The Liberation Movement (TLM) builds on a long history of resistance to racism in Britain. It is complementary to and not in competition with already existing organisations. 

We note the TUC-affiliated National Union of Journalists hosted a successful webinar “40 Years of Resistance: From the Brixton Uprisings to Black Lives Matter” staged by the union’s Black Members Council on March 20, 2021, to mark UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which commemorates South Africa’s Sharpeville Massacre. TLM does an annual event based on this.

On 18th Jan 1981, the New Cross Fire Massacre claimed the lives of 14 young Black people, sparking the unprecedented Black People’s Day of Action and later that year the Brixton uprisings against police oppression in South London.

November 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the setting up of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) by Marc Wadsworth, co-founder with Hasssan Ahmed of TLM. The ARA went on to become Europe’s largest Black-led anti-racist movement. 

Among its achievements were:

  • Building the broadest coalition ever against racism in Britain, with African Caribbean and Asian leadership and trade union support at its core
  • Advocating for laws against racial violence and harassment, two of which were passed by Parliament
  • Leading a successful campaign to the shutdown the headquarters in London of the fascist British National Party
  • Helping to set up the justice campaign for murdered Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, including introducing his parents to Nelson Mandela
  • Organising peaceful anti-racist demonstrations and festivals like the famed ARAfest, with tens of thousands of predominantly Black youth attending.
  • ARAfest became the annual Respect and then Rise festivals, which were axed by Boris Johnson during his time as London Mayor.


The current Tory government-encouraged rise in racism, Islamophobia and anti-migrant and refugees policies are a global concern, and they demand a united movement – led by people of colour supported by their white allies.

People of colour are 14% of Britain’s population and daily face personal and systemic racism.

Despite government denial, racial discrimination persists, as evidenced by reports including the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. 

The massive international Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests lacked specific trade union and progressive political party presence, an issue our new movement aims to rectify.

The BLM demonstrations, powered by Black self-organisation, demanded police reform and the decolonisation of British history, particularly that taught in schools.

Campaigns of Grassroots Black Left, which helped set up TLM, have highlighted racism’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic and inequalities in health and safety for African Caribbean and Asian essential workers.

The government’s notorious “hostile environment” policy, highlighted by the Windrush scandal and illegal plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda, has ruthlessly targeted migrants and refugees, worsening racial tensions.

Police stop and search on our streets disproportionately affects Black, particularly male youth, while deaths in  custody breed further community mistrust in law enforcement officers. The Grenfell Tower disaster avoidably claimed more than 72 lives in 2017, many of whom were people of colour and Muslim.

Trade unionists have historically led anti-racist efforts, including the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Our new organisation, launched in the 2021 October Black History Month, unites  people of colour with their allies to combat racism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and all forms of hatred.

TLM’s co-chairs are Nottingham-based Hassan Ahmed and Deborah Hobson, who lives in London. Both are leading community and trade union activists.