The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is an amazing archive, largely concerned with the publications and activism of John La Rose (27 December 1927 – 28 February 2006), the Caribbean poet, campaigner, educator and publisher.
New Beacon Books was founded in Hornsey, London in the1960s. Up until 2007, they were a self publishing and distributing organisation which was formed through and heavily influenced by the Caribbean Artist’s Movement (CAM). CAM met at the local West Indian Students Centre to discuss art, writing and education. The Movement led to the publication of many books and pamphlets, several of them using images which have become iconic of the time.
The George Padmore Institute (GPI) itself was established in 1991. It was formed by John La Rose and others who had been part of the movements- such as CAM, the Black Education Movement (BEM) and other organisations which sought to ensure that black immigrants had a means of keeping their roots and interests alive. The GPI started to bring what they had produced over the years together and in 2003, were able to employ a part time archivist to organise the archive in a more structured way.
So far, the GPI has received 3 grants from the heritage lottery fund which has allowed them to catalogue the early movements collections and materials; the international book fairs materials and more recent collections and also to undertake the current 5yr project –the John La Rose archive, their largest project yet! This is a very exciting project for GPI and their users as it means that unpublished drafts and communications relating to books, later published by New Beacon Books, will be made available.
The main users of the GPI are researchers- many international- and some teachers. Programmes to bring the archives into local schools are also run by GPI and they have produced a ‘teaching citizenship’ teaching pack.
Plans to digitise and ensure that the collections become increasingly accessible are underway and links are being forged with the Black Cultural Archives and the London Metropolitan Archives. If you are interested in black supplementary schools, the Black Education Movement (BEM) and other groups and projects set up by black educators in the 60’s and proceeding decades, and would like to know more about the status of these groups and networks in the present day, do have a look at the GPI website and contact them to find out more.
This year, in time for black history month, we will be publishing a new library guide (LibGuides) on black and minority ethnic education (BAME)resources so do look out for it over the next few months, and, if you know of any great resources for BAME education, let me know and I’ll ensure they make it into our guide!