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Last updated:22 April 2015

Black and Asian struggles

1960s -1980s

From the late 1940s onwards the existing Black and Asian population in Britain was increased by migration from the Caribbean (particularly Jamaica) and from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, resulting in substantial communities in London, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester and other towns.

Poster for the conference Coming together for equal rights

There was a short but vicious outbreak of anti-black rioting in Nottingham and in the Notting Hill area of London in the summer of 1958. The following year a young black man named Kelso Cochrane was murdered in North Kensington. His killer was never found.

By the early 1960s, race and immigration into Britain had become major domestic political issues. They featured strongly, for instance, in the Smethwick constituency during the 1964 general election and in what become known as the "rivers of blood" speech made by leading Tory politician Enoch Powell on 20 April 1968.

Tory and Labour government responded with a series of Immigration Acts which, by the end of the 1960s, had effectively ended primary migration into Britain from the Caribbean and Indian sub-continent.

Black and Asian communities felt under attack. There was consistent evidence of discrimination and prejudice in housing, education, social services, while young people were getting increasingly angry at their treatment by the police. In August 1976 young black people fought the police at the Notting Hill Carnival, there was rioting in Brixton in April 1981 (followed some months later by disturbances in Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere) and again in 1985 and also in Birmingham in September 1985.

There was a range of community responses:

The Campaign Against Racial Discrimination was founded in 1964 to lobby the Labour government Poster for the Roots Festival 81for anti-discrimination laws. A key figure was David Pitt, one of the first Black Labour councillors.

The Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) was founded in 1958 from a number of existing organisations. It took up social and welfare issues, campaigned against discrimination and had good links with the British trade union movement. Key figures were Avtar Jouhl and Jagmohan Joshi.

In the 1970s a large number of mainly short-lived, but often very active organisations were formed which produced journals and newspapers, such as Race Today.

In the wake of the deaths of 13 young people in an arson attack in 1981 the New Cross Massacre Action Committee mobilised 20,000 people in protest.

Source for Black and Asian struggles in our collections


Race, class and education, edited by Len Barton and Stephen Walker (1983) - Shelfmark Q19

The local politics of race by Gideon Ben-Tovim (1986) - Shelfmark I01

Race, prejudice and education by Cyril Bibby (1959) - Shelfmark H51

Racism and antiracism: inequalities, opportunities and policies, edited by Peter Braham, Ali Rattansi and Richard Skellington (1992) - Shelfmark I21

Blood on the streets: a report by Bethnal Green and Stepney Trades Council on Racial Attacks in East London (1978) - Shelfmark H03

Policing by multi-racial consent: the Handsworth experience by John Brown (1982) - Shelfmark I03

The heart of the race: black women's lives in Britain by Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe (1985) - Shelfmark N27

Black youth in crisis, edited by Ernest Cashmore and Barry Troyna (1982) - Shelfmark I22

Race relations in Britain by Anthony Chater (1966) - Shelfmark A42

Racial discrimination in England: based on the PEP report by WW Daniel with an introduction by Mark Abrams (1968) - Shelfmark H47

Commonwealth immigrants by RB Davison (1964) - Shelfmark K34

Colour and the British electorate, 1964: six case studies, edited by Nicholas Deakin (1965) - Shelfmark P30

Colour, citizenship and British society: based on the Institute of Race Relations report, by Nicholas Deakin with Brian Cohen and Julia McNeal, with a foreword by EJB Rose (1970) - Shelfmark M16

Indian workers' associations in Britain by DeWitt John Jr. (1969) - Shelfmark M28

Catching them young: sex, race and class in children's fiction by Bob Dixon (1977) - Shelfmark I23

Black and white on the buses: the 1963 colour bar dispute in Bristol by Madge Dresser (1986) - Shelfmark M23

Black settlers in Britain 1555-1958 by Nigel File and Chris Power (1981) - Shelfmark I07

The rise of Enoch Powell: an examination of Enoch Powell's attitude to immigration and race by Paul Foot (1969) - Shelfmark H35

Staying power by Peter Fryer (1984) - Shelfmark H09

There ain't no black in the Union Jack: the cultural politics of race and nation by Paul Gilroy (1992) - Shelfmark I24

Coloured immigrants in Britain by JAG Griffith, with a chapter on race relations in the United States by Herman H Long (1960) - Shelfmark H40

Black British, white British by Dilip Hiro (1973) - Shelfmark M17

Police power and black people by Derek Humphry, with a commentary by Gus John (1972) - Shelfmark P15

A history of black and asian writing in Britain, 1700-2000 by CL Innes (2002) - Shelfmark N26

Because they're black by Gus John and Derek Humphry (1971) - Shelfmark P14

A savage culture: racism - a black British view by Remi Kapo (1981) - Shelfmark I10

Race, riots and policing: lore and disorder in a multi-racist society by Michael Keith (1993)- Shelfmark I10

Uprising!: the police, the people and the riots in Britain's cities by Martin Kettle and Lucy Hodges (1982) - Shelfmark H15

Crime, police and race relations: a study in Birmingham, by John R Lambert, with the assistance of Robert F Jenkinson, foreword by Terence Morris (1970) - Shelfmark M18

The racial politics of Militant in Liverpool: the black community's struggle for participation in local politics 1980-1986 by Liverpool Black Caucus (1986) - Shelfmark M27

Murder in the playground: the Burnage Report by Ian A Macdonald (1989) - Shelfmark X11

Race relations, by Philip Mason (1970) - Shelfmark P30

Racism and black resistance in Britain by Robert Moore (1975) - Shelfmark I45

Black Britain by Chris Mullard, with an account of recent events at the Institute of Race Relations by Alexander Kirby (1973) - Shelfmark M19

Black England by Rudy Narayan (1977) - Shelfmark M19

New backgrounds: the immigrant child at home and at school, edited by Robin Oakley (1968) - Shelfmark P14

Speaking out: black girls in Britain by Audrey Osler (1989) - Shelfmark J05

Immigrants in industry by Sheila Patterson (1968) - Shelfmark K29

Immigration and race relations 1960-1967 by Sheila Patterson (1969) - Shelfmark H21

The closed question: race relations in Britain today by Dick Pixley (1968) - Shelfmark Q18

The making of the black working class in Britain by Ron Ramdin (1987) - Shelfmark H55

Race, community and conflict: a study of Sparkbrook by John Rex and Robert Moore with the assistance of Alan Shuttleworth, Jennifer Williams (1967) - Shelfmark J06

Race and empire in British politics by Paul B Rich (1990) - Shelfmark Q56

Prospero's return?: historical essays on race, culture and British society by Paul B Rich (1994) - Shelfmark M06

Colour and citizenship: a report on British race relations by EJB Rose in association with Nicholas Deakin (1969) - Shelfmark P30

Britain's black population by the Runnymede Trust and the Radical Statistics Race Group (1980) - Shelfmark I45

Black tribunes: black political participation in Britain by Terri A. Sewell (1993) - Shelfmark M07

The changing pattern of black politics in Britain by Kalbir Shukra (1998) - Shelfmark I31

A different hunger: writings on black resistance by A Sivanandan (1982) - Shelfmark I16

Communities of resistance: writings on black struggles for socialism by A Sivanandan (1990) - Shelfmark K29

Race in Britain today by Richard Skellington with Paulette Morris, with an introductory essay by Paul Gordon (1992) - Shelfmark I16

Racial disadvantage in employment by David J Smith (1974) - Shelfmark H26

Racial minorities and public housing by David J Smith and Anne Whalley (1975) - Shelfmark H26

The facts of racial disadvantage: a national survey by David J Smith (1976) - Shelfmark H26

Racial disadvantage in Britain: the PEP report by David J Smith (1977) - Shelfmark H60

Race and racism in contemporary Britain by John Solomos (1989) - Shelfmark I16

Public awareness and the media: a study of reporting on race by Barry Troyna (1981) - Shelfmark H29

Race and racialism, edited by Sami Zubaida, foreword by TB Bottomore (1970) - Shelfmark H32


The library has over one hundred pamphlets on race and discrimination

Journals and Newspapers

The Leveller
Race and Class
Race Today
Spare Rib