October Dialogues event at Nottingham Contemporary was the first of its kind
On 28 October 2015, the Centre for Research in Race and Rights in collaboration with Bright Ideas Nottingham, Nottingham Contemporary and The Monitoring Group held a day-long conference called Black Lives Matter: The Past, Present and Future of an International Movement for Rights and Justice. It was our first annual October Dialogues, the first Black Lives Matter conference in Europe, and attracted over 200 attendees. It brought together academics and activists to analyse the Black Lives Matter movement, its origins, heritage, transatlantic dynamics and its future in the UK.
Four panels interrogated Black Lives Matter as an intersectional, international, Civil Rights, and Black Power movement. The talks and discussion by activists and early career researchers demonstrated that Black Lives Matter both draws from past social justice movements and is a new, global and intersectional movement focused on race, class, gender, and sexuality. The use of social media has established a paradigm shift in grassroots organising and a democratic movement structure.
We also heard closing remarks from Justin Hansford and Stafford Scott. Justin is an activist, lawyer, scholar and law professor, who has been at the forefront of legal organizing and advocacy in the aftermath of the murder of Mike Brown. After facing arrest for his protesting efforts, he co-authored the Ferguson to Geneva human rights shadow report, and accompanied the Ferguson protesters and Mike Brown’s family to Geneva to testify at the United Nations. He has served as a policy advisor for proposed post-Ferguson reforms at the local, state, and federal level, including the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Stafford has been involved in the black civil rights struggle in the UK since the late 1970s, and has helped many victims of racism over the past 30 years, including the family of Mark Duggan. He was a co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign in 1985, and is now a community activist and Race Advocacy worker responsible for casework across North London. He helped to establish the Tottenham Defence Campaign after the death of Mark Duggan and now coordinates Tottenham Rights. He is also a staff member at the Monitoring Group, a leading anti-racist charity that promotes civil rights, family-led empowerment and justice campaigns in the UK.
In the evening we heard keynotes from internationally renowned scholars Dr. Monica Miller and Dr. James Peterson, both experts on Hip Hop and social justice based at Lehigh University, and performances by the MOBO award-winning hip hop artist, writer, poet, and educator Akala, and local hip hop artists Kriss Riss and Aye Nizzy.
The following morning, activists met for a workshop that built on the themes of the conference, and formed the UK’s first Black Lives Matter chapter, to join those that exist across the United States. Lisa Robinson from Bright Ideas Nottingham, our partner on the event, is also running a four week course in the community beginning November 12 called Black Lives Matter: Nottingham Legacies, that will explore the birth of this new social justice movement and its relevance to Nottingham.
You can see part one of the October Dialogues conference on YouTube with the second part provided on YouTube as well. You can also see a selection of photographs from the day, and read the live-tweets via the hashtag #BlackLivesMatterUK. BBC Radio Nottingham featured the conference and you can listen to Lisa Robinson’s interview about it.
C3R thanks all speakers, attendees, and organisers who turned this idea into a reality, as well as the British Academy for its funding. We look forward to welcoming you next year for the second instalment of the October Dialogues!
Posted on Tuesday 3rd November 2015