Lambeth’s plans for Olive Morris House

This blog has been dormant for some time but I feel the need to re-start it due to Lambeth Council’s proposals to develop Olive Morris House  under its new SDP plans.  Many of you won’t be aware of Lambeth’s plans as they appear to have been rushed through with the minimum of community consultation.   Please see http://futurebrixton.org/your-new-town-hall/your-new-town-hall-get-involved/ and also http://www.brixtonblog.com/lambeth-council-accused-of-secrecy-over-town-hall-campus-plans/16929

I want to ensure that any future plans retain the memory of Olive’s contribution and that she continues to be suitably honoured and I will therefore be keeping a close eye on the plans for Olive Morris House

I will be posting updates on how we can influence the planned proposals.  Please watch this space.


2 Responses to “Lambeth’s plans for Olive Morris House”

  1. March 29, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I have just posted this biography post in my feminist group (we have a weekly ‘feminist of the week’):

    Olive Morris was born in 1952 in Jamaica, moving to London, England at the age of 9 with her family. She resided in Brixton in south-east London for most of her life, which was an area settled by many immigrants from the Caribbean and which suffered heavily from covertly racist policy and procedure and overt racist action. Ms Morris suffered racism at school and left without earning any qualifications.
    Ms Morris became determined to succeed and passed ’O’ and ‘A’ levels whilst working a full-time job and being politically active in anti-racist activity. She was outspoken and not afraid to put herself in harm’s way, and was arrested many times. The police in the area at the time had a reputation for institutional racism and Ms Morris was vocal in her opposition – one documented incident notes her arrest for objecting to the stop and search of a black man who was driving an expensive vehicle. He was a Nigerian diplomat. Ms Morris documented injuries she had received in other arrests she underwent for her activism.
    Ms Morris rose to prominence in the UK as a community leader and activist. She was involved in feminism, anti-racism campaigning and in squatter’s rights campaigns.
    She was a founding member of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) in London, established the Brixton Black Women’s Group and was a member of the British Black Panthers movement. She also co-founded Sarbarr, the first self-help community bookshop aimed at black people in south and south-east London.
    In 1975 she moved to Manchester to study and in the three years she resided in Moss Side (an area reputed to be poor and troubled) she helped found the Manchester Black Women’s Cooperative and Manchester Black Women’s Mutual Aid Group. She graduated in 1978 and returned to Brixton.
    Ms Morris found it necessary to squat as accommodation that was affordable was very hard to come by in both south-east London and Manchester, especially if you were black. She and her friend and co-squatter Liz Obi were the first successful squatter’s to gain legal rights to private property in Lambeth, property which otherwise went empty.
    Ms Morris died at the age of 27 in 1979 after a battle with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. To commemorate her passing in 1986 the London Borough of Lambeth, the local council borough within which Brixton falls, named one of its key buildings after her. Ms Morris was depicted on the B£1 denomination of the Brixton Pound, a local bartering currency used in a trade system within Brixton, in the mid 2000s.
    In 2008 a group named ‘Remember Olive Collective was set up to collate and administrate an exhibition within Lambeth commemorating the work Ms Morris did for the borough, for black women, for anti-racism and for those suffering in poverty. The exhibition ran from November 2009 to January 2010; the ROC officially disbanded shortly before the exhibition opened. However, in 2011 the ROC, through its blog ‘Remember Olive Morris’, set up award schemes to recognise the work of young female activists of African or Asian heritage, in Ms Morris’ name. She is honoured for her strength, determination and fearlessness in activism
    Recently there have been moves by Lambeth Council to redevelop Olive Morris House. There is a blog site through which more can be discovered about Ms Morris and the plans, and the desire to keep her name alive and her contributions recognised: https://rememberolivemorris.wordpress.com/

    Please let me know if you would prefer the link to this blog to be removed. Thank you. X

  2. 2 Alex M
    June 11, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Time can move so quickly since Liz informed me of this passing by. Truly shocking, and yes a lot is changing in Brixton at a very speedy pace!

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