Unending Journey: Evolutions in Black British Activism

‘I live on the sharp edge of hope

On the testing road of an unending journey

But journeys begin and end

With another journey

on the rivers of time’

– John La Rose

The 1960s were monumental for a new wave of black British activism. Radical collectives were forming new political ideas, protesting in various forms and using culture as a means of self defining and organising against power. Who were some of the people involved? What were their politics and hopes? What can we glean from the action for our present political moment? What are the legacies of that generation of activists?

John La Rose is regarded as an elderstatesman for black British activism. An artist, poet, voracious organiser, he was at the forefront of leading political and cultural movements spanning the diaspora. The two films – one a tribute to his life, the other exploring the aftermath of the New Cross Fire – explored the politics that informed his work and that of his collaborators and their dreams of change for condition of black life in the UK and beyond. 

Thank you to everyone who joined us to support the work of the George Padmore Institute, one of the few organisations in the UK working to preserve and make accessible vital documents of Black and Asian history in the UK and across the world.

The Films

Dream to Change the World: A Tribute To John La Rose by Horace Ove (70 minutes)

Exploring the work and life of John LaRose, a central figure to the iconic Black Parents Movement, an activist group that campaigned against police brutality, racism in education and spearheaded the New Cross Massacre actions, including the 20,000 people’s day of action. Find out about John’s influences, and his work using art and culture with his community of collaborators to build political consciousness and push for direct action.

Something Said – Jay Bernard (8 minutes)

Jay Bernard UK 2017. In 1981 the New Cross Fire tragically claimed the lives of 13 young black people and was met with state, media and police indifference. Haunted by that history, and in the context of the recent rise of the far right, Something Said resurrects the spirit of Yvonne Ruddock, whose 16th birthday was being celebrated the night of the fire. Jay Bernard was formerly an artist in residence at the archive.

(Artwork courtesy of Special Design Studio.)

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