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Bernie Grant remembered on 10-year anniversary of his death

Woolley: "Let's live his legacy."

Use your vote to keep the legacy of former Tottenham MP Bernie Grant alive was the rallying cry as his political peers celebrated his career on the ten-year anniversary of his death.

The well-loved Labour politician was the first black man to be elected council leader in 1985, and later became one of the first black MPs to enter parliament – and chose to don a traditional Ghanaian robes to mark the occasion.

A fierce campaigner for equality and black issues, Mr Grant was adored by the community in Tottenham, and inspired a generation of black politicians and activists with his “firebrand” attitude to politics.

One of those he inspired was Simon Woolley, founder and director of Operation Black Vote, whose organisation encourages black and ethnic minority communities to vote and engage in public life.

Speaking at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham, Mr Woolley said:

“If it wasn’t for Bernie Grant, I would not be here today, and that’s the truth. I met Bernie, he was a hero of mine, and he said to me: ‘Young man, you have got to have a black organisation that will inspire a generation for as long as we live, and beyond.”

He added: “Bernie was the person who fought battles that nobody else cared about, but his message was: if a fight is right, we must take up the challenge.

“So let us celebrate this great man, but let’s live his legacy. The 2010 General Election is our time. With a hung parliament a very real prospect, the black vote makes a difference. Do not leave this building without taking steps to register to vote, and making sure Bernie’s vision, his clarion call, and legacy lives on.”

Joining in the celebration was Mr Grant’s widow, Sharon Grant, two of his sisters, as well as MPs Diane Abbot, Keith Vaz, and GLA member Jeanette Arnold.

Hosting the event, was incumbent Tottenham MP David Lammy, who won the seat following Mr Grant’s death in 2000, aged 56.

Mr Lammy’s family, like Bernie Grant,originally hail from Guyana.

Originally published in the Haringey Independent.

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