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On Altab Ali Day heritage project searches for 1978 memories

4th May 2020 marks the 42nd anniversary of Altab Ali Day, held to commemorate the racist murder of Altab Ali, a 25-year-old Bengali leather garments worker, in East London.  It recalls the transformative year of 1978, when the local Bengali community mobilised in an unprecedented, anti-racist uprising. Their actions represented a turning point in local and national resistance against racial harassment and discrimination.

Today a local heritage project is searching for memories from people who remember these events, inspired by an extensive collection of images taken by photographer Paul Trevor.  Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point is working with over 20 volunteers.  The search is on to identify people in these photographs, and to record their memories. The project will create a first-hand record of local peoples’ memories of the year and make Paul Trevor’s historically significant photographs publicly accessible. It culminates in an exhibition, with schools’ pack, talks and study days at Four Corners Gallery in 2021.

Paul Trevor said: “They say a photo is worth a thousand words. But sometimes, as in this case, words are essential. This project is an opportunity to add the voices of those who made history to the images of that story.”

Carla Mitchell, Development Director at Four Corners said: “This history is hugely relevant today, with an increase of racist attacks making the headlines.  Thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to ensure that this powerful heritage is made publicly accessible for a wide audience of current & future generations.”

Stuart Hobley, Area Director, London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “The history of community activism and anti-racism of Brick Lane 1978 has played a significant role in shaping the culture and heritage of London. We’re delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, we can support Four Corners to explore and record this crucial part of the local community’s heritage, acknowledging its impact on the city and promoting better understanding in the wider community.”