Brick Lane 1978: Photographs reveal hidden anti-racist history

Black Lives Matter (BLM) No Racism Notes

source: Socialist Worker
published: 11 June 2022

In this small but mighty exhibition, Paul Trevor’s collection of photographs capture a critical moment for the fight against racism in Britain. Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point focuses on Bengalis living in the east end of London.

The fascist National Front casts a shadow over the area, and for Bengalis the threat of violence is ever-present. Smashed windows and swastikas can be seen throughout the pictures in the exhibition.

In May, the racist murder of 24 year old Altab Ali shocked the local community – and they rose up to declare, “Here to stay, here to fight”.

The pictures in the Brick Lane exhibition showing the thousands that marched behind Altab Ali’s coffin are extremely moving. Their faces set firm in defiance, it’s a slice of raw working class history so rarely on display anywhere else.

Alongside the photographs are posters, political newspapers and campaigning leaflets from the time. So there’s a poster from that year’s Rock Against Racism Carnival Against the Nazis in Victoria Park.

What the Brick Lane exhibition does brilliantly, though, is draw attention to other parts of the movement that are perhaps less well known.

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