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 April 1975 and was most active until the mid-1980s. The Movement can be seen as an extension of the Black Education Movement and was formed after struggles by black people in Britain from the 1960s to 1974 over issues of education, police, housing and unemployment, in which its founding members had participated. Such issues continued to be the focus of BPM activity, with members participating in many campaigns and legal cases, together with international political activity, especially in Grenada and Guyana.

The foundation of the BPM 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 and many of the parents and teachers formed the membership of the BPM. 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.

Street march moving towards camera with Black Parents Movement banner held aloft. John La Rose can be seen in the middle of the group, engaged in conversation. The march is taking place on a residential street to reflect the local nature of the campaign and to attract support from the community.
Black Parents Movement on Street March during the Cliff McDaniel Campaign in 1975

The BPM 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. For example, the BPM had already formed an alliance with the BSM over the case of Cliff McDaniel. In the late 1970s, the BSM changed its name to the Black Youth Movement (BYM). Following the adoption of the BPM directives in September 1979, the BPM, BYM, Race Today Collective and Bradford Black Collective became known as the Alliance. Each ally maintained its independence but would attend each other’s meetings and join forces when fighting campaigns or pursuing the same objectives and activities. Regional sections of the BPM were created, the two largest in Manchester and Bradford. Campaigns included the George Lindo Campaign (Bradford) and the Stephen Locke Action Committee (Manchester).

The campaigns fought by the BPM and members of the Alliance covered issues such as perceived racism in education and society, the contesting of suspensions and expulsions in schools, alleged maltreatment by the police and providing legal defence, especially for juveniles and challenging deportation orders. The idea of self-help was promoted by the BPM and other members of the Alliance, something which set them apart from other Movements. Members of the BPM and the Alliance were also the first to intervene following the New Cross fire in 1981 and were quick to establish the New Cross Massacre Action Committee.

Colour photo shows Michael La Rose and Roxy Harris standing in front of the supermarket windows. A Christmas poster in the window helps to date the picture. Both protestors are wearing neck boards denouncing the Mamelodi massacre in South Africa a month earlier and encouraging shoppers not to buy South African goods.
Michael La Rose and Roxy Harris outside the Tesco supermarket on Stroud Green Road during the Boycott South African Goods Protest (21 December 1985)

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.

Joint campaigns included Bookshop Joint Action, created following racist attacks on black and Asian community bookshops during the period 1973-1977 both in London and nationally. Incidents included personal threats, vandalism of shops and arson. The BPM also participated in a campaign which achieved the reform and unification of the Carnival Development Committee (1976-1978).


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