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Ian Macdonald QC 1939-2019

It is with great sadness that we heard of Ian Macdonald’s passing in November 2019. The ‘Father of Immigration Law’ was an anti-racist defence lawyer who worked his whole life to promote justice and equality in the UK.

Black and white scan of a newspaper article, with a photograph of Ian Macdonald
Article from The Guardian, 1990, held in our archive in the Legacy of Ahmed collection.

Ian first published the textbook Immigration Law & Practice in 1983. Now in its ninth edition, it remains the leading work on this subject. Many of the anti-immigration campaigns he supported are represented in our archive, including that of Cynthia Gordon, Nasira Begum, Jaswinder Kaur, and Nasreen Akhtar.

For those unfamiliar with Ian Macdonald’s life and work, the causes he championed and the ideas he promoted are now mainstream in society. For example, Ian’s work with the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) was instrumental in the enactment of the 1968 Race Relations Act and the establishment of the Race Relations Board, which laid the foundations for the Equality and Human Rights Commission we have today.

red front cover of Ian Macdonald's book
Ian Macdonald’s monumental book, Immigration Law and Practice, now in its 9th edition.

Ian Macdonald was also counsel in many high profile cases relating to prejudice within the criminal justice system. These include the trial of the Mangrove Nine (a group of British black activists tried for inciting a riot at a protest, in 1970) and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (representing Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks).

This year marks 30 years since the publication of Murder in the Playground. Ian Macdonald was commissioned by Manchester City Council to conduct a public inquiry into racism in the city’s schools, following the murder of schoolboy Ahmed Iqbal Ullah in 1986. The report identified patterns of institutional racism that contributed to the circumstances surrounding Ahmed’s death. The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is named in Ahmed’s memory. The legacy of his death and the investigation that followed will always hold an important place in the work that the Centre does.

black front cover of book with white and blue writing and a black and white photo of ahmed iqbal ullah
This book can be found in the Manchester Local History section of the AIU Centre library.

Ian Macdonald was also a trustee of the George Padmore Institute (GPI) in North London, which was founded in 1991 by political and cultural activists. The GPI is an archive, library, educational resource and research centre which, much like the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, houses material relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) experiences in the UK.  Ian was actively committed to the development of this Institute until the last.

We send our condolences to Ian’s family and friends. He was an inspiration to us all and will not be forgotten.

Categories
From Jamaica to England Great Lives Roving Reader

From Jamaica to England revisited – Blanche Blackwell and the joys of reading obituaries

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

You may remember I invited us all on a journey From Jamaica to England a little while ago. We were accompanied by a whole range of individuals, learning about their experiences of migration as preserved in primary and secondary sources you can find right here in the Centre.

Educated and uneducated, men and women, Black and ‘middle-class brown’ – each had something significant to tell us about the hardships involved in giving up their homeland to travel across the seas to what you’d think might be a better future…

Image of boat sailing into the sunset
Image courtesy tpsdave (https://pixabay.com/en/sea-ocean-sunset-boat-ship-water-67901/ )

Well, I was reminded of our journey back in August as I leafed through some obituaries over breakfast. Now, what’s so good about obituaries? Not a lot, you’d think, given that their purpose is to tell all and sundry that yet another person has died. Whilst that might not be the best news we’ll ever hear, I have to say I’ve always found obituaries fascinating. As a kind of secondary source, sometimes they open up a window into a different world, a different era – just enough to spur us on to find out a little bit more.

And that’s what happened to me whilst I was eating my cornflakes, and I’d like to share that experience with you…

When we travelled from Jamaica to England, there was one community from which we heard nothing directly, although despite it’s small size, it has influenced the lives of everyone who’s ever called Jamaica home. Which community was that? The white community. This fact struck me like a bolt from the blue as I realised I’d begun to read the obituary of a white Jamaican who died aged 104 – Blanche Blackwell.