London Exhibition: 13 Dead, Nothing Said

Vron Ware’s photographs documenting the Black People’s Day of Action (1981) will be on public display for the first time in this free exhibition. 

The images record an important moment of cultural resistance in post-war Britain's history of community organising. 

In the early hours of Sunday 18 January 1981 a fire broke out at 439 New Cross Road. 13 young black Londoners were killed as they were celebrating Yvonne Ruddock’s – one of the victims – birthday. 

One survivor committed suicide nearly two years later, bringing the official death count to 14. Concerns about racism had been running high in the area due to the active presence of the National Front. 

Several racially motivated arson attacks had already taken place in the London borough of Lewisham. Initial suspicion within the local community as well as the police was that the birthday party had been firebombed. 

In the face of public indifference, negative media coverage about the loss of 13 young black lives, and perceived police inaction to apprehend suspects, hundreds of people met on 25 January 1981 at the Moonshot Club to march in protest. 

The New Cross Massacre Action Committee was established and plans were made for the Black People’s Day of Action on 2 March 1981. 

The Black People’s Day of Action was a political and cultural turning point, with thousands of people coming together to protest against racist violence and police inaction. 

13 Dead, Nothing Said is running until 27th May 2017 at the Goldsmiths University of London. Free entrance.

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