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The Black Parents Movement
Collection Ref No.:
GB 2904 BPM
The following material concerns the work of the Black Parents Movement, which ran from 20 Apr 1975 and was most active until the mid 1980s. The Movement can be seen as an extension of the Black Education Movement (see GB 2904 BEM) and was formed after struggles by black people in Britain during the late 1960s-1974 over issues of education, police, housing and unemployment in which its founding members had participated. Such issues continued to be the focus of Black Parents Movement activity, with members participating in a large number of campaigns and legal cases, together with international political activity, especially in Grenada and Guyana.
The collection comprises:
BPM/1: Black Parents Movement: Foundations and Origins, divided into four series:
BPM/1/1: Foundations and Organisation/ Structure of Black Parents Movement and Black Students Movement.
BPM/1/2: Alliance of the Black Parents Movement, the Black Youth Movement, the Race Today Collective and the Bradford Black Collective.
BPM/1/4: Principles of Organisation and Membership.
BPM/2: Black Parents Movement: Meetings and Administration, divided into six series:
BPM/2/1: Committees and Meetings.
BPM/2/2: Conferences and Public Meetings.
BPM/2/5: Publications and Editorial Committee.
BPM/2/6: Correspondence and Related.
BPM/3: Black Parents Movement: Regional, divided into two sections:
BPM/3/1: Black Parents Movement: Bradford.
BPM/3/2: Black Parents Movement: Manchester.
BPM/4: Black Parents Movement: Education, divided into three series:
BPM/4/1: Campaign Material and Discussion of Education Issues.
BPM/4/2: Supplementary Schools and National Association of Supplementary Schools (NASS).
BPM/4/3: Education Conferences, Discussion and Related Material.
BPM/5: Black Parents Movement: Central Campaigns, divided into two series:
BPM/5/1: UK Campaigns.
BPM/5/2: International Campaigns.
BPM/6: Joint Campaigns Related to Black Parents Movement.
BPM/6/1: Joint Campaigns Involving Black Parents Movement Members.
BPM/7: Support and Advice Given by the Black Parents Movement for External Campaigns and Cases
BPM/7/1: UK Campaigns
BPM/7/2: UK Cases
The Black Parents Movement (BPM) was an organisation of black people, mainly of Caribbean and African descent in Britain which existed to defend and advance the interests of the black population, especially the working class and the unemployed. The Movement ran from 20 Apr 1975 and was most active until the mid 1980s. The Movement can be seen as an extension of the Black Education Movement (see GB 2904 BEM) and was formed after struggles by black people in Britain during the late 1960s-1974 over issues of education, police, housing and unemployment, in which its founding members had participated. Such issues continued to be the focus of Black Parents Movement activity, with members participating in a large number of campaigns and legal cases, together with international political activity, especially in Grenada and Guyana.
The foundation of the Black Parents Movement was triggered by the arrest of Cliff McDaniel, a black youth, outside his school in Hornsey, North London. McDaniel was well known to pupils and parents of the George Padmore Supplementary School (see GB 2904 BEM for information on Black Supplementary Schools) and many of the parents and teachers formed the membership of the Black Parents Movement. At the same time, the Black Students Movement (BSM) was established by local youths, including Michael and Keith La Rose, to organise the defence of black youth, especially for those who found themselves without proper reason on the wrong side of the law.
Both the Black Parents Movement and the Black Students Movement were successful in defeating the police in the case of Cliff McDaniel (see GB 2904 BPM/5/1/1 for details of case).
A document detailing the principles and methods of organisation of the Black Parents Movement was adopted at the second session of the Movement's first conference 28-29 Sep 1979. However, this was nearly five years after the Movement began. Several documents had been drafted, discussed and subsequently changed or rejected, reflecting the Movement's desire to obtain a membership organisation which guaranteed direct democracy and which was centred on responsibility, not office.
It was written into the principles of the Black Parents Movement that there was to be no leadership, to ensure that dedicated members would carry out regular work, attend meetings and become fully involved. A structure was, nevertheless, required in which to operate. This consisted of a Co-ordinating Council, a Steering Committee, Sections and Groups. A Section was defined as a regional branch large enough to have a minimum of one monthly membership meeting. Haringey was considered to be the first Section, following the case of Cliff McDaniel, but other Sections such as Ealing, Hackney and Brixton were created. The two largest national Sections were Bradford and Manchester - see below for details. Smaller Groups such as Brent worked in conjunction with Sections.
The Black Parents Movement saw itself as part of the independent black radical and revolutionary movement, and this could be advanced by making alliances with similar movements within society, both nationally and internationally. To maintain the relationship of the complete Black Parents Movement organisation, a Secretariat was elected with the purpose of linking with such allies and express solidarity, for example, forging close links with the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union in Trinidad, one of the most powerful workers' organisations in the Caribbean. At home, the Black Parents Movement had already formed an alliance with the Black Students Movement over the case of Cliff McDaniel. In the late 1970s the Black Students Movement changed its name to the Black Youth Movement (BYM). Alliances were also formed with the Race Today Collective (RTC) and the Bradford Black Collective (BBC). Following the adoption of the Black Parents Movement directives in Sep 1979, the four organisations - Black Parents Movement, Black Youth Movement, Race Today Collective and Bradford Black Collective - became known as the Alliance. Each ally maintained its independence, but would attend each others' meetings and join forces when fighting campaigns or pursuing the same objectives and activities.
There were two types of Black Parents Movement membership -those parents with children and those without. Any black parent could apply, but the subject of mixed couples was highly debated. In the end it was decided that mixed couples would not be able to join on the grounds that they should be building a sympathetic organisation with white parents as well. Such an organisation could subsequently form an alliance with the Black Parents Movement.
See GB 2904 BPM/3/1
The Bradford Black Collective was formed during 1976 around the magazine, Bradford Black and was modelled on the Race Today Collective. The membership of the organisation came mainly from black youth, young workers and students of African, Asian and Afro-Caribbean background. In 1977 the Bradford Black Collective formed an alliance with the Race Today Collective. In 1979, the Bradford Black Collective, Race Today Collective, Black Parents Movement and Black Youth Movement subsequently came together to form the Alliance.
The Bradford Black Collective disbanded in 1980. Some of its members went on to form the future Independent Black Collective, which produced the monthly magazine Independent Black.
Although Bradford Black ceased publishing by 1983, the members of the organisation continued to mobilise around issues of concern to the Afro-Caribbean and Asian community in Bradford and West Yorkshire until the early 1990s.
Some of the major campaigns include the George Lindo Defence Committee and George Lindo Commission of Inquiry (see GB 2904 BPM/3/1/3/1), the Aire Valley Textile Workers Strike (GB 2904 BPM/3/1/3/8) and The Bradford 12 Defence Campaign (GB 2904 BPM/3/1/3/4).
See GB 2904 BPM/3/2
In Apr 1978, a group of about 10 parents joined together in response to problems over educational issues and formed the Manchester Black Parents Organisation (MBPO). This was an independent black organisation, drawing on the experiences of earlier movements. It did not join the Black Parents Movement until 31 Aug 1980, when it became known as BPM-Manchester. An alliance had developed between the Manchester Black Parents Organisation and the Abasindi Co-operative, formerly the Manchester Black Women's Co-operative. The Black Parents Movement pledged to support the Abasindi Co-operative when the Manchester Black Parents Organisation joined the Black Parents Movement. At this time, Manchester was campaigning about the treatment of black school students and had formed the Stephen Locke Action Committee. This local campaign subsequently became one of the central campaigns of the Black Parents Movement (see GB 2904 BPM/3/2/3). A Section of the Black Youth Movement - now the Black Youth and Students Movement (BYSM) - was formed in Manchester on 15 Sep 1985.
For details on specific campaigns, see GB 2904 BPM/3/1/3; BPM/3/2/1; BPM/5; BPM/6.
Although the Black Parents Movement and the Alliance were involved in a number of campaigns, the motive was not just political. Cultural and educational agendas were just as important. Parents were not only made aware, through Black Parents Movement publications and position papers, of the widespread exclusion of black pupils and youths from schools, but were encouraged to form their own groups to push for reform. This in turn led to an expansion in the black supplementary schools. The Black Youth Movement organised sporting activites such as football, as well as encouraging youths to form carnival bands in an attempt to discourage a drift into street life and possible crime. The idea of self help was promoted by the Black Parents Movement and other members of the Alliance, something which set them apart from other Movements.
The campaigns fought by the Black Parents Movement and members of the Alliance covered issues such as perceived racism in education and society, the contesting of suspensions and expulsions, alleged maltreatment by the police and providing legal defence, especially for juveniles, and challenging deportation orders. Members of the Black Parents Movement and the Alliance were also the first to intervene following the New Cross fire in 1981and were quick to establish the New Cross Massacre Action Committee. For further details see collection 'New Cross Massacre Campaign', reference GB 2904 NCM.
There were also campaigns in support of pro-democracy initiatives, radical groups and trades unions, particularly in the Caribbean and Africa. Major support was given to the Maurice Bishop government in Grenada during the 1979-83 period of revolution. The membership also participated in CARIG (Committee Against Repression in Guyana) which expressed resistance to the repressive government held by Forbes Burnham. The Black Parents Movement and other members of the Alliance were able to serve as a valuable point of contact for disseminating information to Guyanese in Britain who had fled from Guyana. Such information includes documentation surrounding the death of Walter Rodney and the organisation of memorial services in the UK.
BPM/6/1/1: The Bookshop Joint Action Committee:
Bookshop Joint Action was created following attacks and threats made to black and Asian community bookshops during the period 1973-1977, both in London and nationally. The incidents included racist attacks, personal threats, vandalism of shops and arson. The Committee campaigned against the apparent indifference and lack of action shown by the police, local authorities and government. The campaign received support from teachers, librarians and other organisations, both national and international, as well as stirring media interest.
BPM/6/1/2: Carnival Development Committee:
The Black Parents Movement and Black Students Movement supported the re-organised Carnival Development Committee (CDC) which emerged during the 1976-1978 period as it put power into the hands of those who made Carnival possible. After a period of unrest and dissatisfaction with the way Carnival was being managed by the Carnival Development Committee and also scepticism shown for the newly formed Carnival and Arts Committee (CAC), the artists and bands emerged in 1977 to take on the leadership of the Carnival Development Committee and organise the Carnival movement themselves. As a result the Carnival Development Committee was reformed, policies, membership details and principles of organisation were established and published for the first time and members allocated responsibilities. By 1978 the Carnival Development Committee was unified and organised a successful and more peaceful Carnival, despite ongoing problems of limited funding and external opposition to the event.
Related Material: See individual items. Material relating to Eric and Jessica Huntley can also be found in 'The Huntley Collections' held at the London Metropolitan Archives, references LMA/4462 (Bogle-L 'Ouverture Press Limited) and LMA/4463 (Huntley, Eric and Jessica: Personal).
Material gifted to the George Padmore Institute by John La Rose.