15 years of Operation Black Vote


Last month, Operation Black Vote marked a significant point in its history – its 15th anniversary at the American Embassy in London.

It was back in July 1996 when a group of activists and volunteers began to explore the ways to empower Black communities, who were subject to severe social and political pressure. Issues such as deaths in custody, racially motivated murders, deliberate targeting by the authorities and political and civic alienation left Britain’s Black communities feeling helpless.

The first 10 months of OBV was to empower the Black communities to use the power of democracy and vote in the 1997 general election. From an ambitious dream to empower the Black community, OBV set the bar high, with a mission to change the landscape of political and civic life in Britain.

OBV has worked tremendously hard to tackle four key areas: political education, political representation, political participation and promotion of equality and human rights.

We have come a long way to fight injustice, prejudice, racism and empowering BME communities in Britain but acknowledge the fact there is a long way to go. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “OBV and Simon Woolley in particular have done amazing work fighting prejudice and stimulating Black communities to claim their rightful place in our British democracy.”

Last month’s event at the American Embassy was a way to highlight and celebrate the tireless work of OBV and also reflect on how far Britain has come towards becoming a fairer and equal society. It was evening to thank all our supporters and every single person who has helped OBV to make the change happen.

The reception was hosted by US Ambassador Louis Susman and US Embassy Staff who have been more than brilliant supporters throughout the OBV journey. A number of personalities and politicians from across the three main parties were also in attendance, including Labour leader Ed Miliband MP, The Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, Keith Vaz MP, David Lammy MP, Chi Onwurah MP, Rushanara Ali MP, Diane Abbott MP and Andrew Stunell, Equality and Human Rights Commission chief Trevor Phillips OBE amongst others.

Last week, OBV held a special graduation ceremony for the participants of the Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme at the House of Lords last week. Amongst the many speakers was Downing Street advisor Shaun Bailey, who described OBV as ‘much more than a think tank, it’s a do-tank’.

There are not enough words to talk about the work that OBV has done over the last 15 years. Instead, we’ve put together a short video to mark the organisation's 15th anniversary and the fight to ensure greater racial justice and equality throughout UK. Click on the link below to watch the video

VIDEO: 15 years of Operation Black Vote