Thursday, 30 August 2007


Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, Diane Abbott, Lee Jasper, Doreen Lawrence and many other key BME figures graced the Economics of Colour conference in Westminster last week.

The conference was part of the Economics of Colour five day tour which is being headed by Rev. Jackson up and down the UK. The event commemorated the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery conference whilst also launching Equanomics UK, a 1990 Trust initiative which is “committed to equality through economics”. The initiative aims to “strive to change the face of equalities and provide an even playing field for all deprived members of society, through combined efforts of the grassroots, the private sector, educational institutions and political organisations”.

The conference began with a presentation showing BME (black minority ethnic) key figures such as Nelson Mandela, Angela Davies, Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur and Bob Marley – just to name a few. Each figure received a round of applause and cheers as the audience stood in admiration and pride.

Tony Benn, former MP and Cabinet Minister was the first to deliver a speech and he told the audience “treat people as you wish to be treated yourself,” he then went on to say that all the great religions teach us this.

Dipen Rajyaguru from the Hindu Council UK urged that the BME community needed to “mobilise their votes” and Rajyguru called for unity in order for us to gain economic justice and empowerment.

Tahir Alam from the Muslim Council UK also called for unity and collaborative working.

Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote declared “I am a proud descendant of a slave,” he then went on to say “to me they weren’t slaves that was my family”.

Diane Abbott who recently celebrated 20 years as an MP, touched on the issue of gang/gun crime and how it is not an issue specific to black youth but an issue that concerns disaffected, alienated poverty stricken youth. Abbott also discussed the failure of schools to black children and the desperate need for political and economical advancement of the BME community.

Rev. Jackson was last to speak and he delivered a gripping speech in which he informed the BME community that we must not “self-degrade”. The two times presidential candidate also said “in Britain we are not beggars and borrowers, we are buyers, menders, investors and builders” and we need to demand “economic power because we spend”.