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Let's #BuyBackBrixton

ACTION: #BuyBackBrixton

BRIXTON IS known as Britain's black Capital and for good reason too. It was home to Olive Morris, the British Black Panther Movement and the infamous Brixton Race Riots to name a few.

The London Borough of Lambeth is also home to the largest population of black people in London with the heart of this population being Brixton. But this cultural heritage is under threat as the black Brixton community argues it is being systematically pushed out and their cultural heritage decimated.

A unique opportunity has arisen to preserve some of this history and reverse these changes with the sale of Brixton Village (formerly known as Granville Arcade) and Market Row. The significance of these two pieces of the Brixton Landscape to black British Brixton history is so iconic that it was awarded listed status in 2010 with the following recorded by English Heritage:

"The well-known Brixton Market complex formed the commercial and social heart of the extensive Afro-Caribbean community that settled in Brixton after WWII. The successful adoption of the markets is the clearest architectural manifestation of the major wave of immigration that had such an important impact on the cultural and social landscape of post-war Britain, and is thus a site with considerable historical resonance."

It goes on to state: "By the late 1960s much of this area had become one of the largest and most important sites of Caribbean settlement in the United Kingdom, and word of Brixton's reputation as 'the spiritual home of Caribbeans in Britain' spread 'back home', encouraging new generations of Caribbean settlers."

However, this status was only awarded after the local community campaigned to protect the sites in response to the current owners plans in 2006 to raze the markets to the ground and turn them into luxury flats. The current fear is that another cash rich developer will buy these markets with a view to fight to change this status to allow them to continue where the current owners failed, this is why we’ve started the campaign #BuyBackBrixton.

Every £1 given is sending a clear message, and if we don’t reach our target you get your money back but will still have sent an important message! How much value do you put on black history?

My Tribe Village, is a community organisation established to support the African diasporic family - including those from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America - by promoting our shared culture and community and tackling race inequality & discrimination.

We are going through the process of incorporating into a community benefit society, a type of co-operative, meaning it we will be owned and managed by our members for the benefit of the wider community. This also means, if we were successful, these two landmark pieces of black British history will be owned by the community.

This process has taken longer than expected but we don’t wish to lose out on this once in a lifetime chance to retain some of our cultural heritage and bring these markets back into the hands

of the black community. The markets still remain unsold but we know we don’t have much time before that changes. The markets are for sale for £30m, with the black British population reaching nearly 2 million (in 2011) and a purchasing power of over £300 billion it is not out of our reach.

We think it is only right that these culturally historical sites should be owned by the very communities whose heritage their listed status protects. We don’t want to see yet another ‘black’ business in Brixton owned by people from other ethnicities whose sole objective is to profit from black image and culture.

We are very much aware that this is a David and Goliath battle and that there is every chance that we will not raise enough money to reach our target, however this campaign is as much about raising awareness of the historical importance of these markets to the black community as it is about raising the money to buy them.

It is likely that the prospective purchasers are intending to contest the current English Heritage listing and in so doing wiping our history out of Brixton, we are laying the groundwork for the battle ahead.

Theresa May’s Race Disparity Report and Lammy Review by MP David Lammy has shown us that if we want to see real and lasting change we need to become innovative with our way of thinking and to take hold of our own destiny with both hands rather than continuing to let others exploit and profit from it.

As the saying goes ‘it ain’t over till the fat lady sings’, or in this case perhaps –‘the black lady sings.’

Campaign pages:

Crowdfunding page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/buybackbrixton
Facebook campaign page: www.facebook.com/BuyBackBrixton

Organisation pages:

Website: www.mytribe.family
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MyTribeVillage/
Instagram: @mytribevillage
Twitter: @myafricantribe

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