At a Black Lives Matter rally today (13 June) in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, the rally’s organiser, Morning Star supporter Pete Stevenson, read out this stirring message from veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and communist Ken Keable. There were over 200 people at the rally and the message was warmly received. Social distancing was strictly observed.
In 1968, when I was 23 years old, and again in 1970, I was sent into apartheid South Africa to help the African National Congress in its epic struggle against the racist apartheid regime. Together with other young white people, who later became known as the London Recruits, I distributed thousands of illegal leaflets and set up a street broadcast using an amplified cassette player. Our story has been told in my book, London Recruits – the secret war against apartheid, and is now being made into a film.
For medical reasons, I can’t attend today’s rally, but I am with you in spirit.
After all these years, my commitment to anti-racism is undimmed. I am thrilled to see so many people, especially young people, taking to the streets all over the world to fight state racism, to assert that black lives matter and to demand the removal of monuments that honour slave traders and slave owners.
To those who toppled the statue of Edward Colston I say, thank you. To those who want them prosecuted, I say, removing an obscenity is not a crime!
Capitalism in Britain was founded on the enslavement of African people. The British capitalist class was up to its neck in the crime of slavery. The royal family invested heavily in the slave trade. To facilitate the trade, the government even created a new unit of currency, the guinea, which represented the price of one black human being captured or purchased on the Guinea Coast of West Africa. The British Empire could not have lasted a single day without official, state-sponsored racist ideology and race discrimination. These are facts that our education system, and our own self-education, must address.
Racism in Britain is not only the product of history. It is promoted and sustained by powerful forces in British society. These are the monopoly capitalist class, the tax-dodging multi-millionaires, the parasites in the City of London finance houses and those in the media who support them. They need us workers to be divided by race, gender, religion and in every possible way in order to ensure that we do not unite against them. They also need racism to gain public support for their never-ending wars. To the young people who are here today I say, join a union! Build the unity of the working class! Solidarity forever! Thank you for coming todayMessage from Mr Ken Keable of Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Somerset
Ken Keable is the District Secretary of the CPB for SW England & Cornwall and Secretary of our Somerset branch. For a trailer for the upcoming film about the London Recruits, see https://vimeo.com/398794480