The ninth annual Frow Lecture, in honour of the Library’s founders Edmund and Ruth, will be given on Saturday 12 May at 2pm by Shirin Hirsch, Research Fellow in History from the University of Wolverhampton, and is entitled In the shadow of Enoch Powell: race, class and resistance.

It is fifty years since Enoch Powell made his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham, unleashing a ferocious attack on black immigration. Powell’s words reverberated across the country just as the post-war consensus was beginning to unravel, revolts were spreading across the world and decolonisation was ripping up the British Empire.

Thes talk traces the impact of the speech within Powell’s Wolverhampton constituency, looking at the ways in which racism was both absorbed and challenged by working class people. The research explores different workplaces where people from across the world were brought together and pulled apart by the demands of employers.

The dramatic moment of the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech intervened within these dynamics, reshaping everyday forms of living, but it also instigated new forms of anti-racist resistance in the Black Country industrial town.

At a time when Enoch Powell is back on the political agenda with new attempts to rehabilitate him, the lecture will reflect on memories of the speech and how we might begin to think about and organise against racism from 1968 to the present day.

The lecture will take place at the Old Fire Station, University of Salford, and the Library is once again grateful to the University for hosting this event. All welcome; admission free; light refreshments afterwards.


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