Barbara Jacobs explores how Leicester transformed itself from one of the most racist cities in the UK to one of the most tolerant. And Tony Roe reveals the 'thankful villages'.
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Hello. Tonight, Inside Out is in Derby to remember a war long past
and some more recent battles. It was branded the most recent --
racist city. How did Leicester transform itself? No Blacks, No
Irish, No Dogs. This is Britain! And later in the programme, Tony
Roe recovers the remarkable story of the villages with no War
Memorial. The idea that there are villages and communities where
everyone came home, what joy and happiness there must have been.
This is Inside Out for the East Imagine a city where pubs, clubs
and guest houses openly discriminated against immigrants,
and where racial tension ran so high there were riots on the
streets. That's how broadcaster and student protester Barbara Jacobs
remembers the Leicester of her youth. We asked her to go back in
time to investigate how a city with such problems could become the
diverse community of today. And we should warn you, her film does
start with some offensive language from the era and includes violent
It was supposed to be comic satire. But not so long ago, Alf Garnett's
rants reflected more of the mainstream view than we care to
admit. The great British Empire! It is being given away to a load off...
That makes for an uncomfortable watch. I know people call it
political correctness, but I would rather be correct that listen to
that. However, it was a piece of its time. Its time was the 1970s.
There was I huge raid -- wave of resentment, what he calls the
British Empire and should have been called the British Commonwealth,
there were floods of people coming in, and naturally this led some
people to feeling very resentful, particularly in the city which at
that time was Britain's most racist city. It was one of the biggest
police operations ever mounted outside London. 5,000 police men
were brought to Leicester from 5,000 -- several forces. Some of
the worst violence occurred on the campus of the University of
Leicester. The fact that they are born here does not make them
British. They must be repaid created along with those who had
actually come into this country -- repatriated.
It was a time of pitched battles on the streets of the midlands as the
Anti-Nazi League and the National Front fought each other, and far
right views surged in popularity. But I want to find out how
Leicester fought back against its racist reputation. Has the
prejudice simply moved out of the town and into the countryside? To
find out, I need to revisit my own protesting past. Let's rewind to
1964 when I was a student at the University of Leicester. Just down
there, it was the most racist public in Leicester. Black people
were allowed downstairs but not upstairs. What is that all about?
It is like apartheid, that is what it struck us as. So we decided we
would do less it in. What was amazing was that our local
newspaper, the Leicester Mercury, actually did give us a bit of a
slot. It was just a bit bigger on the front page and a lorry sinks
into whole. Today, it would be all over the front page. But of course,
times have changed. Her the new national health service starts,...
When the Second World War ended, Britain needed workers - huge
numbers of them - to help reconstruct a war-battered country.
The appeal went out, and immigrants of 'good stock' were welcomed from
Britain's Commonwealth counties, including the Caribbean, to fill
the gaps in the labour market. I'm meeting three people who arrived in
Leicester during this time, to find I arrived from Jamaica. And during
the week, and as it church-going member of the community, I tried to
go to the church across the road. I walked in, and the pastor said,
welcome, but when did you come and when are you going back? No Blacks,
No Irish, no children have no dogs. This is Britain!
Staff shortages in British hospitals had been a problem even
before the founding of the NHS in 1948. In the 50s, the workforce
boomed, and senior NHS staff travelled to the Caribbean to
recruit new staff. But when new nurses arrived in Britain, they
found their welcome was often less than warm. Some of the patients
enquired as to whether it was the first time I had worn clothes. And
if it was the first time I had worn a bra. And I said, no. You are
talking about something that is different. I said I am not from
Africa, where you see dancing ladies without clothes. So they did
not have a clue, basically? they were ignorant in that fact,
that we were British subject. After months of protest, the
landlord of 'The Nelson' finally agreed to lift his ban on black
customers. We'd won our battle, but we hadn't won the war. World events
were about to put an even greater strain on racial harmony in
Leicester. Martin Luther King had a dream. So did the Ugandan dictator
Idi Amin. But a completely different kind of a dream. They
hold situation... Idi Amin's dream was to expel the
country's entire Asian community. Over many years, they'd become a
dominant force in the economy of this former British colony, playing
key roles in business, trade and the civil service. There have been
milking the economy of the country. The responsibility in Uganda, it is
the responsibility of Great Britain. Amin accused the Asian community of
hoarding wealth and sabotaging 'his' country. In reality, it was
his own extravagance which put a strain on the national budget. A
land grab began, and thousands of Ugandan Asians were given 90 days
to leave. Many of them have British passports. 50,000 of them were
thrown out. Some went to North America, some meant -- went to
other countries but the majority came to Britain. At the majority of
those who came to Britain came here, to Leicester.
In 1972, Leicester was a prosperous city and many Ugandan Asians found
jobs in hosiery manufacturing. But was Leicester the safe haven they
hoped for? I'm meeting brother and sister Nisha and Atal who fled
Uganda as children. You came here and thought it was a safe haven,
clearly it was not, was it? Something happened. That is correct.
Back in those days we had a glorious summer's. And they used to
attract a fair ground here. There was a group of English boys, boys
or men, they did not seem to be troubling anyone. But what they
were doing was taking all the wooden stakes out of the fence. And
the minute the fairground finished, that was the cue. Or you could see
was about 60 guys running across. They were swinging those things
indiscriminately. He ever came in the way, whether it was an man or a
woman, a child, whatever. At person got hit. You can imagine, it was
pandemonium. It is probably the most frightening episode of my life.
I would put it on a Power, I would remember being scared at the
airport in Uganda with all the soldiers. And all of a sudden, that
whole thing was re enacted but in a different way.
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 770 seconds
BELLS RING. We are in love for breath. -- we are in Loughborough.
The cavalry regiment are farmers or farm workers. A ledger listing the
names of the meant holds a surprise.. It says he joined up in
1911. He would have been 11 years old. He had lied about his age. He
was 15 when he first saw action. He was a lance corporal in 1916. At
the age of 17, too young to fight, he was lance corporal and having
fought a major battle. The Scot -- astonishing. The battle is
remembered every year at Bradgate Park, near Leicester. Some of the
cadets here were probably as old as some of the soldiers in World War
One. The Honorary Colonel of the Leicestershire and Derbyshire
Yeomanry today is the great- grandson of the man who left them -
- led them into battle. This is rather a nice little picture. It
does not see the light of day very often, but it is something very
special. These squadrons were under attack on the front line.
squadron's wanted to withdraw, and they started to withdraw, and a
great cry went up, hold hard, listened -- Leicestershire
Yeomanry! They subsequently fell. His great-grandfather led A
squadron. My grandfather, a was a commanding officer, was killed at
half-past six in the morning. He was out of it before the battle
really got going. The a squadron, which a Greek -- originally come
from Melton Mowbray and luck -- run and, held the line, and had they
not done so the Germans would have gone straight through. My dad was
in covering letter seat Scotland. - We have a photograph of him here
from his wedding in August 1914. He would have been 15 years old. He
does look older. He could pass for 17 or 18 quite easily. He was the
to save the day at the battle. The Life Guards had retreated.
bombardment had completely wiped out the front trenches. It had
disappeared in red mist. A knot of Yeoman with the infantry attack the
Your dad would have been in that front trench. I don't think he
would have forgotten it. He would not have forgotten it until the end
of his days. We found a veteran of that battle on his 100 birthday. I
did the interview 15 years ago, not knowing he had fought with my dad.
You must have seen some terrible things. Both sides were in battled.
There are many more stories to be found in villages. On the first
grave you see is one of the returning soldiers. Dead at 23
years old. He died from exhaustion or four years after the war. In
Nearly 50 years ago, as a student in the 60s, Barbara Jacobs was on the frontline of the war against racism in Leicester. The city had the unenviable reputation as the most racist in the UK. In 1972, the arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asians triggered National Front marches through the streets and an outcry from locals. Inside Out asked Barbara to go back to meet some of those involved and find out how the city transformed itself from one of the most racist to one of the most tolerant places in the UK. Also tonight, Tony Roe is on the trail of the few - exploring the 'thankful villages' which didn't need a war memorial because everyone returned from World War One.