logo

‘We Have the Right To Be Here’ is an oral history and analysis of some of the black and anti-racist movements of post-war Britain, told by three activists in an interview conducted by poet and educator, Sam Berkson. Suresh Grover, Frances Webber and Colin Prescod talk of their first-hand involvement in groundbreaking events of the British anti-racist and anti-fascist struggle. From the response to the racist murder of Kelso Cochrane in Notting Hill 1959, to Asian Youth Movements in Southall in the 1970s, the case of the ‘Bradford 12’ in 1981, to the Stephen Lawrence justice campaign in the 1990s, the activists tell how successful movements came together to challenge the state and the far-right. Talking from their personal experience at the heart of the struggle, Grover, Webber and Prescod analyse the dynamics of state racism and people’s resistance to it. They reflect on how victories have been won and how much more work there is to do.’The interview was conducted at the Institute of Race Relations in summer 2019, and contains footage, photographs and archive material from many of the struggles mentioned.
Running time: 1 hour 21 mins
Join us after the screening for a discussion with Frances, Suresh and Sam! 
https://cytu.be/r/we_have_the_right_to_be_here

A few of years ago we held an open meeting to discuss with the wider MDR community how we could develop the space, archive and program in more collective, inclusive and interesting ways. Since then we have tried to cultivate a building and the organisation as a non-sectarian space, where groups and individuals come together to collectively work on archives, document their struggles and organise against the current state of things. This has up to now relied on our building on 88 Fleet street, but since the health crisis started we can’t do that anymore.

We want to think through what the ongoing Covid19 pandemic means for MDR, when access to the building and the archives are severely limited. Since the start of the pandemic we have been thinking of ways to work collaboratively on archives and the different ways of distributing content. However as corona changes the ways we interact, collaborate and support each other for a long time to come, we want to discuss how to move forward with the wider MDR community.

In order to have this conversation we will be having a public open meeting at 6pm on 9th December. Please come along if you’ve previously been involved at MDR, used the archive, have come to a meeting or a social, or would just like to get involved. Bring ideas, creativity and fighting spirit!

Sign up here to receive the zoom link

Join us for a series of workshops where we will be pooling our collective knowledge around current and historical abolitionist struggles. Led by Hajera Begum and Azfar Shafi (Abolitionist Futures) the first workshop will provide an insight into recent abolitionist organising and outline what abolition could look like in the British context. The workshop will cover struggles against police, prisons and immigration policing, and the work of building and rooting abolitionist and emancipatory politics – with organisers from the Reclaim Holloway campaign and campaigners against immigration policing.

Recently we have been developing a collection around prison abolition and police abolition. This is in it’s early stages but we are inviting those attending the workshop to bring contribution that you think might be relevant to this collection or speaks to your own work. We mean material in the broadest sense of the world – could be a poster, meme, note, flyer, audio recording, pamphlet etc, gif etc.

During the second half of the workshop we will be showing you the archival material we have been gathering as part of our online archive Leftove.rs. Then we will be discussing how this and the material that you bring can be turned into an online resource about abolitionist struggles past and present. A second session on Saturday 21 November 1-4pm BST will involve delving into our personal archives and May Day Rooms online collections to generate an online scrapbook together.

If you would like to send any documents in advance please send them to anthony@maydayrooms.org and we can share them on the screen during the session.

To sign up click here

Join us for a series of workshops where we will be pooling our collective knowledge around current and historical abolitionist struggles. Led by Hajera Begum and Azfar Shafi (Abolitionist Futures) the first workshop will provide an insight into recent abolitionist organising and outline what abolition could look like in the British context. The workshop will cover struggles against police, prisons and immigration policing, and the work of building and rooting abolitionist and emancipatory politics – with organisers from the Reclaim Holloway campaign and campaigners against immigration policing.

Recently we have been developing a collection around prison abolition and police abolition. This is in it’s early stages but we are inviting those attending the workshop to bring contribution that you think might be relevant to this collection or speaks to your own work. We mean material in the broadest sense of the world – could be a poster, meme, note, flyer, audio recording, pamphlet etc, gif etc.

During the second half of the workshop we will be showing you the archival material we have been gathering as part of our online archive Leftove.rs. Then we will be discussing how this and the material that you bring can be turned into an online resource about abolitionist struggles past and present. A second session on Saturday 21 November 1-4pm BST will involve delving into our personal archives and May Day Rooms online collections to generate an online scrapbook together.

If you would like to send any documents in advance please send them to anthony@maydayrooms.org and we can share them on the screen during the session.

To sign up click here

It’s hard to party in the times of COVID, so in lieu of a monthly social we will be putting on a Halloween online screening of The Masque of the Red Death. This is an admittedly rather silly 1960s genre-horror adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic tale of how the ruling classes behave during epidemics (with Prince Prospero played by Vincent Price) , and how their cruelty will lead to their ferocious comeuppance, cloaked in red. We’ll also be playing a little contribution by Anne Boyer on Poe’s tale and the current pandemic. And afterwards we will be chattering and nattering away on zoom, over a few beers. Do come and watch with us! Link here.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have been searching online archives for radical responses to healthcare around the world. We’ve found a wealth of materials, from the Black Panther organised Free Health Clinics, the self-organised pharmacies and clinics movement in Greece, to hospital occupations in the UK, and more! Through this material we can explore the different types of community responses to healthcare and see how self-managed organisations operate within a vacuum of adequate state provisions, how campaigns maintain and extend existing provisions of care, as well as transforming it along more radical lines. Building on these questions and using the material we’ve collected we will be running a workshop over the course of two days to discuss the archive, learn about current struggles, and try to create a public resource for future political organising.

During corona times we have been experimenting with online collaborative tools to help build archival collections and create new ways of interrogating the material. As part of this workshop we will be using collective FLOSS tools, such as Hot Glue and Etherpads, to explore how we can co-create material online together. The archival pieces in the collection and annotations will then be turned into a scrapbook and hosted as part of our digital archive leftove.rs.

This workshop is by invite only. However if you are really interested or have material you would like to contribute please email in-formation@maydayrooms.org and we’ll see if we can fit you in!

In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have been searching online archives for radical responses to healthcare around the world. We’ve found a wealth of materials, from the Black Panther organised Free Health Clinics, the self-organised pharmacies and clinics movement in Greece, to hospital occupations in the UK, and more! Through this material we can explore the different types of community responses to healthcare and see how self-managed organisations operate within a vacuum of adequate state provisions, how campaigns maintain and extend existing provisions of care, as well as transforming it along more radical lines. Building on these questions and using the material we’ve collected we will be running a workshop over the course of two days to discuss the archive, learn about current struggles, and try to create a public resource for future political organising.

During corona times we have been experimenting with online collaborative tools to help build archival collections and create new ways of interrogating the material. As part of this workshop we will be using collective FLOSS tools, such as Hot Glue and Etherpads, to explore how we can co-create material online together. The archival pieces in the collection and annotations will then be turned into a scrapbook and hosted as part of our digital archive leftove.rs.

This workshop is by invite only. However if you are really interested or have material you would like to contribute please email in-formation@maydayrooms.org and we’ll see if we can fit you in!

Social centres, info-shops, squats and collective spaces are key points of distribution and organising for radical politics. However, they are often just footnotes in archival collections, filling up the listing pages with the address of a meeting or event. We want to start building a collection around these spaces documenting their histories, processes of self-organisation and the movements they supported.

Join us for an online archival session at the Anarchist Bookfair, where we want to pool our collective knowledge around these spaces and create an archival resource. We encourage people to bring materials from their own collections and personal histories. Have a look at the list we have been compiling of spaces in the UK: https://textb.org/t/radical_spaces_edit/

During corona times we have been experimenting with online collaborative tools to help build archival collections and create new ways of interrogating the material. As part of this workshop we will be using collective FLOSS tools, such as Hot Glue and Etherpads, to explore how we can co-create material online together. The archival pieces in the collection and annotations will then be turned into a scrapbook and hosted as part of our digital archive leftove.rs.

Look out for the launch of the programme on the Anarchist Bookfair’s website. We’ll also share the link on our social media closer to the time.

Find more info here.

As part of our archive log series we have teamed up with London Renters Union Library to create a collection of materials around rent strikes to help support LRU’s current campaign Can’t Pay Won’t Pay. To build this collection we will be running an online archival session where people can look through bits of the archive, read and discuss how rent strikes of the past can help inform contemporary housing struggles. Using collective FLOSS tools such as Hot Glue and Etherpad we will be experimenting with how we can co-create material online together. We will be taking clippings, help write collective annotations to accompany the material, and much more.

The archival pieces in the collection and annotations will then be created into a scrapbook and send out as our archive log mailout. The collection will be ultimately housed on our digital archive platform leftove.rs as well as become part of the LRU Library.

Find more info here

Hackney Gutter Press Issue 1 was published in April 1972 at Centerprise bookshop in Dalston.

1972: “Most people in Hackney don’t like the way their lives are controlled by work, rents, councillors, police, schools etc. A lot of us are organising to fight their control – but we feel we don’t know enough about each other. For example with the coming tenants’ campaign against the Fair Rents Act we’re going to need a united fight if we are going to win – women at home, people going to work, claimants and kids together: we’re all tenants.
We want this newspaper to be used as part of getting to know each other. Organising to fight together. We want it to be used as a WEAPON TO FIGHT FOR OUR OWN CONTROL OF HACKNEY.”

2020: In this moment of unionisation in response to unemployment, millions have found themselves dependent on the state, where they might never have expected to. People stand to lose their businesses, families have spent a disgusting amount of time together, domestic violence has unsurprisingly soared, and protests around systemic racism, racial inequality and BAME deaths are a critical reality.

Substitute Hackney for wherever you live and imagine if you and the people in your area published a zine like this. Help us put together an audio collage, not unlike the Hackney Gutter Press did with words and paper in the 70s. As always we want contributions from the literal to the oblique; interviews with neighbours, soundscapes, field recordings, snippets from the streets, recordings from the tv, radio, internet, fury and resistance from the gutter looking up!

Questions to start you off:

  • Can you describe the kind of mutual aid that’s been happening around you?
  • Have you witnessed or experienced police harassment?
  • Are you negotiating with your landlord?
  • Are you going on rent strike?
  • Do you have space?
  • What kind of care work are you doing?
  • Do we need a claimants union now? How do we navigate Universal Credit together?

Send your submissions to audio@maydayrooms.org via WeTransfer or link to a google doc by 23rd July. We will be listening to all our submitted audio together at the online event.

Take a look at the Hackney Gutter Press archive from MayDay Rooms. You can also read about it at the radical history of Hackney blog.