2010: Black History Month

In October 2010 ASLEF held its first event celebrating Black History Month.

A report on the event from Floyd Doyle, the BEM Representative Committee Chair, appeared in the January 2011 Journal:

Last October was the first time the union organised an event around Black History month, and the reception we held at Head Office combined a social occasion with invited guests giving some background to the campaign and to other relevant issues.

Atta Yaqub from ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ talked about racism in football down the years and explained how the organisation had started. He had plenty of interesting stories as you would imagine. One was about the then Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop was racially abused at a petrol station by  his own Magpies fans. They then realised who he was – and wanted his autograph!  We don’t know if they got it …

Professor Reg Davies spoke about the history of ethnic minorities on the footplate, explaining that a lot came over here in the 50’s to help out the ‘mother country’ with its shortage of labour at the time. As part of the Commonwealth they regarded themselves as ‘British’ and many were disappointed not to find themselves welcomed as they expected they would be.

Both speakers gave us a lot of interesting  facts and figures – as well as a few horror stories on the racism that was encountered by black and ethnic minorities whilst just trying to do their jobs and feed their families like any other worker.

One of our own committee members, Aaron Clapp, has been worked hard to compile what he calls ‘a living history’ of retired black and ethnic drivers by interviewing some of them at their homes and attending a Kings Cross reunion to interview others. He’s also interviewed white drivers to get their perspective on attitudes to working with black and ethnic drivers during the early years, and to explore how things have changed. This is an ongoing project and Aaron is still accumulating information. It was very interesting to see the different perspectives of how black and white drivers viewed their treatment, and how attitudes have changed over time.

The General Secretary opened the meeting and there was a good turn-out from lay members, the Executive Committee and ASLEF’s Women’s Committee. We’re all grateful to the union’s Equal Opportunities Administrator Lee James for organising food and refreshments.

It was a successful event and we’re eager to put on another next year. Hopefully we’ll see you all there!

%d bloggers like this: