Olive Morris is widely recognised as a prominent voice of leadership in the fight against discrimination in Britain during the 1970s.
On the 26th June 2020, Google Doodle recognised the Jamaican-born British community leader and campaign activist Olive Morris.
Olive Elaine Morris was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica on this day in 1952 and moved to London before she turned 10. A catalysing moment in Morris’ life of activism occurred when she was just 17, when she witnessed the arrest and beating of a Nigerian diplomat whom police had stopped on the basis of the “sus” laws of the time, similar to today’s “stop-and-search” policies. In response to this injustice, Morris intervened to try to protect the diplomat and prevent the arrest. As a result, she was arrested, held, and physically assaulted. This incident ignited Morris’ determination to take action, and she soon joined the Black Panthers’ Youth Collective to oppose systemic racism within Britain.
Morris took a leadership role in the push toward justice across many areas of society, including fighting for racial equality, gender equality, and squatters’ rights. After heading protests and demonstrations, she helped to found the Brixton Black Women’s Group in 1973, one of Britain’s first networks for Black women.
Despite leaving secondary school with no qualifications, Morris enrolled in 1975 at Manchester University, where she earned a degree in social sciences and fought tirelessly for issues like international students’ rights. She also traveled extensively around the world, from China to Algeria, which greatly informed her approach to activism back home. In 1978, she co-founded the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent, considered instrumental in rallying movements for change.
In honor of Morris’ lifetime of activism, she was selected in 2015 to appear on the Brixton Pound, a currency designed to foster local business within the South London neighborhood she served during her lifetime. Today’s Doodle features Morris’ portrait on a wall in South London, surrounded by the local community the Brixton Pound that featured her was intended to support. Her commitment to fighting for equality and justice continues to inspire today.