THEN: FRANK CRICHLOW Born in Trinidad and raised in the U.K, Crichlow was a British community leader, entrepreneur, and activist during London’s civil rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s. His first restaurant El Rio Cafe served as a gathering place and resource for support and fellowship for newly arriving immigrants of color to London. He would go on to open the Mangrove, a restaurant and lounge that catered to celebrities including Richard Neville, Jimi Hendrix, the Four Tops, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr, and Diana Ross and the Supremes. He experienced police harassment and after protesting his mistreatment and what he thought to be systemic racism, he and eight others were arrested for “riot and affray” in 1970.
The aftermath of the arrest led to a highly publicized trial that lasted for 55 days the next year which exposed racism in Britain against blacks at the hand of law enforcement. Deemed “The “Mangrove Nine,” all protesters were acquitted. “It was a turning point for black people,” Crichlow said in an interview. “It put on trial the attitudes of the police, the Home Office, of everyone towards the black community.” He set up the Mangrove Community Association which provided advice and assistance to immigrants of color and launched projects to improve housing, establish youth facilities and services for the elderly, and help rehabilitate ex-offenders and drug and alcohol addicts. He also served as a central figure in the development of the Notting Hill Carnival which celebrates the culture of Afro Caribbeans and is the largest street festival in Europe.
NOW: IKAMARA LARASI Larasi is a black feminist, writer, and community organizer based in the U.K. She recently launched the Rewind & Reframe campaign which created media buzz on social as well as in the U.K news, conducting focus groups with women in their teens and 20s to explore the good and bad of the imagery in popular music videos. The campaign called for better sex education, media literacy courses, and age ratings on music videos. It also created dialogue about Miley Cyrus’ 2013 performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, the depiction of black women in Lily Allen’s video for “Hard Out Here,” and included a protest against “Blurred Lines,” which was, Larasi told The Guardian, based on the fact that “there isn’t a clear understanding in society of consent, and how to treat women.”
A key figure at Imkaan, a black feminist organization “dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls,” Larasi works to ensure that the young female perspective is represented in conversations about violence against women and girls. As an advocate for women’s rights, she’s been a featured speaker at the International Women’s Day Million Women Rise March in London which called for an end to violence against women in the U.K., and the Women Of The World festival which celebrates the accomplishments of women and girls and is broadcast internationally via the BBC. She also serves as a member of the Black Feminists and has written insights on feminism and the images of black women in pop culture for publications including The Guardian.