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36 | T H E V O I C E FEBRUARY 7 - 13, 2013

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Edited by Margaret Andrews and Janet Browne For Huntley Archive and the Victoria & Albert Museum

Jessica and Eric Huntley, radical book publishers and pioneering Black political activists, campaigners and educationalists from British Guiana, have been prolifically involved with the British African Caribbean community’s experience from their arrival in England in late 1950s to the present.


OR OVER 50 years the Huntleys participated in most of the significant grassroots campaigns for racial and social justice that occurred on the national and international scene, including the Black supplementary schools movement of the 1960s and 70s, the Black Parents Movement which campaigned against the controversial ‘Sus’ laws and organised legal defence for Black and Asian people arrested during the Southall riots of 1979, the New Cross Massacre Action Committee, organisers of the 1981 Black People’s Day of Action march that attracted 20,000 Black Britons from all over the country and was the largest

protest march of Black Britons to take place in Britain, and patronage of the Keskidee Centre, Britain’s first African-Caribbean cultural centre from the 1970s to the 1990s. The Huntleys were also active in international campaigns to end the South African apartheid regime, political repression in their home country Guyana and free American, former Black Panther and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal who was on death row in Pennsylvania. Their publishing house, Bogle L’Ouverture Publications Limited published landmark texts by Walter Rodney and Bernard Coard. The Huntley’s political lives began in British Guiana where they were active in pressing for independence from British colonial rule through their membership of the socialist People’s Progressive Party. Eric Huntley was a founder member of the party that was established on 1 January 1950. Eric emigrated to England in 1956 and Jessica in 1958. Whilst Eric was in England Jessica ran, unsuccessfully for parliamentary elections for the People’s Progressive Party in New Amsterdam. She joined Eric in England in 1958. In that same year Jessica toured Eastern Europe and represented

©LMA Bookcover of Bogle L’Ouverture’s published book by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Dread Beat & Blood, 1975

©V&A A Harlot’s Progress, William Hogarth, London, 1732

For over 50 years the Huntleys participated in most of the significant grassroots campaigns for racial and social justice that occurred on the national and international scene Guyana at an International Conference of Women. The couple became involved with international campaigns particularly about their home country (Committee Against Repression in Guyana (CARIG), Guyana Symposium, Committee of Concerned West Indians, the wider Caribbean including the Grenada revolution (Black Parents Movements’ Grenada campaign), Southern African Liberation Solidarity Group, America, with Jessica Huntley’s work to free MumiaAbu Jamal and the killing of Mikey Smith, poet in Jamaica. ‘How the West Indian Child is made Educationally SubNormal in the British Education System’ (Bernard

Coard, 1971) summed up the Black community’s experience of state education and sparked a movement of independent community action. The Huntleys attended meetings, gave speeches, financially supported and helped to articulate the direction of- the Caribbean Teachers Association and the Caribbean Parents Group. Jessica and Eric Huntley established their own educational community initiatives including the Peter Moses Supplementary School, based in Ealing and operated from 1986 to 1991 and the CaribEurope Pupil Exchange Program, a collaboration between the Black communities in London and Paris, set up to organise trips to the West Indies for young people of Caribbean

descent living in Europe. B o g l e - L’ O u v e r t u r e Publications Limited, specialists in books from and about the Caribbean, Africa, AfricanAmerica and Asia was founded in 1969 by Eric and Jessica Huntley. The bookshop became a a centre for cultural and artistic activities, including book launches, poetry readings, political and other events, often involving contributions from visitors from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and Asia. Jessica was Co-director of the Radical Black and Third World Book Fair. Eric and Jessica’s deposited their archives at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in 2005, the first major deposit of records from the African Caribbean community in London. An Annual Huntley Conference features topics from their archives and this year’s conference, ‘Educating Our Children: Liberating Our Futures’ takes place on Jessica’s 86th birthday on 23rd February. Professor Beverley Bryan will be the keynote speaker. On 20th February, Professor, Sir Hilary Beckles addresses the first International Huntley Symposium.

This page is sponsored by the Victoria and Albert Museum

They did all this whilst raising a family of three and now in their eighties, Jessica and Eric continue to publish (see Hart, R. 2012) and are actively engaged in political, social and cultural issues related to justice and equality.


Explore gems from the V&A’s rich collection alongside items from the Eric and Jessica Huntley Archives. Join activist and educator Eric Huntley and historian S I Martin and compare objects, share histories, contrast narratives, and uncover new stories of community struggles in the UK. Includes a performance from the winner of the 2012 Queens Gold Medal for Poetry John Agard. Event is jointly organised with The Huntley Archives at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). All tickets £9, £6 concessions are currently 2-4-1 when you quote ‘Huntley241’ To book call 020 7942 2211 or visit

V&A: Huntley Event  

Explore gems from the V&A’s rich collection alongside items from the Eric and Jessica Huntley Archives. Join activist and educator Eric Hunt...

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