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"A victory such as never has been gained before"

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Newspaper photo of Mayor Archer   Newspaper photo of John Archer's wife Bertha

Newspaper photo of Mayor Archer
Daily Express 11/11/1913
Copyright © Daily Express

 

Newspaper photo of Archer's wife Bertha
Daily Express 11/11/1913
Copyright © Daily Express

     
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Battersea Park Road    
Battersea Park Road - junction with Russell Street looking East
Neg 909E
Copyright © Wandsworth Local History Service
   

Archer's mixed response - of elation mixed with irritation at the attentions of the press, was a reflection of his new dilemma. On the one hand he was a black man, catapulted into a leading role in the politics of race and Empire. On the other hand, he was a local politician whose life was centred on the Town Hall, his photography shop, his domestic responsibilities and his evenings at the Bath Swimming Club. In his acceptance speech, however, he responded valiantly to his role as an icon -

"It is a victory such as has never been gained before", he declaimed. "I am a man of colour. I am proud to be. I would not change my colour if I could. . my election to-night marks a new era. You have made history tonight. For the first time in the history of the English nation, a man of colour has been elected as mayor of an English borough. That news will go forth to all the coloured nations of the world and they will look at Battersea, and say it is the greatest thing you have done. You have shown that you have no racial prejudice, but recognise a man for what you think he has done."

During his term as Mayor, Archer increasingly threw himself into local politics, struggling to improve local conditions through the Borough Council and the Board of Guardians. His regime was a generally successful one in which he distributed charity relief, made speeches at local occasions and, on the outbreak of the Great War, organised an appeal and a march through Battersea for aid to alleviate distress caused by the war.

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

Race and politics Next - 'Race and politics'

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"
Race and politics
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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