Workers' unity in the face of Enoch Powell's racism

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Socialists watched in despair when dockers and building workers marched in support of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech. But the tide turned and a few years later dockers were marching for Grunwick strikers.

This year the left will be commemorating the events of May 1968, when students and workers rose up in Paris.

But those events were preceded in Britain by a dismal affair. The gutter press and right wing politicians launched a huge campaign against Asian families fleeing persecution in East Africa. The Labour government and nearly all the Labour MPs joined in. They pushed a bill through parliament in just one day, removing the right of Asians to enter this country even through they held British passports.

Stories of Black Britain in Pictures

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Author Paul Gilroy tells Brian Richardson why he hopes images of past moments of everyday life and struggle will inspire a new generation

Your new book, Black Britain: a photographic history, is a very different type of book from those that have made your name. What persuaded you to curate and write a book based around photographs?

Racism: 14 Years Can be a Long Time in Politics

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One of the most striking aspects of The New East End is the picture it paints of virulent racism. The authors note, "of the white respondents, a majority expressed an often bitterly negative attitude towards foreign immigrants, and particularly towards Bangladeshis".

If true, this is a very divided society on the verge of turmoil. But many of the interviews have a dated feel. One example, which immediately stands out, is an interview with a white respondent who complains of allegedly preferential service offered to Asians, "last Saturday at the children's hospital in Hackney Road". This hospital, a few hundred metres from where I live, closed in 1998.

A Long Way from Home

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Richard Bradbury recalls the life and work of the black poet Claude McKay.

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?

Style and Society: Say it Loud, Still Black and Proud

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Brian Richardson explores how black culture has shaped post-war society.

Walk down any major high street or into any youth space in Britain and before long you will be confronted by the unmistakable signature of black British style. A uniform of hooded tops, trainers or Timberland boots and unfeasibly low-slung trousers.

Anti-Fascism: That Was Then, This is Now

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Music Against the Nazis - Rock against Racism in the 1970s and Love Music Hate Racism today.

Rock Against Racism - 1970s
by Roger Huddle

It is very important that we consider the establishment of Rock Against Racism in the wider political and historical context. 1976 was a year of major social upheavals, with the introduction by a Labour government of the Social Contract. It was also the year that saw a real rise of the Nazi National Front.

Racism: Hope Amid the Hostility

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Attacks on refugees and Islamophobia are one side of the changing face of racism, but there is also a groundswell of anti-racist sentiment.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' Assessing the level and threat of racism in Britain today uncannily summons up those famous opening words of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.


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