By presenting a selection of relevant material from the Bernie Grant Archive, the People's Champion exhibition aims to document the early influences on his life, and to illustrate the many challenges he presented to the British establishment and to the international order - during a long career in which he became a voice for many marginalized communities over a crucial period in race relations history.
Images, memorabilia and textual documents all serve to provide a snapshot of the extensive local, national and international scope of Bernie Grant's personal and public contribution to shaping British society. In fighting the underbelly of racism and mobilizing on key causes affecting oppressed peoples everywhere, Bernie Grant aroused fierce controversy, as he used his elected authority, and the oxygen of adverse publicity to give a voice to the voiceless. The exhibition portrays this vividly, showing the depth of the hostility he faced for example, from sections of the public, press and media, from political opponents, and even from his own party.
In contrast, he was a highly popular figure amongst those for whom he spoke out, and he came to be regarded as an authentic and influential voice at national level by the time of his death. As the exhibition shows, he exploited his Parliamentary office to the full to champion the cause of the underdog, and especially that of the black and minority ethnic community.
The following online display shows only a small selection from the physical Exhibition which will be in show from 31st March 2004 for one month, at Bruce Castle Museum in his former Tottenham constituency. It serves as a visual taster for those who want to know about Bernie Grant the man, and of some of the questions which he posed to his own and to future generations. The selection of items is set in the context of one of the most politically polarized periods in modern British history.