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Top fundraising screening of iconic movies for new anti-racist movement 

MARC WADSWORTH invites readers to join the newly formed Liberation Movement to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of its predecessor, the Anti-Racist Alliance

TWO iconic films are being shown at a famed east London arthouse cinema tomorrow afternoon marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA).

The Hackney council-owned Rio will be screening The Protector, made for ITV by radical Black Jewish film-maker Orson Nava and the award-winning Wonderful World ARA cinema advertisement by acclaimed movie director Zak Ove.

Margaret Busby, the former chair of the Booker Prize judges, will be doing a Q&A with the film-makers.

Nava’s film is a gripping observational documentary that follows the special forces-trained close protection officer Glenford Dinnal-Allen who kept me alive after I was put on a “death list” by fascist paramilitary group Combat-18 in the 1990s. 

My high crimes, in their twisted minds, were to have led campaigns to shut down the British National Party’s “Nazi bunker” of a headquarters, in south-east London, and fight racist murders like that of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. 

I’m still here and Combat-18 leaders are either dead or in jail. More importantly, the BNP’s Welling HQ was closed down by the local authority following sustained protests and two racist thugs were jailed for Lawrence’s murder.

The Wonderful World film I commissioned through the visionary Maher Bird Associates advertising agency stars BBC Casualty star Patrick Robinson. 

It has a twist on the world-famous Louis Armstrong ballad of the same name. Permission was granted by the late trumpeter’s estate to use his classic track for the ad.

Three tumultuous decades since I founded the ARA, black community activists and their trade union allies have launched its successor, The Liberation Movement (TLM), because racism and inequality have never been starker in Britain.

As TLM’s founding statement says, the government’s hostile environment continues to scapegoat migrants, refugees and the Muslim community.

From the Grenfell Tower fire and Windrush scandal to the Covid pandemic, we have seen a heavier impact on people of colour. 

Key TLM-supporting group Grassroots Black Left, with its campaigning and pamphlets Black People Racism and the Covid-19 Pandemic and Black Workers in Health and Social Care: A Blueprint for Action, has laid bare how racism is at the heart of the pandemic. African, Caribbean and Asian front-line workers and communities have disproportionately suffered as a result of it.

In Britain, with its history of empire, racist ideas are deeply rooted. People of colour make up 14 per cent of Britain’s population. Daily they face personal and systemic racism. The shocking racist abuse of footballers and other black people in the public eye shocked the nation as have the scandalous experiences of Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq. We need a united movement to defeat all such discrimination.

Africans, Asians, Caribbeans and other people of colour are at the sharp end of racism, so it is they who should lead the fightback, supported by white people in a coalition.

The Black Lives Matter protests put huge numbers on the streets day after day precisely because black people themselves organised and turned up for them. 

Beyond police reform, BLM widened its demand to include the decolonisation of British history and a critique of Britain’s systemic racism, something Boris Johnson’s vicious Tory government not only denies but bolsters. 

Sadly, a specific trade union presence was absent from the BLM demonstrations, the largest civil rights mobilisations ever seen in Britain. Progressive political parties were not involved either. Our new movement can put this right.

TLM has a mission to make sure community organisations, including trade unions, take these matters even more seriously than before. 

No more cynical “outsourcing” of stop-and-start anti-racist campaigning to organisations hostile to the Labour Party will do.  

Much more needs to be done to mobilise African, Asian, Caribbean people and other working-class communities, together with the labour movement, at every level based on the non-negotiable principles of the self-organisation and self-determination of the oppressed. 

“Nothing about us without us,” as the saying goes.

TLM will campaign in our communities, trade unions and workplaces to achieve its anti-racist objectives. United together we can defeat racism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and all other forms of hatred.

Two weeks after its successful London launch, TLM can boast support from leading African, Asian and Caribbean politicians including Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, as well as MPs Clive Lewis and Apsana Begum. Others are Ian Lavery, shadow frontbencher Rachael Maskell and Liverpool Wavertree’s Paula Barker. Green Party backers are Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jenny Jones. 

The impressive rollcall of prominent individuals and organisations putting their weight behind broad-based TLM continues with the Bakers’ Union, the Bangladeshi Workers’ Council, Leicestershire Indian Workers’ Association, Lambeth Unison Black Workers, Justice4Grenfell co-ordinator Yvette Williams; leading Windrush lawyer and campaigner Jacqui McKenzie; Caribbean Labour Solidarity president Luke Daniels; Unite’s national political education co-ordinator Barry Faulkner; RMT president Michelle Rodgers; Fire Brigades Union president Ian Murray; Merseyside Black Lives Matter Alliance and trades councils. Celebrity supporters are headed up by film director legend Ken Loach, political rapper Lowkey, comedian Alexei Sayle, actor Cathy Tyson and many more.

This comes 40 years after the New Cross fire massacre happened, claiming the lives of 14 young black people, followed by the unprecedented Black People’s Day of Action, which saw thousands on the streets in protest. And the momentous Brixton uprisings against police oppression that followed in April of the same year.

The ARA went on to become Europe’s largest black-led anti-racist movement. Among its achievements were putting together a popular broadest-based coalition against racism in Britain, with African, Caribbean and Asian people in the organisation’s leadership and trade unions at its core.

It got laws passed to make racial violence and harassment specific criminal offences. The ARA also mobilised thousands of people on peaceful anti-racist demonstrations.

I’m particularly proud we organised the annual ARAfest music festivals for thousands of youth decades before BLM. This became the Respect and then Rise festivals, which were axed by Boris Johnson when he was London mayor.

TLM must do it all again.

Here’s the link to book tickets for TLM’s film screening (youth and student prices are £3.50 and £5): mstar.link/TLMFilmScreening. For more information about TLM visit www.liberationmovement.org.uk.

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