remembered as a hugely popular man of the people that every black man and woman should aspire to emulate”.

Grant continued work as an MP despite undergoing a heart bypass operation and kidney failure in 1998. In the closing year of his life, Grant addressed the House of Commons saying a just conclusion to the Stephen Lawrence case:

“is the last chance for British society to tackle racism.”

Claudia Jones was a leading figure in London’s Caribbean community from 1955 until her early death in 1964. She founded The West Indian Gazette, and is known as ‘the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival’.

Jones was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in 1915, when Trinidad was still a British colony. When she was eight, she moved with her parents and three sisters to Harlem, New York. Living in impoverished conditions, Claudia caught tuberculosis and had to drop out of school in 1932. For the rest of her life she suffered from damaged lungs and heart disease.

Jones stayed in New York from 1923 to 1955. In 1936, she became an active member of the American Communist Party. At the time, Black issues were still neglected in mainstream politics. The Communist Party, with its ethos of social equality, offered a voice for those fighting for Black civil rights.

Claudia Jones was a talented journalist and by the late 1940s she had become the editor of ‘Negro Affairs’ for the party’s paper, The Daily Worker. An elected member of the National Committee of the Communist Party, she also organised and spoke at events.

In 1948, she was arrested for her political activities and sentenced to the first of four spells in prison. Finally, following a year in the Alderson Federal Reformatory for Women, Jones was deported. She was refused entry to Trinidad and, in 1955, was granted asylum in England.

In London, Claudia Jones became a leader in the emerging.  Black equal rights movement. Post-war migration from the Caribbean had caused tensions in the City Many West Indians suffered from prejudice in housing and employment. At the time, there was no legislation making it illegal to discriminate on the ground of colour.

In 1958, Jones founded the West Indian Gazette, the first newspaper printed in London for the Black community. It provided a forum for discussion of civil rights as well as reporting news that was overlooked by the mainstream media. Claudia worked as editor on the paper until her death, encouraging the most talented Black writers of the time to contribute to it.

WEST INDIAN GAZETTE

Courtesy of Lambeth Council: The West Indian Gazette was founded by the black leader and freedom fighter, Claudia Jones, in 1958. Her broad-based interest in world politics and charismatic personality raised the tone of the subjects covered and the calibre of both the contributing journalists and the people they interviewed. Claudia’s style of reportage increased the social and political awareness of the growing number of Black and Asian peoples in Britain, with in-depth articles on issues such as the MP Fenner Brockway’s stand on the Bill dealing with racial discrimination. The gazette was to close down six months after her death on December 25th, 1964. Front page of West Indian Gazette, Vol.5, No9, April19631992/16

One of Jones’ best-known legacies is the annual Notting Hill Carnival. She helped launch the event as a response to the 1958 riots, when tensions had turned violent as racist mobs attacked local Black residents. Using the West Indian tradition of carnival, the event was intended to create closer relations between all local communities. The first carnival was held in January 1959 in a local hall.

In the early 1960s, despite failing health, Jones helped organise campaigns against the 1962 Immigration Act. This had made it harder for non-Whites to migrate to Britain. She also campaigned for the release of Nelson Mandela, and spoke out against racism in the workplace.

Claudia Jones died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve 1964, aged just 48. She was buried in Highgate cemetery next to the grave of Karl Marx.