Students Meet the Mayor


Monday saw Lutfur Rahman hold a 'Meet the Mayor' luncheon at his East London Headquarters organised with Operation Black Vote as part of the Who Runs my City project.

In attendance were students from Stepney Green and Swanlea schools, as well as activists from organisations Engage and TELCO.
What made the meeting with the Mayor ‘the most Power BME politician in Europe’ particularly poignant was that the day also commemorated Martin Luther King (MLK) Day in the USA and was also two years almost to the day that President Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated.

One lesson that has been passed down the corridors of time from one generation of the Black political Diaspora to the next is that Power is Never Given.  Martin Luther King learned this during the civil rights era having forged this belief himself through the inspired teachings of Mahatma Gandhi whose birthplace a continent away in Gujarat, India he visited in 1959.

President Obama was to follow on the path paved by MLK and the US civil rights movement, becoming the first African American president of the United States.

And here in the UK Mayor Rahman 40 years later was inspired to seek high office because of all those who had come before across the two continent.  At times during his campaign to be elected Mayor he faced great hostility and some skullduggery from some elements within East London.  

Grit, tenacity and audaciousness are all attributes that can be seen in Black leaders through history from Gandhi to MLK to Obama, and drawn as inspiration by present and future leaders.

Now in elected office Mayor Rahman has a mammoth, but achievable task of bringing communities especially young people together to aspire, and in turn inspire the next generation to take the reigns of change and stand up for what they believe.

Operation Black Vote (OBV) in a unique and ground breaking partnership with London Civic Forum and the London Empowerment Partnership’s Targeted Support programme manage the Who Runs my City project. To find out more visit the website

We would like to offer our services to other communities across London as part of this project. We would be delighted to come and talk to your community group - however large or small between January and March 2011.

How can we individually and collectively influence decision making and shape the future of your communities over the coming months? Why don’t you let us know by logging on and leaving a comment to this piece?

Furthermore you can order the Who Runs my City? booklets and other OBV material from the office by contacting 0208 983 5474 or emailing
Alternatively to find out more visit and

Ashok Viswanathan

Picture: Mayor Lutfur Rahman (middle), Simon Woolley, OBV (right) and students from Stepney Green and Swanlea schools.