Black History Month: Amazing Life of London’s First Black Mayor
If you live in the Battersea area or know a thing or two about the history of London, you may have heard of John Archer.
He was the former mayor of Battersea and the first black man to hold high public office in London.
But his achievements stopped there. Throughout his life, John fought hard against racial injustice, changed the national curriculum, and even had time to become an award-winning photographer.
He lived at 55 Brynmaer Road in Battersea for nearly 20 years, including the period of his greatest political achievements.
Today, a blue plaque on his former home commemorates his services to politics and the struggle for racial and social justice.
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His election as Mayor of Battersea in 1913 marked a huge leap for People of Color within London politics and across the country.
The campaign had negative and racist aspects with allegations that he was not a British national.
He won 40 to 39 votes among his fellow councilors and delivered a remarkable victory speech
The inspiring mayor said to the Battersea people after his election, “You will look at Battersea and say, ‘This is the greatest thing you’ve done.
“You have shown that you have no racial prejudice, but recognize a man for what you think he has done”.
The progressive view of Battersea voters meant that Archer’s role in politics enabled him to take massive steps for minorities.
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In 1918 he became the first president of the African Progress Union to advocate “advanced African ideas in liberal education”.
It was only last year in America that the assassination of George Flyod prompted protest groups to delve into British education and try to decolonize it.
Decolonizing the curriculum is about being more precise, more integrative and more interculturally appealing.
It’s not about imposing an ideological perspective on students, but telling both sides of the story.
Archer already had the idea of educating about oppression and promoting it in his politics.
Despite Archer’s hard work, it is clear that more needs to be done to change the education system to recognize the repressive nature and racist crimes of the British Empire.
John Archer left a legacy of ideas.
He was recognized for his political influence in 2004 when he was voted one of the “100 Great Black Britons”.
In April 2013, Archer was honored by Royal Mail in the UK as one of six people selected for the Great Britain’s commemorative stamp issue.
In March 2018, Archer was honored by the Ark Academy Network, which renamed Battersea High View Primary School to Ark John Archer Academy
The name and ideas of the famous politician outlived his life for a long time.
As an inspiring pioneer of equality and racial justice, Archer’s work not only benefited many people during his lifetime, but also did so for generations.
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