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George Powe 1926 - 2013

A public figure, a private man

 

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Oswald George Powe, always known as George, died in 2013, aged 87.  He served in the RAF during World War II and subsequently settled in the UK.  He was a lifelong socialist and a true comrade who fought against colonialism and racism, and strove for equality and respect for the African-Caribbean community.  He helped an enormous number of people to achieve their rights.  For this, as well as his public service, he earned the undying respect of his fellow-Jamaicans as well as members of the host community.

 

“George was a key part of the glue that linked Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities into the mainstream of politics.  George already had a decade of anti-nuclear CND campaigns tucked under his belt by the time we met in the early 70s.  We were part of a movement that easily spilled over into education, anti-apartheid and anti-poverty campaigns . George never lost sight of the importance of connecting big picture and small picture politics into a single vision.” 
Alan Simpson:  community activist, former Labour Party Member of Parliament, Nottingham South 1992-2010

 

“It was his willingness to share his story as a radar operator during WWII that acted as a catalyst for others to come forward and share their experiences of fighting in the war, which is the jewel of the archive [Nottingham Black Archive] …It is through narratives like George’s that we know that the ‘British’ did not stand alone against the might of Hitler’s Germany.  He was instrumental in advising and often advocating for many Jamaicans on immigration matters.” 
Panya Banjoko:  performance poet, writer, and founder of Nottingham Black Archive

 

“His importance and influence is now much greater than we can imagine... He was in many respects a pioneer, an inventor and a builder.  His vision was to create an environment for change and to leave the world a better place than he found it.” 
Milton Crosdale:  community activist, former chairperson of the ACNA Centre, and former head of the Race Relations Council, Nottingham

 

 

WINDRUSH LEGACY AWARD:  In 2018, the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury Dock, the Jamaican High Commission in London announced the launch of the Windrush Legacy Award.  They wanted to find 500 people of Jamaican heritage who had significantly contributed to the advancement and development of the United Kingdom.  As George’s widow, I was asked to nominate him for this award by the Committee of the Afro-Caribbean National Artistic Centre, in Nottingham, of which he was a founder member.  In September 2019 I was told that as his nomination was successful, and he would be amongst the 500 Jamaicans commemorated in Jamaicans in Britain - Celebrating a Legacy of Leadership, a legacy publication to be distributed to schools, libraries and educational institutions across the UK.

 

HIS ARCHIVE:  I then realised that the time had come to create an archive of his life by collating all the information and knowledge I have of him as a public figure.  This archive is comprised of his own documents, articles and publications, some from the internet searches, and memories of him over a period of over fifty years.


Jill Westby, 2021