Around Ealing April / May 2019 | Page 25

SOUTHALL RISING ‘A chance to reflect’ This April will mark the 40th anniversary of the Southall riots and an exhibition is being held in the town to look back at those tumultuous events – and the changes that have taken place since. I n 1979, hundreds of people were arrested or hurt when battles broke out as protestors tried to prevent the far-right National Front party from holding a meeting in Southall Town Hall. Tragically, one of the protestors was killed – a teacher called Blair Peach. Inspired by the anniversary, a multi-media project called Southall Rising started in September and will culminate with an exhibition at the Dominion Centre from 23 April – the actual anniversary date. It will also be displayed at other venues. The exhibition will include photography, writing, film and urban art. Since September, local students have been taking part in workshops and producing art for the exhibition, with the help of artists. These pupils were from four schools: Featherstone, Villiers and Greenford high schools; and Blair Peach Primary, which was named in honour of the teacher who lost his life in 1979. ‘WHEN I TELL THEM, THEY ARE SHOCKED’ Southall Rising was conceived by journalist Vivek Chaudhary (pictured above left), who has lived in the town all his life. He was backed by funding and support from Ealing Council’s Southall Green and Southall Broadway ward forums, Near Neighbours community group, the teachers’ union NEU (formerly NUT), and the Awards for All National Lottery Fund. Vivek said the project was an opportunity to recognise, and raise awareness of, the past, while looking forward in a positive way. He said: “In 1979 I was in school – roughly the same age as the pupils in the workshops. And when I tell them about it they are shocked. “I don’t want to drag up negative stuff, that is not what this project is about. But it is part of our history and it is also a chance to reflect on the changes that have taken place since – a lot of it has been so good – and the positive things we have as a community.” ‘A LASTING LEGACY’ Councillor Jasbir Anand, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for business and community services, said: “Out of tragedy, hate, and overwhelming change our communities built a lasting legacy of a vibrantly tolerant and diverse town, which endures to this day.” MORE INFO n Read the full story on Southall Rising, and see a video, at features/rising n Read the details of what happened in 1979; and also the personal testimony of Councillor Anand; at n More commemorative events are planned. Find out more at around ealing    April/May 2019 25