News article about the newly formed Remembering Olive Collective which appeared in Lambeth Life, 15th October 2008, Page 12.
Olive Morris: a retrospective
Last year’s Black History Month saw the launch of a social history project to chronicle the life of Brixton activist Olive Morris.
One of Lambeth Council’s main buildings is named after her, but when artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre looked into her life she struggled to find any information. So she decided to try to find out more and used Black History Month to launch an appeal for information from the community.
She was soon put in touch with Liz Obi, one of Olive’s friends and a fellow activist during the 70s. Twelve months on and the pair have just launched the Remembering Olive Collective, which will continue to look at her life and achievements. They have been joined by members of Olive’s family and other people who knew her.
“We want to create some public memories and reinstate this woman’s position in history. In the group there are women who knew her and members of her family. What we are interested in is how we keep alive her history and preserve her achievements,” said Ana.
The group came together through a shared interest in Olive’s past and are now working together to spread that interest. Olive was an activist who was heavily involved with emerging social and political movements in the 1970s. She set up the Brixton Black Women’s Group, was a founder member of The Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and part of the squatter movement. However she died in 1979 aged just 27 and Ana and the rest of the collective are keen for her life to be more widely known.
She said: “She was a very interesting character and involved in so many different things – the black panthers, the squatter’s movement and political activism.
“There is a lot of information about from the 50s and 60s and the Windrush generation settling here, then there are the Brixton riots from the 80s. But there did not seem to be much from the 70s, which was Olive’s time. It was a very militant time, there was the Vietnamese War and an economic crisis. It has a lot of relevance for now.”
Ana added: “A lot of the men who were involved in the movement are now well known, but the women are not. So looking at Olive’s life and the input she had on so many things people, especially woman can see why some things are the way they are now.”
The next meeting of the ROC will take place on 5 November at the Lambeth Women’s Project, 166A Stockwell Road, Brixton from 6.30pm and is open to all women.