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Black Workers Group exhibition at the Camden50 closing event

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Jerry Williams

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Former Camden mayor Jerry Williams received a dewy-eyed standing ovation at his leaving do at Kentish Town Community Centre in June 2009. Mr Williams, the borough’s first black mayor and a popular trustee of the community centre had lived in Camden for more than 50 years. A lifelong activist who worked on the railway after immigrating to London from Barbados in 1956, Mr Williams was instrumental in the campaign to create the Talacre Open Space, the 1975 opening of which he described as “the happiest day of my life”. In a speech to fellow campaigners and trustees, Mr Williams said he would make good use of the free train travel he receives as a former train guard to visit Camden regularly. After a vote, the Town Hall executive decided to grant Town Green status to the Talacre Open Space, meaning it cannot be built upon. But he warned campaigners: “Don’t take your eye off the ball. They [the council] might change the goalposts and then you will have to fight for the Talacre again.”


Bob Marley’s first home in the UK was in the Borough of Camden

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The Jamaican-born star lived at 34 Ridgmount Gardens, Camden, for 2 months when he first came to the UK in 1972. A heritage plaque commemorating the first London home of reggae legend Bob Marley and describing him as a singer, lyricist and Rastafarian icon, was unveiled in October 2006. Marley died from cancer in 1981 but still has millions of fans across the globe. Ridgmount Gardens was the first of several British homes he lived in during 1972, the year Bob Marley and the Wailers signed to Island Records.

Bob Marley quote: “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect and I don't live to be but before you start pointing fingers...make sure your hands are clean!”


Kingslee James Daley aka Akala

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Kingslee James Daley, better known by the stage name Akala, is an English rapper, poet, and journalist. Originally from Kentish Town, his older sister is rapper/vocalist Ms. Dynamite. In 2006, he was voted the Best Hip Hop Act at the MOBO Awards. Kingslee James Daley was born the son of a Jamaican father and Scottish mother and grew up in the Camden area of London, without the presence of his father. He was talented in numerous ways at a young age, including football where he was in both the West Ham United and Wimbledon youth teams, only to have his chances of playing professionally ended by injury. He was seen in the Sky Sports advertisement for Copa América 1999 performing football skills in a Brazilian-like kit.[3] Daley was also regarded as a talented mathematician, and offered places at prestigious universities. He declined these, looking instead towards a career in the music industry.


Kunle Olulode, Director for Voice 4 Change

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Kunle Oluode comes with a wealth of experience gained from running policy teams in the voluntary sector and local government and a former Convenor of Camden Black Workers Group. An active campaigner within the trade union movement, he has a strong record of building partnerships with leading national and international organisations, having also worked abroad in Spain and in the USA for groups such as Tommie Smith Youth Movement and 100 Black Men of Southern California. He has keen interest in the arts particularly Black History and Film and was a founder member of the award winning Camden Black History Forum Email.


Nasim Ali, former Mayor of the Camden Council

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Nasim "Nash" Ali, OBE (Bengali: নাসিম আলী; born 7 February 1969) is a British Labour Party politician, councillor for Regent's Park, former Cabinet Member for Young People in Camden Council and former Mayor of Camden. In May 2003, at the age of 34, after being elected Mayor of Camden he became UK's youngest mayor as well as the first Bangladeshi and first Muslim mayor. Nasim Ali was born in Islam Pur, Shaporan, Sylhet District, Sylhet Division, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and came to the United Kingdom at the age of seven. He grew up on the Regent's Park Estate. He attended Netley Primary School and South Camden Community School.


Raj Chada, former Leader of Camden Council

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Moving to Camden in 1999, Mr Chada says he fell in love with a place where community was thriving. In his professional life, Mr Chada has won awards as a criminal lawyer specialising in free speech rights and working with demonstration groups, such as the Occupy movement. It was the race riots of 2001 which prompted Mr Chada to become an active Labour member locally. By 2002, he was elected as a Camden councillor and became leader of the Labour administration from 2005 to 2006. During his time at the council he met his wife, who was also a councillor, and with whom he has children. Mr Chada still lives in Camden and is now a partner at Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors.


David Pitt, the Lord Pitt of Hampstead

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The late Lord David Pitt of Hampstead was the longest serving black Parliamentarian, having been granted a life peerage in 1975. He spent his life speaking out for the underrepresented black community in Great Britain. In 1975 Prime Minister Harold Wilson appointed Pitt to the House of Lords as Lord Pitt of Hampstead. According to Pitt himself, however, his most valued honour was his election as president of the British Medical Association from 1985 to 1986, a position few general practitioners achieve. While regularly featuring among the guests invited to Independence celebrations in sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1960s, Pitt became increasingly committed to the fight for Civil Rights for the minority ethnic populations of Britain. Inspired by the example of Martin Luther king in the United States, Pitt launched the short-lived but influential Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. He went on to spend nearly a decade as the deputy chair of the Community Relations Commission, a forerunner of today’s Commission for Racial Equality.

In May 2000, the encouragement of Camden’s then mayor, Roy Shaw, the Council installed a commemorative plaque at the house in North Gower Street, NW1 that had served as Pitt’s surgery for more than three decades.


Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president

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Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994. His administration replaced the racist white-minority regime that had enforced segregation of black and white people in a policy known as apartheid. During the 1960s the exiled Anti-Apartheid Movement had its headquarters in the unassuming backwater of Camden Town, then called Selous Street. It was later renamed Mandela Street in November 1985 by Camden Council - at a time when Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island and Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government were still denouncing the African National Congress as terrorists.

When Nelson Mandela passed away, The Leader of the Council, Councillor Sarah Hayward said “Camden has a strong and proud history of support for the anti-apartheid movement, and today is a very sad day here and across the world as we mourn a man who was a friend of Camden and did so much to change the face of the world.”


Beryl Gilroy, London’s first black headteacher

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Beryl Gilroy married a white Englishman, Patrick, in 1959. As the parents of two ‘mixed race’ children, Darla and Paul, they dealt with the prejudices of both their working and middle class contemporaries. Beryl Gilroy was a novelist and teacher, and "one of Britain's most significant post-war Caribbean migrants". Born in what was then British Guiana (now Guyana), she moved in the 1950s to the United Kingdom, where she became the first black headteacher in London. She was the mother of academic Paul Gilroy. Although Gilroy was a qualified teacher, racism prevented her getting a post for some time, and she had to work as a washer, a factory clerk and maid. She taught for a couple of years, married and spent the next 12 years at home bringing up and educating her children Darla and Paul, furthering her own higher education, reviewing and reading for a publisher. In 1968 she returned to teaching and eventually became the first Black headteacher in London, at Beckford School in West Hampstead.


Baroness Amos, created a Labour Life Peer in 1997, becoming Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council.

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Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, PC (born 13 March 1954) was the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. In the 1980s she worked in Equal Opportunities, Training and Management Services in several London local authorities including Camden, where she worked in the women’s unit. Before her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a Labour Life Peer in 1997, becoming Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. Amos has also been Deputy Chair of the Runnymede Trust (1990–98), a Trustee of the Institute for Public Policy Research, a non-executive Director of the University College London Hospitals Trust, a Trustee of Voluntary Services Overseas, Chair of the Afiya Trust, a director of Hampstead Theatre and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Royal College of Nursing Institute.