“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

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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.

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