London members mark Black History Month

Tackling racism ‘is one of our most urgent tasks – we cannot let it slide off our agenda,’ general secretary tells London celebration

UNISON Black members in London gathered in Conway Hall today to mark the legacy of Black people, and their continuing contribution to the UK.

The event was organised by the union’s Greater London regional Black members’ committee as part of Black History Month.

Itfeatured music, speakers and dance as more than 100 members and children celebrated, commemorated and had fun learning about the contribution of Black people under the theme ‘Our Legacy’.

Speakers included general secretary Dave Prentis, who said Black history month is “a time for action as well as reflection, a time to learn from the past – and to work together to shape a new future.

“This month exists not only to celebrate achievements, but to ask why Black people are written out of our history.”

Because “racism is not history,” said Mr Prentis. “It is still with us today.”

And tackling it “is one of our most urgent tasks – we cannot let it slide off our agenda. UNISON must make sure that, despite this government’s best efforts, we are still strong and organised in our workplaces – ready to speak up against racism, ready to challenge it, ready to fight for a better workplace and a better society.”

And that, Mr Prentis told the audience, “is why we are fighting the government’s Trade Union Bill

“It attacks our ability to fight for our members, to campaign and make our voices heard, to take industrial action, to represent them, to protect workplaces from racism and discrimination.”

“Malcolm X said” ‘Liberate your mind by any means necessary’,” recalled Mr Prentis, “and Black history month is one of the necessary ways that we all have to liberate our minds from racism, prejudice and narrow horizons.

“And this is no less true of the trade union movement.”

Regional Black members chair Margaret Greer and fellow committee member Clive Anthony had a simple message for the gathering: “Our past has not defined us, destroyed, deterred or defeated us; it has only strengthened us, because it is our legacy.”