Socialist Worker

Birmingham Revolutions - new display showcases a history of resistance

by Jay Williams
Issue No. 2692

Protesting in 1972 against racism and police brutality

Protesting in 1972 against racism and police brutality (Pic: Vanley Burke. From the Birmingham Museums Trust collection)


This display explores Birmingham’s vibrant and varied history of protest and activism— from the Priestley Riots of 1791 to the LGBT+ campaigns of today.

It starts with the “Glorious Revolution”—when parliament overthrew the monarchy in a military coup in 1688.

But it also covers the Chartist movement, the general strike of 1926 and the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85.

It also features the anti-nuclear campaign CND, but nothing of Stop the War.

Some of it focuses on the Nazi National Front (NF), and the anti-Nazi response.

It features photographs of anti-Nazi mobilisations from the 1970s

Quite rightly, it points out that the notorious speech by musician Eric Clapton—proclaiming racist Tory politician Enoch Powell “was right”—was given at the Birmingham Odeon.

The exhibition juxtaposes the NF with anti-fascist activity.

It asks viewers to say whether they think it’s alright to include the far right in an exhibition of resistance.

This is a good exhibition, if a little small. You could visit and enjoy it in your lunchtime.

But it’s worth spending time to read the notes that accompany the exhibits.

They’re informative—and also solidly behind those who have resisted.

Birmingham Revolutions—Power to the People. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Sq, Birmingham B3 3DH. Until 4 September 2020. Free

Poetry book launches

Indie publisher Waterloo Press is launching two new poetry collections.

They are Adventures in Racial Capitalism by Kev Inn, and Sod ‘em—and tomorrow by Des Mannay.

Mannay has won prizes or been shortlisted in seven competitions, published in 18 anthologies and performed at numerous festivals.

A long time community activist and former shop steward, he has had articles published in Socialist Worker Socialist Review, Planet, and was on the Editorial Board of Welsh Socialist Voice.

Inn is a poet, teacher and social historian.

He has taught sociology at three London colleges, and as a researcher, has completed a PhD project, and worked at the University of Birmingham.

Inn has had work published in Race and Class, and contributed a chapter to the book, Black British History—New Perspectives.

WATERLOO PRESS & LIT UP: POETRY BOOK LAUNCH. Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, London N15 4RX. 29 February, 2:30pm. Entry £3 refundable against price of book purchase

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