Author Archive for Rashmi Munikempanna


The f word – Olive would have told me to shut up and do something

Olive would have told me to shut up and do something by Tara Alturi
2 March 2009, The f word blog

Tara Atluri reflects on her time with the Olive Morris project as well as her being a part of the Remembering Olive Collective.

Olive would have told me to shut up and do something



South London Press – Civil rights hero Olive erased from history

Civil rights hero Olive ‘erased from history’ by Walter Hemmens
11 November 2008, South London Press

South London press 2008

A council has been accused of “erasing from history” the name of a woman hailed as one of Brixton’s heroes in the 1970s struggle for civil rights.
When the Lambeth council building in Brixton Hill names after Olive Morris, a member of the Brixton Black Panthers, was revamped as a “customer centre” last year, her name was removed from the part of the building used by hundreds of members of the public everyday.

A photograph of Olive and a plaque, unveiled by her mother Doris in 1986, were also taken down.
Olive’s name now appears only above and inside the staff entrance.

Veteran civil rights campaigner and poet Clarence Thompson said: “People who have dedicated their lives to changing the quality of life in Lambeth should be honoured and it should be forever.”

“You wouldn’t go interfering with Nelson’s Column would you? Why have they got to do that?. It sends a bad signal.” He was speaking after a meeting of the REmembering Olive Collective (ROC), an organisation set up last year to preserve Olive’s memory.

The meeting was held at the Karibu Centre in Gresham Road and was attended by Emory Douglas and Billy X Jennings – two veterans of the US Black Panthers that inspired Olive and the Brixton Movement.

Born in Jamaica in 1952, Olive made her mark as a feminist and black activist until she died from cancer aged 27. Only five out of 20 people spoken to by the South London Press outside Olive Morris House knew anything about her.

Liz Obi, chairwoman of the ROC, who squatted at 121 Railton Road with Olive and was in the Brixton Black Women’s Group set up by Olive, said last week: “She was a whirlwind of a person, really inspirational. She had a lot of energy. It’s tragic she died so young, she had a lot to give to the community.”

Ms Obi said the ROC and the Morris family wanted to reinstate a display about Olive’s life in the customer centre, but had been told by the council it would not match the centre’s new “corporate image”.

Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, who was a member of the Brixton Black Panthers with her in the 1970s said after last week’s meeting: “Its tragic really, it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. She was someone who was very significant for Lambeth, and its part of the borough’s heritage.”

A council spokesman said: “We very much want to pay tribute to Olive Morris and her legacy in Lambeth, and we’re looking to reinstate a plaque near to its original location as well as looking at further options to mark her contribution. The building is already named after Olive Morris, in her memory and displays her name on the outside.”


South London Press – Black Panthers talk in memory of Olive

Black Panthers talk in memory of Olive
31 October 2008, South London Press

News item announcing the forthcoming Creation and Liberation event at Karibu Centre

South London Press October 2008

Brixton: Veterans of the radical US Black Panther movement are giving a talk on Monday to commemorate their UK peer Olive Morris – the community activist who died in 1979, aged 27. Creation for Liberation: Black Panthers in Brixton includes talks by US Panthers Emory Douglas and Billy X Jennings, Brixton Panther Neil Kenlock and poet Clarence Thompson.

It is at the Karibu Education Centre, Greshan Road at 7pm, £10 on the door, £7 in advance, £5 for U18s. Email Black Cultural Archives at or call 02075828516 for details.


Lambeth Life, 15 October 2008

News article about the newly formed Remembering Olive Collective which appeared in Lambeth Life, 15th October 2008, Page 12.

Lambeth Life_2008

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.

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