Olive Morris – Graduate, activist, founder and published writer.
Olive Elaine Morris was born in the Jamaican town of Harewood in 1952. When she was nine years old, her family came to England as part of the Windrush generation. Olive dropped out of school without any qualifications but went on to study printing at the London College of Printing. The late 1960s and early 1970s were particularly difficult for Britain’s post-war African, African-Caribbean, and Asian communities: there was increased tension between the police and the black community, as well as attacks by fascist groups and housing and employment discrimination. Morris was a member of a number of activist organisations throughout her lifetime. Many Black political organisations were based in and around Brixton, which was a hotspot for counter-culture political activity. Morris organised rallies and protests and helped found the Brixton Black Women’s Group, one of the UK’s first black women’s networks, in 1973. She was also a founding member of the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent. Morris returned to Brixton after graduating from Manchester University in 1978 to work in the Brixton Community Law Centre’s juvenile department. She travelled numerous times, examining social issues and advocating for the idea that equitable distribution of the world’s resources can be carried out, regardless of a person’s sexuality, race, or social class. However, Morris was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after becoming unwell on a trip to Spain in 1978. As a result of her unsuccessful treatment, Morris passed away in 1979.
Morris travelled, published writings, organised protests, established support groups and got prosecuted during her 27 years of life, in order to raise awareness of injustices and fight against discrimination.