05 June 1978
THE moral panic that followed the publication of The Shades of Grey report on policing in Handsworth and its central characterisation of the area as one terrorised by a gang of 200 criminal Dreadlocks provoked a powerful response from the black community. Within a few months the Affor community agency (1) had published Talking Blues, a 48-page collection of interviews with young black people, parents and church ministers that portrayed an altogether different reality – one of constant harassment, discrimination and racist behaviour on the part of the police.
12 February 1965
MALCOLM X, the human rights activist and iconic figure in the Black Power movement, made what turned out to be his last foreign trip – he was assassinated in New York nine days later – when he visited a row of terraced houses in Marshall Street, Smethwick in February 1965. He came at the invitation of the Indian Workers’ Association (IWA) to show solidarity with their struggle against the racist policies of the local Conservative council.
20 April 1968
THIS is the full text of Enoch Powell’s speech delivered to a Conservative Association meeting at the Midland Hotel (later known as The Burlington Hotel) in New Street, Birmingham on April 20, 1968. The speech, criticising Commonwealth immigration and anti-discrimination legislation, was made prior to the second reading of the Labour government’s Race Relations Bill 1968. While Powell did not consider himself a racist, The Economist claimed in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of the speech that his rhetoric had a “lasting and malign effect … on the way in which race and migration are discussed, or not discussed.”
08 December 1977
JOHN BROWN, a lecturer at the Cranfield Institute of Education was invited to study policing methods in Handsworth in the summer of 1977 following fears expressed by many community leaders that police were routinely using ancient laws enacted in the period of the Napoleonic wars to stop and search young black men for no other reason than that they were young and black. Many people feared that these tactics would lead eventually to violent retaliation.
23-25 July 1900
PAN-AFRICANIST ideals emerged in the late nineteenth century in response to European colonization and exploitation of the African continent. Pan-Africanist philosophy held that slavery and colonialism depended on and encouraged negative, unfounded categorizations of the race, culture, and values of African people. These destructive beliefs in turn gave birth to intensified forms of racism, the likes of which Pan-Africanism sought to eliminate. The first conference was held in London in Westminster Town Hall (now Caxton Hall) and was attended by 37 delegates and 10 observers.
18 October 1968
IN THIS excerpt from a speech given in Montréal following his banning by the Jamaican authorities a few days earlier, Walter Rodney, the Guyanese-born academic and activist, warns against being seduced by the myth of a harmonious multi-racial society. He describes how he got real knowledge and understanding from Rastafari, the least regarded, most despised section of society. Finally, Rodney stresses the importance of the black intellectual attaching himself to the activity of the black masses.
14 October 1492
THIRTY FIVE DAYS after leaving Gomera in the Canary Islands, on his first voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus sighted an island which the native Taino people called Guanahani, and which he renamed San Salvador (Holy Saviour). He landed on October 12 and then sailed around the island. This is an excerpt from his log.
05 May 1980
ON THE Spring Bank Holiday 1980 (May Day) John Reardon and I were working at the Sidelines office in Grove Lane. There were a few people on the corner opposite where the local betting shop was doing good business. Suddenly a police panda car screamed to a halt outside the shop and two policemen attempted to arrest a young black man. A crowd quickly gathered. We were watching from the upstairs window of our building. The crowd surrounded the policemen who were holding their suspect and moments later the two police lay on the floor and the crowd melted away.