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Posts Tagged ‘anti-racism’

Isabella Fyvie Mayo was born in London in 1843. Her family were originally from Aberdeen, and after being widowed, in 1878, she moved to Aberdeen, staying there until her death in 1914. She was first and foremost a published novelist writing under the pen-name Edward Garrett, yet she was also an activist involved in numerous causes.

She was founder member of the Aberdeen branch of the Anti-Vivisection League (1906), starting and editing an Aberdeen (later Scottish) newsletter called ‘Our Fellow Mortals’. In 1893 she co-founded an anti-racism organisation called the (later ‘International’) Society for the Recognition of the Brotherhood of Man (1893 – 1897). This Society was inaugurated in Aberdeen with meetings addressed by African-American Ida B. Wells on the lynching of blacks in America. Mayo was President and contributed to the management of the society’s organ ‘Fraternity’. The Aberdeen branch was very active and other individuals invited to Aberdeen included West Indian proto-anti-imperialist Celestine Edwards, African American ex-Senator J. Green and future pan-Africanist J.E. Casely-Hayford. She was also temporary Secretary of the Aberdeen Ladies’ Educational Association.

She spoke at meetings of the Aberdeen EIS, Aberdeen Trades Union Council, at a Stop-the-War meeting in 1900 and at Women’s Social and Political Union Suffrage meetings in 1907. She often took to the platform recruiting members to join unions, talking on socialism and anti-imperialism, and on one occasion chaired a concert in aid of striking operative engineers. She moved in political circles, being friends with William Diack of the Social Democratic Federation and various Aberdeen trades council members. In 1894 she was the first woman elected to the Aberdeen School Board and did so supported by the male working class Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

From the 1890s she promoted Leo Tolstoy who had begun to write on religious, ethical and political themes and she considered herself a Tolstoyan anarchist – seeking to promote social revolution through the peaceful process of personal reformation.

References:  ‘A notable personality’: Isabella Fyvie Mayo in the public and private sphere of Aberdeen (Lindy Moore, Women’s History Review, 2013) and Recollections of What I Saw, What I Lived Through, and What I Learned, during more than Fifty Years of Social and Literary Experience (Isabella Fyvie Mayo, London, 1910).

Sources: unknown

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The group formed in late 2016 and launched an online campaign, to hear the many local voices of immigrants and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who live in north-east Scotland. The campaign is broad based bringing people together to celebrate diversity and respond to the recent rise of intolerance in the community. The group was active during the 2016 Aberdeen Trades Union Council St Andrew’s Day March.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

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The Grampian Regional Equality Council works to promote respect and combat discrimination for all people. At the end of the 1970s, Aberdeen welcomed Vietnamese families made refugees by the war in their country. It was realised that a support network was required and a committee of volunteers and representatives from local authorities and agencies was established. Over time, Grampian Community Relations Council came into being, then became Grampian Racial Equality Council and finally Grampian Regional Equality Council.

The organisation has led the way in promoting and campaigning for equality and diversity in the north-east of Scotland. The organisation also coordinates the North East Scotland Equalities Network (NESEN), formed in 2011, which aims to achieve equality in disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion and belief, through a network of public bodies and the voluntary sector.

References: Website.

Sources: unknown.

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A University of Aberdeen society which advertised in the Freshers’ magazines. The society were involved in numerous actions including two ‘sit-ins’ of University buildings.

The Southern Africa Solidarity Campaign was a national movement and launched in 1976 in response to the Soweto uprising. The campaign supported all movements fighting against apartheid and for liberation in Southern Africa.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown.

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The national movement was formed in 1959, with the so called ‘Boycott Movement’, which sought a boycott of South African products. In 1964, under pressure from campaigners and Aberdeen Trades Union Council, Aberdeen City Council took the decision of boycotting all goods. Alongside that and the same year, the University of Aberdeen student body imposed a ban on goods in the student union.

The University of Aberdeen Anti-Apartheid Society was active by 1972 and amongst other campaign work, staged ‘sit-ins’, to force the University to stop investment in South African firms subsidiaries. The University student association also called their building, Luthuli House, after the African National Congress (ANC) President Albert Luthuli.

There was also a formal Aberdeen group and they appear to have been formed around 1972 as well. Aberdeen also played a key part in the national campaign because the Chair of the national movement was Aberdeen M.P. Bob Hughes. Aberdeen was also the second city to grant Nelson Mandela a Freedom of the City award, in 1984 (after Glasgow). The group disbanded after the first democratic South African elections in 1994.

Related entries: Aberdeen Anti-Apartheid Group.

References: Aberdeen University Freshers’ magazines and Aberdeen Peoples Press.

Sources: There are though some student society papers relating to the ‘sit-ins’ at Aberdeen University Library. The national Anti-Apartheid Movement archives are held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford with the Scottish Committee papers at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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The national movement was formed in 1959, with the so called ‘Boycott Movement’, which sought a boycott of South African products. In 1964, under pressure from campaigners and Aberdeen Trades Union Council, Aberdeen City Council took the decision of boycotting all goods.

Although there were campaigners in Aberdeen throughout the 1960s, the formal Aberdeen group appear to have been formed around 1972. Aberdeen also played a key part in the national campaign because the Chair of the national movement was Aberdeen M.P. Bob Hughes. The group was supported by the Aberdeen Trades Union Council which provided financial support and a meeting space. A meeting space and contact point was also the Aberdeen Peace Centre (by the late 1980s). Aberdeen was also the second city to grant Nelson Mandela a Freedom of the City award, in 1984 (after Glasgow). The campaign disbanded after the first democratic South African elections in 1994, but a new national organisation was then established, again under the chair of Bob Hughes, called Action for Southern Africa (still going to this day).

Related entries: University of Aberdeen Anti-Apartheid Society

References: Aberdeen Peoples Press.

Sources: unknown. There are though some student society papers relating to the ‘sit-ins’ at Aberdeen University Library. The national Anti-Apartheid Movement archives are held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford with the Scottish Committee papers at Glasgow Caledonian University.

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There had been attempts to form an earlier society, in the 1788 – 1792 period, but that had proved unsuccessful. The Aberdeen Anti-Slavery Society though was founded at a public meeting at the Exchange News Rooms in Union Street in March 1825 (following the formation of organisations in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1822/1823). Its officers and committee members came from a wider circle than just the city of Aberdeen, including towns and villages across the north-east. The Society was active in campaigning and sold anti-slavery publications via George Brantingham’s grocer shop in the Gallowgate (Brantingham, a Quaker, was a key player as Society treasurer and also in later years after the Society folded and was revived under a different name).

The Society ended in 1833 and was replaced in 1836 by a new Aberdeen Emancipation Society (it lasted until c.1853). Also, in 1840, an Aberdeen Ladies’ Emancipation Society was formed, with a group called the Aberdeen Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association then active from 1843 – c.1849. Another organisation of the same name but perhaps a different organisation appeared again in 1857 and was active until c.1866.

References: article by C Duncan Rice ‘Abolitionists and Abolitionism in Aberdeen’ (Northern Scotland, 1972), The Scots Abolitionists 1833 – 1861 (C Duncan Rice, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1981), Aberdeen and the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire, 1770-1833 (Glen Doris, unpublished dissertation, 2007), issues of The Anti-Slavery Reporter (British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society) and website ‘A North-East Story: Scotland, Africa and Slavery in the Caribbean’.

Sources: A few printed items, mainly annual reports are held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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