Legacies of ‘81

May 28, 2021

Legacies of ‘81

In the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Uprising which swept UK inner cities, and following a year of BLM protests, the UK Government has proclaimed that institutional racism is a myth. Here we consider the events of ’81, their legacies and lessons for a new wave of anti-racist activists and society as a whole. Join Lord Boateng, Maria O’Reilly, Wally Brown, Professor Gus John and Madeline Heneghan for this unique discussion.  Featuring exclusive performance from legendary reggae poetry pioneer Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Lord Boateng is a Labour Party politician and the UK’s first Black Cabinet Minister in May 2002 when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In 1981, Lord Boateng was electe to Walthamstow Council, As chair of the Greater London Council’s police committee and vice-chair of its ethnic minorities committee, he advocated greater accountability in the Metropolitan Police and spoke out against racism in relation to their dealings with the African Caribbean and Asian communities.

Maria O’Reilly has been a life long campaigner for racial justice locally, nationally and internationally. One of the founding members of Liverpool Black Sisters in the 70’s, Senior Community Relationshhip Officer at MCRC in the late 80’s, member of Liverpool Black Organisation, Caseworker for L8 Defence Committee 81, Co-ordinator for L8 Law Centre and part of the working party to secure the Merseyside Immigration Advice Unit, Access to Law and various other initiatives tackling racial inequality and injustice; Soul Eight, Survivors of Racial Terrorism supporting asylum seekers and the consortium of Black Organisations.

Wally Brown was born in Liverpool 8, and worked as a Youth Worker in the area and founded the Elimu Wa Nane study school. He was involved in community action through a number of organisations including the Liverpool Black Organisations, Merseyside Anti Racist Alliance and Chair of the Merseyside Community relations Council. It was in this role that he liaised with the police during the 1981 Uprising. He has been awarded several awards in honour of his service and achievements including a CBE, an Open University Honourary Master’s Degree, an Honourary Doctorate from Edge Hill University and Freedom of the City of Liverpool. He is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside.

Professor Gus John is a renowned activist and academic who has been working in education, youth work and social justice since the 1960s. In 2016, he was chosen as one of the 30 Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders globally. He was a member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) in the middle to late 1960s and a member of the Council of the Institute of Race Relations in the early 1970s. A founder trustee of the George Padmore Institute, an archive and library in North London, established in 1991, that is dedicated to archiving the struggle of the African and Asia Diaspora in post-war Britain and Europe.

In 1974 Race Today published Linton Kwesi Johnson’s first collection of poetry, Voices of the Living and the Dead. He has had four more books published and in 2002 became only the second living poet and the first black poet to have his work included in Penguin’s Modern Classics series, under the title Mi Revalueshanary Fren: Selected Poems. Johnson’s first album, Dread Beat An Blood was released in 1978, and since then he has released 14 more albums, including LKJ Live in Paris in 2004, a CD and DVD celebrating his 25th anniversary as a reggae recording artist. In 2003 Johnson was bestowed with an honorary fellowship from his alma mater, Goldsmiths College, and in 2014 he was made a Commander of the Order of Distinction for outstanding and important services to Jamaica.

Madeline Heneghan became WoW’s first full-time Festival Director in 2006 and was ultimately responsible for the delivery of the annual month-long Festival and all WoW projects. Madeline has an MA in American Literature and History, and prior to joining Madeline was the Action Plan Coordinator for The Black and Racial Minority Network. Most recently Madeline and has written and published, with Emy Onuara, a book based on the findings of the Great War to Race Riots Creative Heritage Project. Madeline is now delivering our latest Creative Heritage Project based on the archives of the Liverpool 8 Law Centre, and working to shape WoW’s long-term strategy and development.

Date: Friday 28th May

Time: 6PM

Price: £6/£3

6pm

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