Grassroots Struggles, Global Visions: British Black Power, 1964-1985

Kerry Pimblott (Lecturer in International History, The University of Manchester) and Kennetta Hammond Perry (Director, Stephen Lawrence Research Centre and Reader in History at De Montfort University)

Black Unity & Freedom Party, Manchester Black Voice
Black Unity & Freedom Party, Manchester Black Voice, Vol. 1, No. 1 (n.d.). This image was reproduced by kind permission of London Borough of Lambeth, Archives Department

During the mid-to-late 20th century calls for ‘Black Power’ swept the globe, capturing the hearts and minds of activists engaged in struggles to confront the legacies of colonialism and white supremacy. This two-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, explores the specific historical development and significance of Black Power in modern Britain. 

While accounts of British Black Power tend to adopt a metropolitan focus, this project shifts the lens beyond London to three nationally significant but under-examined sites: Greater Manchester in the North West and Nottingham and Leicester in the East Midlands. Specifically, the project will examine how considerations of historical place and region informed the distinct character and formation of local Black Power struggles as well as the networks that connected them to each other and their counterparts in the nation’s capital and around the globe. 

In telling these stories, the project adopts a community-based research methodology that builds upon the strengths and resources already present within communities engaging people with lived experience as important knowledge-bearers and partners in the research process. Working in tandem with alternative community-based archiving initiatives, the project team will conduct a series of memory workshops and oral histories in which community elders and former movement participants will be invited to share their recollections and insights. 

The fruits of the project – including new manuscript and oral history collections as well as teaching resources – aim to deliver meaningful reparative justice impacts for community partners in the archive and heritage sector, education, and grassroots anti-racist organisations.