Bernie Grant MP

Celebrating the life and achievements of Bernie Grant, a political pioneer with an indomitable spirit

By The Voice Newspaper

Bernie Grant (1987) by Voice NewspaperThe Voice Newspaper

Protesting against racism

Bernie Grant came to the UK from Guyana in 1963 to be a mechanical engineer, and as a student joined protests against racism suffered by black students. 

Bernie Grant (1987) by Rod Leon/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

The first Black leader of Haringey Council

Bernie Grant later became a union official, and was a lead organiser of a postal workers strike in 1970. He was then elected as a councillor, and made history as the first Black leader of Haringey council in 1985.

Bernie Grant MP (1991) by Alamy /All Star Picture LibraryThe Voice Newspaper

In 1985, Grant became the focus of a tabloid hate campaign and was condemned from all sides after saying the police had got a hiding during the Broadwater Farm uprisings in the borough, as black youth rebelled against the oppressive ‘Sus’ laws. 

Bernie Grant MP (2014) by Stephen O'Connell/ AlamyThe Voice Newspaper

The controversy surrounding the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots did not prevent Bernie from being elected as MP for Tottenham at the 1987 general election - one of the UK's first Black British MPs. Bernie Grant (pictured) arriving at the Palace of Westminster, his first day as an MP.

Bernie Grant (1987) by Voice NewspaperThe Voice Newspaper

When Bernie Grant was elected to parliament in 1987, he posed outside the palace of Westminster in an African gown - an image of harmony and defiance. He was the political standard bearer for fighting racial inequality. Read more

Bernie Grant (1987) by PA ArchiveThe Voice Newspaper

Labour MPs sit together during the heated debate on Labour Black Sections on the final day of the party conference in Brighton, 1987. (l-r) Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott. Read more

Bernie Grant MP (1986) by Alamy/Brian HarrisThe Voice Newspaper

In 1989, Bernie established and chaired the Parliamentary Black Caucus, modelled after the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States. The organisation was committed to advancing the opportunities of Britain's ethnic minority communities.

Bernie Grant (1987) by Rod Leon/GettyThe Voice Newspaper

Bernie Grant and Jesse Jackson

Bernie Grant accompanied Rev Jesse Jackson in 1990 to South Africa, greeting Nelson Mandela on the day of his release. Bernie later established an information technology centre amid the townships in the Free State, named after him.

Bernie Grant MP (1986) by Alamy/PA MediaThe Voice Newspaper

Bernie Grant MP

Grant was a controversial figure long before he became one of Britain's first black MPs. His forceful character built up a loyal following among the unemployed and the black community. (l-r) Diane Abbott, Keith Vaz, Bernie and Paul Boateng Read more about Grant's legacy here

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