The George Padmore Institute (GPI) was set up in 1991 and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It is an archive and research centre which grew out of a community of political and cultural activists connected with New Beacon Books, Britain’s first black publisher and bookshop (1966), and its co-founder John La Rose. This group of passionate individuals were committed to racial, political and social justice for black and Asian communities both in Britain and internationally from the mid-1960s on. An ethos of self-help and belief in the power of collective effort and alliances underpinned the many organisations that were set up to deal with political and social issues faced by the black community in the UK and which are now part of the GPI archive. These organisations include the Black Parents Movement, the Black Education Movement and the New Cross Massacre Action Committee among others. Main image: Co-founders of the George Padmore Institute, Gus John, John La Rose and Sarah White after a meeting with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in 1999.
The GPI also holds the archives of pioneering cultural organisations such as the Caribbean Artists Movement and the International Book Fairs of Radical Black and Third World Books. Internationally, our collections include The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya (co-founded by acclaimed author Ngugi wa Thiong’o and John La Rose) and European Action for Racial Equality and Social Justice. Starting from scratch, milestones in our thirty years as an archive include: the purchase of our very first computer in 1997; our volunteers being trained for the first time in preserving and cataloguing archive materials in 1999; receiving our first major Heritage Lottery Fund grant for our three-year Changing Britannia project in 2000; and appointing our first fully qualified Archivist in 2003. That Archivist, Sarah Garrod, is still with us today and has built up a wealth of knowledge about the GPI.
These are the foundations which set the GPI up for the many years of activities thereafter – watch this space for future posts about them.Over the past thirty years, the GPI has catalogued collections to provide access to individuals, researchers, students, schools and anyone interested in the social, economic and cultural history of Black British communities. It also runs educational and cultural activities including residencies for writers and musicians, exhibitions, conferences, courses, seminars, talks and readings, as well as publishing books and other materials. Find out more about the GPI and its archive collections by visiting their archive page: