May 24 2013 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Around 200 people came together on Sunday to commemorate 25 years since the UK’s first black and ethnic minority politicians, including former Tottenham MP Bernie Grant, were elected to Parliament.
The event, titled A Great Day in Britain, took place at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in Town Hall Approach Road, South Tottenham, on Sunday evening.
It marked the 25th anniversary of when Paul Boateng, Diane Abbott, Keith Vaz and the late Bernie Grant were elected as MPs in the general election of June 11, 1987.
Labour politicians Mr Vaz and Ms Abbott, both still serving as MPs, attended the commemoration as did Tottenham MP David Lammy and House of Lords peer Baroness Young of Hornsey.
Mr Grant’s widow Sharon told the Journal: “I think people found it really quite moving, people spoke about how difficult it had been for those first four MPs.
“The expectations on them when they got in were quite enormous. We had the media parked outside our house for two years solid, everytime we scratched our nose we had cameras pointed at us.
“This is one of the reasons for having this kind of commemoration, to make sure young people know about the pressures these MPs faced.”
Last Sunday’s event began with a show involving performances from comedian Shazia Mirza, award-winning poet Opal Palmer Odisa and Calypsonian Alexander D Great.
Guests also enjoyed a dinner followed by the unveiling of a special anniversary photo recently taken in Westminster Hall of over 40 of Parliament’s current black and ethnic minority MPs and peers.
The photo was shown alonside an iconic image of the first four MPs on the day of their election in 1987.
Mrs Grant said: “There are now 28 black and ethnic minority MPs and over 40 peers in the House of Lords.
“We think that’s quite an achievement over 25 years, no one would have expected that we would have had that representation 25 years ago.”
Crowds on the night also heard speeches from Mr Lammy, as well as addresses from Mr Vaz and Baroness Young.