Brixton, London

Brixton was an important settlement for migrants from the Caribbean in the decades following the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury in 1948. During this period, Brixton gained a reputation as the spiritual home of Caribbean settlement in the United Kingdom. In the 1980s, Brixton was one of many British inner cities that experienced uprisings, often sparked by police brutality, that were the result of high youth unemployment and discrimination in many areas of life such as education, employment and housing.

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As Paul Gilroy argues, Black Britain is a ‘compound culture’ merging Caribbean and British identities with a political sensibility and expressiveness transmitted from black America. Brixton became an urban hub where different strands of this culture could be articulated and, as such, it attracted a community of artists, musicians and designers as well as political activists.

(Right, mural by Create Not Destroy, Valentia Place, SW9, photo by AIC)

The 2011 Census reveals Brixton is becoming less African-Caribbean, although the district continues to be promoted as an urban cosmopolitan lifestyle centre based upon a public persona of desirable diversity. While gentrification is widely recognised as threatening the distinct character of Brixton, after many years of campaigning, the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) founded in Brixton in 1981 finally found a permanent home in the regenerated Windrush Square development.

(Left, entrance to Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, SW9, photo by AIC)