Coming of Age: the road to 1977 and the birth anti racist movements


This project was a Heritage Lottery Funded project which charted the events of 1976 and the birth of the Monitoring Group.

Everyone who grew up in the 1970’s will remember the long hot summer of 1976, however for many young people the summer was a ‘coming of age’, a moment when British youth, both black and white, challenged the engrained racism of the 1970’s and began to forge a new vision for Britain.

Over the past year we have been digging into archives, researching, and collecting stories to tell the stories of the young people from London, who in 1976 took direct action to tackle racism, altered the debate on racism, and in time developed the multicultural Britain we all know today.  The stories focus on the series of events which occurred during 1976 including Malawi refugee crisis in January, the birth of Southall Youth Movement in June, the Notting Hill riots in August, the start of the Grunwick Strike in August, the birth of Rock against Racism in November, and the enactment of the Race Relations Act in December.

There have been various heritage projects which have told aspects of the different events, but no project has linked the series of events into a cohesive narrative. Our research in preparation for this shows that there is an overwhelming demand by people from the earlier generations of migrants to emphasis how different communities worked together in the past. Many of the individuals who were activist in 1976 are now much older, and their stories have never been told, and their contribution to building the modern multicultural London is mostly unacknowledged.  This project provided an opportunity to document their stories.

Activities during the project

During the project we held exhibition of the project at Glasgow University, and the timelines from the project were part of the exhibition about black art and history at Nottingham Contemporary gallery from 4th February to 1st May 2017. We will also be holding a exhibition in Southall in 2018, please contact us for more information.

We also held a number of workshops and history walks during the project, we will be shortly upload the maps and resources from these events onto our website.

We captured the testimonies of 11 people during the project, and 9 of the testimonies are available to read on our website.

Resources from the project

We have made the following resources for future use.

Schools pack

We have a school’s loans box consisting of the book, worksheets and images. This is available for loan for period of two weeks.

Exhibition material

The project has allowed us to produce a exhibition consisting of two large canvas prints which charts the history of anti racism in the UK from 1901 to 1976. Alongside this we have 20 framed prints of events and individuals. The exhibition is available for hire.


This book is about anti-racist activism in 1976. The events of 1976; the hostility to Asian refugees, the Grunwick strike, the birth of Southall Youth Movement, riots at Notting Hill carnival, and birth of Rock against Racism are often told separately, as unique events. History, however, is not a series of unique events. these events are inter-connected stories and form part of a longer story of racism and its resistance in Britain. In the book, we recount the memories of the activists who challenged the everyday racism present in the 1970s, and whose contributions have helped to create modern Britain. The politics they practised was not learnt through books, but through everyday lived experiences, and through an understanding of their own personal histories of migration and its relationship to colonialism. Their activities have left a lasting legacy on British politics, art and culture.

Through oral histories, timelines, images and references for further reading, we chart the journey of anti-racism from 1919 to 1976, making this a useful resource for students, teachers, and others wanting to learn about the resistance to racism in Britain.


Information from the website is also available online at this link



For further information contact us at the head office or contact Jagdish Patel on 07792 528764

The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund