Phenomenal Woman: Olive Morris

Olive Morris was a Jamaican born women’s rights activist who came to London in the 1970s and left behind a fantastic legacy of community-based activism during her short time on this Earth.

Born in 1952, Morris was called to be an advocate for the voiceless, she was a core member of the British Black Panthers Movement and also a co-founder of the Brixton Black Women’s Group and the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD).

olive and police

Morris held spheres of influence in both London and Manchester, but she spent most of her 27 years in Manchester protesting and committing to ending racial and gendered oppression.

When she was just 17 years old, she faced police brutality for the first, but not the last time. She was defending a Nigerian diplomat who had been falsely accused of stealing a car and, as a result, received a severe beating at the hands of officers.

Morris was also a keen squatter and believed that squatting was a way to get Black people and other ethnic minorities out of living in dangerous, unsuitable conditions. She often occupied empty buildings with friends, converting them into safe havens.

Olive Morris died in 1979 as a result of cancer. She lived a full life despite her young age, having travelled across the globe to places such as China, Morocco and Spain.

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