Leicester graduate presents programme on fight against racism

Posted by pt91 at Nov 02, 2011 04:45 PM |
Barbara Jacobs recalls how the University was one of few places where multiculturalism was practised and accepted.

Leicester graduate Dr Barbara Jacobs features in a BBC programme on Monday 7 November 2011 in which she recalls how she played a part in the fight against racism in the city.

Inside Out, presented by Barbara who graduated this year from the School of Education with a PhD, looks back to nearly 50 years ago when Barbara was an undergraduate at Leicester.

Then, the city had an unenviable reputation for racism. In 1972, the arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asians triggered National Front marches through the streets and an outcry from locals. Inside Out asked Barbara to go back to meet some of those involved and find out how the city transformed itself to one of the most tolerant places in the UK.

The National Front and Admiral Nelson: Barbara revisits 1970s Leicester

Barbara Jacobs

“The programme is based on a story that was run in the Leicester Mercury by Adam Wakelin in 2006: the University sit-in at the Admiral Nelson pub in the city centre, which was operating a 'colour bar' as it was then called, in its lounge bar. Myself and a group of other British and international students - black, Asian, and white - and lecturers including Dipak Nandy and Sami Zubaida went up to the lounge bar and sat together. The landlady called the police who threw us out, in some cases physically, down the stairs. 

"At the time, the University was one of the few places in Leicester where multi-culturalism was practiced and accepted. The student body was very small, with only 1,000 students, but quite politically idealistic as there was a strong Sociology Department. Although there were some African Caribbean nurses working in the hospitals at that time, as you'll hear in the programme, they weren't accepted.

“So, in this programme I go back to look at the Admiral Nelson sit-ins in the 1960s, and at the effect of the arrival of Ugandan Asians in the 1970s, and the reaction of Leicester to the incomers. The National Front became very powerful in Leicester, with 25% of the city voting for them in local elections in the early 1970s. I interview Geoff Dickens, East Midlands regional organiser of the BNP, about those early days. There is some shocking footage which shows the extent of the racial violence. I talk about this with Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester, and interview an Asian family who remember the violence, and representatives of the African Caribbean community. I also interview Dr Neil Chakroborti of the Department of Criminology, about his study on rural racism in the East Midlands.”

Inside Out is on BBC 1 at 7.30pm on Monday 7 November in the East Midlands.

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