On Friday 25 October, Gavin Brown will be speaking at the University of Leeds about the Non-Stop Picket. His talk is a contribution to the ESRC-funded seminar series on the theme of ‘Critical Diversities‘ organised by Yvette Taylor and Sally Hines. The seminar next week addresses the theme “Diverse Policies: Colliding Concerns”
Gavin’s paper will assess the extent to which the anti-apartheid Non-Stop Picket of the South African Embassy in London (1986 – 1990) united activists from diverse social backgrounds. Positioned within the context of the 1980s’ British Left, the Non-Stop Picket actively sought to mobilize women, black people, lesbians and gay men, trade unionists, and youth & students to its anti-apartheid cause. This commitment was built into the group’s organisational structures through a series of focused sub-groups that took responsibility for mobilizing specific constituencies on the basis of an assumed common identity. To varying degrees, this strategy and the mutual, reciprocal solidarity on which it was founded was successful and the Picket was sustained by a more diverse group of participants than many similar campaigns of the period. However, at the same time, tensions around the relative privilege of some participants (in relations to others) were constantly present. Gavin’s paper will explore how the active generation of solidarity and practices of being-in-solidarity (both with those resisting apartheid in South Africa and those in Britain who saw themselves as ‘Thatcher’s rejects’) helped foster common cause among participants, whilst also respecting and celebrating difference.