Death / not forgotten

Remembering Olive Morris

Last night some of the Sister Dissidents were in Brixton to celebrate and remember ‪#‎OliveMorris‬ , a kick-ass radical black community activist, whose name is now being erased from public buildings in Brixton as part of the regeneration plans known as the Oval Quarte. Here’s what they said:

“The erasure of black history is something that we are sadly all too accustomed to.That erasure is even more tedious in Britain and more tedious still when it comes to black women.

It is important to remember, because cradled in the stories of the past, are keys to our future, and strength for the present. Remembering means we can see cyclical patterns, it means quite often the present doesn’t come as a surprise.

Today we are here to remember Olive Morris, a fearless, passionate and determined young woman.

We remember her. A champion of intersectional activism, and an advocate for the empowerment and visibility of black and brown women. We remember her today, when people are asked to ‪#‎sayhername‬ in remembering black female victims, when women are being abused in the most heinous ways in immigration detention centres, when women are silenced and objectified.

We remember Olive, a committed housing activist as we stand in Brixton, nearly 4 decades after her death, still campaigning against unjust policies and practice that posits profits before people, seeing businesses shutting up shop and families kicked out with nowhere to go.

We remember Olive, co-founder of OWAAD, who among many things campaigned against unfair immigration laws and fostered unity across black and brown communities for women. We remember her in a climate that sees the increased vilification of immigrants and the growth of scapegoating, right-wing rhetoric.

We remember Olive, an anti-imperialist, member of the British Black Panthers, in the 21st century where mining companies, multi-national companies, and governments profit from the resources and suffering from black and brown people the world over. In the 21st century where humans in government will not bat an eyelid at black and brown bodies at sea, often fleeing situations that can be traced back to government offices in the UK.

Remembering Olive is crucial, not just today as we stand together, but in the work we do. Actions we call. Rallies we attend. Because when we remember Olive’s work – and feel empowered by how much she achieved in so short a time – we remember that her work is not yet done, and neither is ours.

And as we are gathered here tonight, let us remember that as a radical community leader, Olive would have stood on the frontline of the fight against the reckless social cleansing of Brixton and the ‘redevelopment’ of the area.
So it is not only her name that cannot be erased from the history of Brixton, but her actions too.”

And of course we ended with our now infamous Assata Shakur mic check.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

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