Red Velvet: the forgotten story of Ira Aldridge



Something for the weekend

Red Velvet uncovers the true, but forgotten story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor, who played Othello on the London stage in 1833. Written by Lolita Chakrabarti and starring Adrian Lester as Ira Aldridge, the play examines and analyses the hot topics of race and racism in Victorian Britain by exploring aspects of Ira Aldridge's life story.

What we can learn from Bob Crow


Even before his untimely death, the RMT union chief Bob Crow was a legend, a living legend. He showed that if you had the right strategy, neither big business nor big Government could push you around.

It’s worth remembering that in an employment climate in which literally hundreds of thousands of workers have been forced into ‘Zero hour’, contracts, giving no security, no sick pay and perpetually low salaries, his members were amongst the best paid, best protected ‘blue collar’ workers in the UK.

Hackney's Future: 'You have no excuse not to succeed'


“You have no excuse not to succeed,” exclaimed OBV Director Simon Woolley to a 200-strong audience of Year 9 students at the Petchey Academy in Hackney last week. This message is one that all youngsters should hear, and especially those of the BME community, of which most of the students in the room belonged to.

The focus of Woolley’s speech was to point out the obstacles that these students might face, while inspiring them to persevere and strive to be the best that they can.

Monica Sharma shares a route map for political success


In a context in which young Black and Asian women are seriously breaking new political ground, Monica Sharma sets an example of passion and determination. At the young age of 23, she has been able to attain a degree in International Politics from City University, and pave a path for herself inside politics by working for two MPs and now a Peer.

The most important detail of this story is that Sharma, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has been able to find success for herself, whilst being a role model for others.

European Elections: Verge of political history


At last week’s General Election Summit organised by Operation Black Vote, a range of organisations gathered from across the country to begin the 2015 General Election strategy to address the Black Minority Ethnic (BME) democratic deficit and to ensure that race equality is put firmly back on the agenda.

Although the impacts of racial inequality are widespread and devastating, there was much to be positive about as OBV’s research revealed that in over 25% of parliamentary seats, BME communities could play a critical role, if we positively engage.

A Supreme moment for US Black History month


As the US Black History Month celebrations came to an end last week, the transatlantic spirit was enjoyed in London with a stunning performance from former ‘Motown Supremes’ member Mary Wilson. OBV had the privilege of being invited to the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Elizabeth Dibble’s residence, where we were joined by a number of notable figures including Baroness Lawrence and Baroness Benjamin in honour of US Black History Month.

‘Police Corruption’ at the heart of Lawrence investigation



Both the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Home Secretary Theresa May have viewed the review of police corruption with the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation as ‘profoundly shocking’.

As a direct result to these initial findings the Home Secretary has ordered a Judge led public inquiry into incidents such as undercover officers purporting act for, and on behalf of the Lawrence family whilst seeking to wilfully discredit the family and their associates

Election summit: Putting race back on the agenda



OBV's Deputy Director Francine Fernandes inspired BME leaders and academics from around the UK with a simple, yet truly empowering message:

"History is waiting to be written."

And that was the theme that continued throughout the historical 2015 General Election summit held yesterday at OBV’s offices. In my introduction, I argued that:

Political unity growing to reform stop and search



Last week, Shadow Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP said that the practice of stop and search needs an urgent change and wrote to the Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP offering cross party support.

Cooper believes the disproportionate impact on BME communities is “shameful” and calls for urgent reform. Cooper added,

Migrant Entrepreneurs’ ‘breathtaking’ economic contribution



Here’s something you will not hear much from Ukip leader Nigel Farage, or for that matter, most mainstream politicians:

Migrant entrepreneurs' "breathtaking" contribution to the UK economy has been revealed by new research, which found that they are twice as entrepreneurial as native Britons.

Foreign-born entrepreneurs are "hyper-productive" with a fantastic contribution to the UK economy according to a study by the Centre for Entrepreneurs think-tank and financial tech firm DueDil.

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