Catalogue description African Reparations Movement Records

This record is held by Bishopsgate Institute

Details of BG/ARM
Reference: BG/ARM
Title: African Reparations Movement Records

The records of the African Reparations Movement (ARM) form one of the most extensive and complete groupings of papers in the collection and document the establishment, administration and core activities of the Movement [eg minutes, constitution, finance and administration files]. Material created by the subordinate sub-committees/sections of the Movement form a small but important group relating to the key interests and participants involved in the Movement eg Musicians and Student Sections. There are also papers recording Bernie Grant's representation of Britain at historic conferences such as the Abuja conference wherein Africa called for compensation for enslavement and colonisation (Reparations). In line with the Movement's objectives, records such as the Benin Bronzes campaign files demonstrate the targeted efforts aimed at demanding the return of Africa's cultural treasures, including the many letters issued by Bernie Grant confronting leading cultural institutions which claimed ownership of them. There are a substantial volume of papers maintained or issued by the Movement concerning endeavours to encourage discussion, research and disseminate information in order to inform the reparations debate and increase greater awareness of the cause eg 'Research for Reparations' Papers, Information Sheets, Legal Basis of Claim for Reparations. There is a large volume of correspondence maintained by Bernie Grant, as Chair of the ARM, which include some interesting written exchanges with British government officials/ministers and African Embassies and high commissions as part of strategic efforts to mobilize national and global support for Reparations. The wide-ranging public and press reaction to Bernie Grant's alleged controversial comments on 'repatriation' [as well as his views on reparations] are also well-documented in the collection. They include key papers outlining Bernie Grant's clarification of his remarks and vision for the Movement. Objects and ephemera are also held in the collection such as flyers issued during the National Speaking tour on reparations.

Date: 1963 - 2000
Related material:

Many campaign placards and the famous oversized Repossession Notice used during the picket protest at the Museum of Mankind are located in the general 'Objects and Clothing' series within Bernie Grant's personal records.

Held by: Bishopsgate Institute, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

African Reparations Movement UK, 1993-

Physical description: 302 files
Access conditions:

Some files may be closed for 100 years in accordance with data protection legislation.


Exceptions to closure: Closed files may be accessed under certain conditions upon making application to the Bernie Grant Trust.

Administrative / biographical background:

While the campaign for reparations is commonly regarded as old as enslavement itself, the movement was re-launched after the first international Conference on Reparations in Lagos, Nigeria, in December 1990. Subsequently, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), set up a Group of Eminent Persons (GEP), in June 1992. Its aim was to work out the different ways in which to proceed, and to secure technical advisors, who would help to solve some of the difficulties associated with the claim for reparations. A second Conference on Reparations was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in 1993, attended by representatives from throughout the Diaspora. That Conference issued a Declaration, called the Abuja Proclamation, which called for a national reparations committee to be set up throughout Africa and the Diaspora. The Africa Reparations Movement (UK), was formed in 1993, as a result of this Proclamation. Bernie Grant was co-founder and Chair of the ARM in the UK and consequently part of the Board of Trustees responsible for managing the core affairs of the movement [Secretary: Sam Walker; Treasurer: Linda Bellos; Trustees: Dr Patrick Wilmott, Dr. Stephen Small, Dorothy Kuya; Hugh Oxley]. The organisation comprised specialist sub-committees such as Students, Trade Unionist, Women, Entertainers and Architect sections. The aims and objectives of the movement were outlined as follows: to use all lawful means to obtain Reparations for the enslavement and colonisation of African people in Africa and in the African Diaspora; to use all lawful means to secure the return of African artefacts from whichever place they are currently held; to seek an apology from western governments for the enslavement and colonisation of African people; to campaign for an acknowledgement of the contribution of African people to World history and civilisation; to campaign for an accurate portrayal of African history and thus restore dignity and self-respect to African people; to educate and inform African youth, on the continent and in the Diaspora, about the great African cultures, languages and civilisations.

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