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Race and politics

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Photo of Labour Party poster   Road works and workers
1924 Labour Party election poster – Archer was the agent for this campaign
Copyright © Battersea Labour Party and Sean Creighton
  Queenstown Road - paving the approach to Chelsea Bridge: part of the improvements for which Archer struggled
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Copyright © Wandsworth Local History Service
     
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Photo of Stewarts Lane houses    
Stewarts Lane - houses about to be demolished Neg 586
Copyright © Wandsworth Local History Service
   

Archer had been inundated with messages of goodwill from all over the world, but he was shocked by the intense hostility his election also attracted at home. At a meeting one month later at the Town Hall, his tone is plaintive and angry -

"Do you know that I have had letters since I have been Mayor calling my mother some of the foulest names that it is possible for a mother to be called. ("Shame"). Before I was Mayor I received no opposition on the Council. I have been made to feel my position more than any man who has ever occupied this chair, not because I am a member of the Council, but because I am a man of colour. My dead mother has been called in question because she married a coloured man. ("Shame") Am I not a man, the same as any other man? Have I not got feelings the same as any other? I may be wrong when I come here and meet this opposition, but would not any other man in my position think the opposition was because of his colour? If it's not then I say, as a man, I apologise to you."

The hostility did not deflect Archer, however. By 1919 he had become an insider and a stalwart in the brew of local politics, and at the same time he was taking part in a spurt of black political activity. The African Progress Union was formed in 1918, to promote "the general welfare of Africans and Afro-Peoples", and on 16 June, in his capacity as President, he led a deputation to Liverpool to discuss the recent race riots in the city, and managed the Union's contribution to the fees of the Guyanese lawyer Edward Nelson, who defended the black men arrested in the Liverpool riots.

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

Life and politics and Labour Next - 'Life and politics and Labour'

Introduction Introduction
Alexander Pushkin Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Dumas Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
 
 
 
Discover more:
Introduction
Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin
Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
John Archer
Background and early life
Background and early life
'Battersea and Archer's entry into local politics'
Battersea and Archer's entry into local politics
Councillor Archer
Councillor Archer
The mayoral election
The mayoral election
A victory such as never has been gained before
"A victory such as never has been gained before"
Race and politics
Life and Politics and Labour
Life and politics and Labour
A multitude of friends - death of John Archer
"A multitude of friends" - death of John Archer
 
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