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Remembering Bernie Grant 10 years on

The Bernie Grant Arts Centre will tomorrow host a special memorial event in celebration of the life of the late black MP Bernie Grant who died ten years ago.

Grant died at the age of 56 on 8 April 2000.

Entering Parliament in 1987 as one of the first black MPs, Grant was a resolute representative for black and ethnic minority communities as a trade union leader and local government politician.

Born in British Guiana, now Guyana, Grant came to Britain in 1963 and quickly became a campaigning union official with Nupe.

He joined Labour and won a seat on the council in the London borough of Haringey in 1978, before becoming council leader in 1985.

Entering Parliament in 1987, he caused a stir by wearing traditional Ghanian robes to the State Opening of Parliament.

As an MP, he maintained his reputation as a firebrand, backing demands for black sections in the Labour Party, urging the exemption of Rastafarian’s from the poll tax, and defying convention by disrupting the Chancellor’s Budget speech in 1988, shouting “shame, shame”.

He campaigned against racism in his constituency and nationally, supporting various ethnic minority communities.

In Bernie Grant’s last intervention in the House of Commons, on 11 November 1999, he sought an apology from the Prime Minister Tony Blair for the part the British state played in enslaving Africans.

His death in April 2000 was mourned by all sides of the House.

A celebration of Bernie Grant’s life and Black, Asian and ethnic minority political representation in the UK will take place at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, London on 8 April from 4:30 pm.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for raising the profile of minority ethnic citizens in politics and parliament.

  2. I had contact with Mr.Grant during his campaign to rid the shelves of the golliwog.My work on this image continues with now researching how various artists have,and are now,using the trade character in their work on racist imagery.I also believed that Mr.Grant was for the folk and social justice.He has a place in my mental pantheon of tireless socialist.When in LOndon I hope to be able to visit the institution,cordially Robert

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