The Late Bernie Grant was Britain’s foremost black spokesman, a champion of social and racial justice, and a pioneer for diversity.
Born in Guyana, and resident in Britain since 1963, Bernie Grant worked as a British Railways clerk,he was also National Union of Public Employees area officer, and as a partisan of the Black Trade Unionists Solidarity Movement.
In the political sphere he joined the Labour Party in 1975 and In 1987 was was elected to the British Parliament as one of the first black MP’s of modern times.
He shunned career advancement in favour of fearless campaigning on behalf of disadvantaged communities. Though regarded by the establishment as controversial, he came to be regarded as a people’s hero for his forthright stance against inequality in all its forms. His tireless efforts on behalf of Africa and the Caribbean region, and his insistence on the recognition of the past injustices of slavery and colonisation, earned him respect all over the world.
Grant had served for a decade of service as local councilor in the London Borough of Haringey, of which he was elected Leader in 1985. He was the first ever Black Leader of a local authority in Europe, and in this capacity had responsibility for an annual budget of some 163,500 million pounds, and the well-being of a quarter of a million people.
Bernie Grant brought to parliament a long and distinguished record as a leading campaigner against injustice and racism. He was a founder member of the Standing Conference of Afro-Caribbean and Asian Councilors and a member of the Labour Party Black Sections.
Grant was also a member of the National Executive of the Antiapartheid Movement in Britain, with a long-standing concern about the situation in Southern Africa. He also had a keen interest in the affairs of the Caribbean region, and of Central America, Ireland and Cyprus. He was also involved in efforts to tackle racism on a European wide level, in association with European Members of Parliament and European anti-racist group.
The Britain he found on arriving from Guyana in the early 1960’s, was a society ridden with prejudice, offering few opportunities for Bernie Grant quickly became involved in challenging racism wherever he found it. He used his position to speak out against discrimination in employment, in education, in policing, in public housing and against the racial stereotyping of young people.
Bernie, died of a heart Attack on 8 April 2000 , aged 56. his Wife sharon has wored tirelessly to set up the Bernie Grant Foundation and in September 2007 in Tottenham, London, Haringey Council opened the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in his name.