Olive Morris 1952 – 1979
We’re celebrating Black History Month at X1 Lettings. This week, read all about the incredible Olive Morris who achieved so much in her short life.
Olive Morris was born in Jamaica in 1953. Aged 9, she joined her family who had migrated to London.
At 16, Olive was involved in a police incident which would subsequently ignite her racial activism.
A Nigerian diplomat was accused of stealing his own car. Refusing to believe him, the police beat him in the street.
Olive quickly ran over to try and stop them. She couldn’t stand by and watch a black man be racially profiled and discriminated against. Consequently, Olive was arrested. She was assaulted and racially abused by the police.
Grassroots Activism ✊🏿
The police incident spurred Olive on to campaign against systemic racism in the UK.
Therefore, she joined the British Black Panther Movement. They were dedicated to fighting state racism.
In 1973 Olive became a founding member of the Brixton Black Women’s Group. The group was formed in response to racist police attacks.
It was one of the first networks for black women in the UK, and rallied them to engage in politics and fight back against inequality.
Squatter’s rights 🏚️
Olive became a huge force behind the squatter’s rights movement.
She, along with others, squatted in buildings across Brixton, most notably in 121 Railton Road. This became a HQ for the British Black Panthers.
It was later turned into the Sabaar Bookshop, one of the first Black community book shops in Brixton.
A life cut short
Olive continued her activism throughout the 1970’s, thus becoming a founding member of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent in 1978.
The same year, Olive was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After undergoing unsuccessful treatment, she died aged 27 on 12th July 1979.
Although her life was sadly cut short, Olive Morris achieved so much. She was a key figure in progressing the feminist movement and the fight against racial oppression. Through her work, she has left behind an incredible legacy.
Protect her legacy 🖤
In 2015 Olive Morris became the face of the Brixton pound.
Lambeth Council honoured her in 1986 by naming the offices at 18 Brixton Hill, Olive Morris House. However, the offices were demolished in 2020.
Because of this, there is now a petition to erect a memorial statue of Olive Morris in Brixton’s Windrush Peace Garden.
Sign the petition HERE and help keep her legacy alive.