Free University of Black Studies: 51.522935, -0.133126
Free University of Black Studies
Roy Sawh, the Guyanese Indian Black Power leader, established the Free University of Black Studies in 1968. Initially housed in Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill, the university moved to a basement room in Gower Street in 1972. Reporting on the university after its move, black South African journalist Lionel Morrison described ‘a not-so-cosy basement, a motley group of people’, and three-hour discussions. On the night Morrison visited, the crowd was mixed—service workers, university students, housewives with their children, trade unionists. The university’s definition of black studies was broad, and each week courses ran in Caribbean, African and South Asian history, alongside general education in science and mathematics. Sawh insisted that the ‘black’ in the university’s title referred to a ‘attitude of mind’, and not a ‘skin colour’. Morrison recorded Caribbean, African, South Asian and white students present on the night he visited.The Free University was fiercely independent. In the late 1960s, it resisted efforts from the Inner London Education Authority to incorporate it into their provision, and in the early 1970s, it returned a £1,000 donation from the World Council of Churches in order to assert its independence, and its refusal to be co-opted to any outside political line.