Category: RACE DIVERSITY

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MERSEYSIDE BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2013 CELEBRATIONS HAILED AS THE BEST YET

As the 2013 Black History Month drew to a close on October 31st the Merseyside Black History Month Group announced that its calendar of events for 2013 was the most successful to date. The full month of activity featured scores of events across the region, highlighted by a brand new urban youth station Beat FM, the Cultural Food Feast at Sefton Park Palm House and the prestigious Black Achievers Awards at St George’s Hall on October 26th. Chair Clint Agard said, “It is indeed testament to the strong partnerships that we have managed to maintain in the region, through difficult...

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH CAN ONLY BE DECLARED A SUCCESS ONCE IT’S REDUNDANT

Uplifting stories of individual triumph, like those of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Mary Seacole, don’t do nearly enough to fill the knowledge gap When Vladimir Putin’s spokesman dismissed Britain as “a small island no one listens to”, David Cameron defended our nation’s honour by mentioning among its triumphs “that Britain helped to abolish slavery”. He made this statement without any apparent irony, or awareness that Britain was also one of the originators of the institution of slavery, certainly in the Atlantic context. As we have just ended Black History Month 2013 statements like this make it clear how much it is...

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THE MEANING OF MARTIN LUTHER KING’S SPEECH

I was asked what relevance King’s speech has in 21st-century Britain. Have you looked the employment market, or the so-called ‘war on drugs’ recently? I did a slew of radio interviews last week, marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Disorientating in its way because the various stations came down the same phone line one after the other: BBC Leeds, Devon, Scotland, Berkshire, Hereford and Worcester. Still, the conversations were a pleasure. Inevitably, presenters asked similar things – why was King’s speech such a great one? What was it about him? Why do we...

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HAS MARTIN LUTHER KING’S DREAM COME TRUE?

When I helped draft that 1963 speech, none of us imagined an African American president. But US society is far from post-racial… In 1963, I had a contentious meeting with Robert Kennedy. In defending the civil rights achievements of his brother John and the Justice Department during his tenure as attorney general, RFK predicted that, “in 40 years”, a negro might be president of the United States. Those of us who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr never contemplated the possibility of a black president in our lifetimes. Kennedy turned out to be off by only five years. In...

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ENOUGH DONE BE ENOUGH – WOMEN, ENSLAVEMENT AND EMANCIPATION

The following is an excerpt from the Memorial Lecture that was delivered by Professor Verene Shepherd at the Liverpool Town Hall on August 22, 2013 as part of the annual Slavery Remembrance activities organised by National Museums Liverpool. I ask myself:  how did Liverpool become so mixed up in this crime against humanity? Prof Kenneth Morgan gives us a partial answer, writing that after Parliament ended the London-based Royal African Company’s official monopoly in England in 1698, private merchants in London, Bristol and Liverpool entered the transatlantic trade in Africans. By the 1740s Liverpool overtook Bristol and London to become...

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COMBATTING MODERN DAY SLAVERY

A comprehensive approach through laws, education and international cooperation is needed to end modern-day slavery, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said recently. “The terrible impacts of slavery and the slave trade are still felt to this day,” Mr. Al-Nasser said in remarks delivered on his behalf to a General Assembly meeting to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. “They have devastated continents and countries. They have led to profound social and economic inequalities, and have given rise to hatred, racism and prejudice.” In 2007, the General...

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BRITAIN’S DIVERSITY WAS LAUDED DURING THE OLYMPICS. BUT NO LONGER

There’s a glaring gap between the chants we heard at last summer’s Games and where Britain has subsequently arrived… Nostalgia for something that happened only a year ago must surely represent our accelerated culture reaching warp speed. But here we are: marking the first anniversary of the London Olympics, and the magic of that event and the subsequent Paralympics are once again being celebrated. “Will anything ever feel this good again?” read a wonderfully understated headline in the Telegraph. To which the answer is: perhaps not, but 120,000 tickets for the Anniversary Games sold out in 75 minutes, which suggests that even the...

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MULTI-PRONGED ASSAULT ON RACISM – NOT JUST THE EDL

Following the EDL’s mobilisation after the Woolwich attack, we must broaden the fight against racism in all its forms Tuesday, May 28th’s setback in London – and it has to be seen as a setback for anti-racists given that they were substantially outnumbered by EDL supporters, and forced to weather a shower of bottles while being kettled – should provoke some rethinking. These are some points that immediately come to mind, which I’ll flesh out and redact in the next few days. 1. This is a long-term fight that has to be conducted on many different levels. It is not just...

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TAKE A HARD LOOK AT RACISM, SEXISM AND HOMOPHOBIA ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

My recent experience at Dartmouth College has shown me that we are still not the society we want to be Like many universities, Dartmouth College has venerated traditions. The annual Dimensions show – a festive, student-organized musical revue performed to entice admitted, but undecided, students to come to Dartmouth – is one such tradition. Many prospective students decide to attend Dartmouth because of how much they enjoy the performance. On 19 April, a group of students calling themselves “#Realtalk” interrupted the show, protesting sexual assault, racism, and homophobia at the university. It was a real jolt for the campus community. President...

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OVERVIEW OF RECENT RACIALLY MOTIVATED ATTACKS

An overview of racially motivated attacks perpetrated by members of the far-right and convictions over the last few months. Just a few months ago, two women in Plymouth were sentenced in February for their part in an EDL mob-attack which took place in 2011. The two were part of a group who attended an EDL meeting, got drunk, went outside and screamed prolonged racist abuse and chanted ‘EDL’ at a Kurdish family who, in terror, barricaded themselves in their takeaway. Some of the attackers stood kicking at the door, others threw pint-glasses into the shop, one of which shattered near...