Importance of working together to change race inequality in Derbyshire

Looking back on a most eventful year in which two global phenomena – namely the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have both unearthed fractured lines in society, those related to race equality and racial justice.

In Britain the disproportionate effect of the coronavirus on black communities coalesced with the “seismic shifts” represented by the Black Lives Matter protests across Britain over the summer.

The Black Lives Matter movement and the mass protests at the killing of George Floyd in the USA means that the conversation for racial justice become more relevant than ever.

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In the wake of the mass protest across Britain, the black community of Derbyshire entered the conversation concerning their exclusion and isolation from the city’s and county’s structures of influence and power. Since June the black community in Derby has been responding to the murder of George Floyd in the USA, endemic to systematic anti-black racism in the UK.

The first rally held in Derby was joined by many young black people and their allies. The peaceful rally of some 2000 people was probably the greatest spontaneous political action in Derby in living memory.

Many who participated in the rally were descendants of Derby’s Windrush Generation’ whose parents settled in the city and county in the early 1950s. Post war UK governments encouraged and sponsored people in the Caribbean to come and live and work in the UK. Within Derby they were employed in such industries as Rolls Royce, Celanese, Qualcast, British Rail and the public sector such as the NHS. The Black community has made a significant contribution to the city of Derby and the county.

More than 70 years on, the Windrush Generation produced ‘The Black Lives Matter Derby Manifesto A Charter For Change’. The manifesto identified the changes needed in the city/county to tackle issues of inequality, discrimination and structural racism. The document was presented to politicians and representatives of the key local sectors.

Derby’s black community has presented its agenda for change. So, let us all work together for this change.

Professor Cecile Wright chairs Black Lives Matter Derby Organisation.