OBV celebrates 25 years!



Operation Black Vote (OBV) launched twenty years ago today. In that period there has been a quantum leap in progress, which has been fueled in part by OBV's ardent commitment and work:

  • 400% increase in MPs from 4 to 65 – 10% of whom are OBV alumni
  • 200 magistrates from OBV alumni contributing over ten thousand hours of court service
  • 150 councillors through our leadership programmes
  • And thousands of our alumni have contributed to every strain and vein of public, political life, and community wellbeing.

To celebrate this landmark year we will be producing a commemorative brochure, and holding a number of online events to celebrate and mark the milestones, supporters, founders and core team, and the achievments and activities.

The work of OBV was featured yesterday in the Guardian in a profile of OBV Director Lord Woolley, for their Black Lives series

Director Simon Woolley said:

It is days like this that you treasure. It certainly is about basking in the success that has positively changed peoples lives, and helped transform institutions, but rather on reflecting the  breadth of wonderful people we’ve worked and collaborated with.  From Princes, to Civil rights icons, to community leaders to the next generation of leaders we’ve been nurturing for the last 25 years. Thank you.

Chair Rita Patel said:

OBV has always been a team effort from its inception and was built by a group of volunteers from the ground up. It’s foundation is based on the principle of African, Asian and Caribbean communities working together for self empowerment and addressing the democratic deficit. It also entwines itself with the intersectionality of other disadvantaged and oppressed communities and groups - with the principle that our diverse but united voice make us all stronger. 

At this important milestone in the organisations journey we salute the women and men whose shoulders we stand upon: from Derek Hinds who came up with the name to Lee Jasper our founding Chair; from the late great Arlene Mundell whose streetwise spirit guided us to Francine Fernandes and Winsome Grace Cornish who worked tirelessly to deliver our OBV leadership programmes; Leon Green and Faz Hakim who worked on our Youth and Education programmes; our present board member and co-founders Audrey Adams, David Weaver, and Meena Dhobi; and the present staff Merlene Carrington, Sandra Stewart, Rafiq Maricar, Mayowa Ayodele, and Ashok Viswanathan. A massive thank you, it is because your tireless hard work and faith that we have reached this milestone today. 

Figureheads like Simon and myself are always the ones to be recognised because of our positions, and yet this organisation’s success would not be if it was not for the many.

About OBV

At our core, Operation Black Vote exists to ensure we have greater racial justice and equality throughout the UK. We work specifically, but not exclusively within the democratic and civic framework to deliver our objectives. We seek to inspire BME communities to engage with our public institutions in order to address the persistent race inequalities we face in areas such as: education, health and employment. 

Our work spans a number of areas including voter registration, lobbying politicians, mentoring schemes and political leadership programmes.