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Remembering Olive Morris

The Remembering Olive Collective (ROC) is holding a rally on Friday 26 June on Rush Common, Brixton Hill, to celebrate the life of Olive Morris and to call upon Lambeth Council to ensure that Olive’s memory does not become erased from the history of Brixton. Brixton Pound had put Olive on its first edition notes, so we wholeheartedly support the celebration and memory of Olive’s life and activism. Below are a few words from B£ Director Susan Steed.

Olive Morris on the Brixton Pound

This Friday the Remembering Olive Collective (ROC) are hosting a rally to celebrate the life of Olive Morris and to call upon Lambeth Council to ensure her memory is not erased from the history of Brixton.

Several people asked how Olive Morris came to feature on the first edition Brixton Pound note. The reason for this is very simple. When we began designing the currency back in 2009 we asked lots of people from Brixton who they thought should go on the notes. We had a stall at the Lambeth Country Show and on online voting poll. Olive’s name kept coming up.

As we looked into it more, it seemed Olive Morris was a brilliant choice to be the first person to go on a Brixton Pound. She was an activist – campaigning on many social justice issues including racism, unemployment, police violence and squatters rights. She was also a member of the British Black Panthers and a socialist and she supported anti-colonial struggles internationally.

Money and power are at the heart of many of the issues that Olive campaigned on. Just take a look at our national currency, sterling, and look at the images that are chosen and the symbols they represent. If you go to the British Museum you can also see notes issued by the British Government in the British Colonies and they look very similar to the notes that we still use today.

The Brixton Pound deliberately chose images and symbols that break tradition with this colonialist past. Olive Morris was a disrupter and we are proud to put her image on the first issue of the notes in the place that is usually reserved for the Queen. We hope this may encourage more people to look at the inequalities sustained and perpetuated by our current financial system and challenge them, just as Olive Morris did.

Since putting Olive Morris on the Brixton Pound we have had many people come and talk to us who remember Olive. They have told us a bit about her and her life. We hope that, alongside organisations like the Remembering Olive Collective, we can help keep her legacy alive.

More information on the rally is available here.

Please tell your friends, sign the petition to retain a public facing memorial to Olive, and see you at the rally!

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