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George Powe 1926-2013

A public figure, a private man

 

 

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.

 

This archive is comprised of his own documents, articles, and publications, some from internet searches, and memories of him over a period of over fifty years.

 

“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 [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] 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

 

"To truly understand our city and our society today requires that we understand the role that George and the people who struggled alongside him played.  But the stories and achievements of Black people have been under-represented in the telling of our history.  We have to put that right.  We have to examine who we choose to celebrate and commemorate, and ensure that Black working-class people are part of that."  Nadia Whittome, Nottingham East MP 

 

WINDRUSH LEGACY AWARD:  In 2018, the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury Dock, the Jamaican High Commission in London launched a Windrush Legacy Award to find 500 people of Jamaican heritage who had significantly contributed to the advancement and development of the United Kingdom.  As one of the 500 selected he is commemorated in Jamaicans in Britain - Celebrating a Legacy of Leadership, a legacy publication co-authored and curated by publisher Joy Sigaud of Editions Media in April 2022. 

("Jamaicans in Britain:  A Legacy of Leadership Book")

 

HIS ARCHIVE:  I 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, comprised of his own documents, articles and publications, some from internet searches, and memories of him over a period of over fifty years.

 

BLUE PLAQUE:  On July 28, 2022, 78 years to the day from his joining the RAF, a blue plaque was erected on the front of the house where he lived for over thirty years.

 

BUS NAMING:  On August 11, 2022, which was the 96th anniversary of his birth, Nottingham City Transport named a Number 45 (his local route) bus after him. 

("Nottingham City Transport Honours Civil Rights Campaigner George Powe")

 

 

Formatting

The documents, images, andtranscripts in this archive speak mainly for themselves.  Wherever possible I have included copies of original documents, but in some cases the original typeface, sometimes from a carbon copy of typed text, was difficult to read, and so appear as transcriptions.  At various points it has been necessary for me to add comments, explanations, or content which resides only in my memory.  These entries are shown using green italics.

 

Jill Westby (his widow)