About the Bernie Grant Collection

The late Bernie Grant MP led a remarkable life. Over 35 years, he was at the forefront of a furious dialogue about race in British society as a trades unionist and civil rights activist, as the first ever Black Leader of a local authority in Europe in Haringey, North London, as an outspoken Black Member of Parliament, and as an international campaigner.

A record of these crucial years is contained within Bernie’s papers, in books and magazines, memorabilia, correspondence, audio and video material and hundreds of photographs of meetings and demonstrations. Together they tell not only his story, but of the struggles of an entire generation of black and minority ethnic citizens who arrived in Britain in the post war period.

In partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Middlesex University the Bernie Grant Trust appointed a professional archivist to preserve, catalogue and make accessible, a permanent collection to be held at Middlesex University and on the web.

In addition to this a Guide to the Collection is available for schools and the community at large. Future plans include seeking further funding for outreach work, establishing a mobile exhibition to travel to schools and community centres throughout the country. We want to work in partnership with other archives and museums to develop joint exhibitions, both permanent and temporary. We wish to create not just a static physical archive, but a live, interactive experience that can and will be enjoyed by a wide range of people.

Bernie had a strong sense of his heritage, and strived in his lifetime to ensure that minority ethnic communities were in touch with their history. He was adamant that the present could not be understood without honesty about the past. He was especially aware that the achievements and experiences of Black communities had too often been “written out” of history. It is fitting therefore that his own life and times are properly recorded, and the collection provides a rich and unique resource for future generations who seek to understand a key period in the making of the multi-racial Britain.

In 2003, in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Middlesex University the Bernie Grant Trust appointed a professional archivist to preserve, catalogue and make accessible, a permanent collection to be held at Middlesex University and on the web. In 2010, with Middlesex University changing shape, the collection has found a new home at the prestigious Bishopsgate Institute in heart of the City of London, along with the archives of other labour movements and free thinkers of their day.

The Bernie Grant Trust is a charity, and relies on donations to maintain and preserve its unique archive, and to run social and educational projects using the collection. Please help us by giving today!  Click here or on the button below to make an online donation.


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Inventory of the Bernie Grant Archive