New research: Sikh activism and race relations organisations in Britain

It’s always gratifying to see our collections contributing to academic research and new publications.

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

Continue reading

Advertisements

Asian Youth Movements Archive: Reflections on Re-engaging with Personal History

Nigel de Noronha has been our Researcher in Residence this year, working on the Tandana Collection; a large archive of material about the Asian Youth Movements (AYMs). Nigel was a member of the AYM in Manchester in the 1980s, so this project has been of personal as well as academic and professional interest for him. In this post he reflects on the process of re-engaging with his own personal history through working in the archive.

Asian Youth movements (AYMs) emerged spontaneously in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. The AYM was active in anti-deportation campaigns in Manchester, connected to other AYMs and supported their campaigns against racist discrimination and racial violence.   I joined AYM Manchester in 1982. We adopted a black political identity. Many young Asians witnessed racist and fascist violence, state discrimination from the police, schools, housing and immigration authorities, and discrimination in the labour market.

Liberation, the newsletter of the Manchester AYM. The Manchester movement formed in 1980. Public meetings were often held in Longsight library. They made links with AYMs across the country and supported their campaigns. Courtesy Tandana Archive

Courtesy Tandana Archive

Continue reading

The Manchester Connection and Anti-Apartheid Activism

 In her third guest post based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-apartheid campaigning.

Anti-apartheid activism at UoM offers an insight into how student activism has changed across the twentieth century. Tactical choices by anti-apartheid activists demonstrate that protest becomes a more acceptable method for expressing student discontent and dissent, particularly after the sixties.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Continue reading

“Blatantly Sexist and Racist”: Student Support for Anti-Deportation Campaigns

 In the second in her a series of guest posts based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-deportation campaigns.

In October 1982, the Manchester University Students Union affiliated to Workers Against Racism, an anti-racist campaign organisation run by the Revolutionary Community Party to fight deportations during the eighties. The affiliation is formal recognition of student anti-deportation activism across the decade. Under Thatcher, immigration rules were significantly tightened. Even those with long standing ties and who had not personally committed infractions faced deportation threats. Motivated by anti-racist sentiment, Manchester students supported many anti-deportation campaigns. They were particularly active in local campaigns, supporting many Manchester based families.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Continue reading

“No-one engaged in the pursuit of knowledge is a foreigner”: Supporting International Students in Manchester

This is the first in a series of guest posts by Sarah Webster, based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism since 1945.

Manchester has a reputation as the home of radical politics and ideas. That history includes protest and activism by the city’s university and college students. These blog posts will outline examples of race-related activism by University of Manchester (UoM) students in the twentieth century. Their activism has encompassed opposition to racist regimes in southern Africa, anti-fascist activism and campaigns on global poverty. This first post focuses on activism and support for international students in Manchester after 1945.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Continue reading

Autonomous Women at the Abasindi Women’s Co-op

8th of March is International Women’s Day (IWD), but like any good celebration it has started well in advance of the day itself, and will stretch out well beyond, with events celebrating the achievements of women happening throughout March.

We got in on the action this week by hosting a Spotlight session here in Archives+, looking at Black female activists from our collection. It’s got me thinking about the nature of specifically black and female activism – so often subsumed under the banner of either black or female – and prompted me to do a little research into the motivations and approaches of Black women’s organisations.

Abasindi logo - drawing of African woman in profile

Continue reading

Ours is a Very Active Life

In preparing for our Paul Robeson hands-on session next Wednesday (details on our website and Facebook) I keep coming across the name Wilf Charles. He was one of a small group who established the New International Society in Moss Side in 1946, an organisation that promoted anti-racism locally but also supported international causes, including many championed by Robeson. As a result of this relationship Robeson came to sing at the Society in 1949, but more about that another time…

Wilf Charles is mentioned, in passing, in literature about Len Johnson (Manchester’s black boxing hero), about the International Brigade and the Spanish Civil War, the Communist Party and the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester.

Who was this radical chap?

Continue reading

Viraj Mendis is Our Friend!

This week, as it’s the Manchester Histories Festival and we’re here in our new home at Central Library, we’ve been taking advantage of the handling table in the Ground Floor Archives+ exhibition area.

Image of Steve Cohen collection handling

On Tuesday afternoon Ruth and I pulled together a selection of items from the Steve Cohen archive, which is a large collection of anti-deportation campaign memorabilia from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, donated by the Manchester activist and community lawyer Steve Cohen. There are more than 70 campaigns represented in the collection but we decided to focus on the case of Viraj Mendis.

Continue reading

Black Star: Documenting Britain’s Asian Youth Movements

image of AYM posterCome what may, we are here to stay!

I imagine if you came across the Asian Youth Movements in Manchester, Bradford and other towns and cities during the 1970s and 80s they would have made quite an impression on you. I knew very little about this fascinating bit of recent history until earlier this month when we welcomed author Anandi Ramamurthy to launch her new book Black Star: Britain’s Asian Youth Movements.

In a nutshell, during the 70s and 80s young Asians joined together to protest against the racism and inequality they experienced in their communities and from the government. These grassroots organisations held rallies and marches, protested against deportations and produced leaflets, newspapers and posters to spread their message.

Continue reading