Born to Irish parents in Brent, Jack Dromey was instrumental in supporting the groundbreaking Grunwick strikes in Dollis Hill and now serves as Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Erdington.
“My Dad came from county Cork to dig roads. My Mother came from county Tipperary to train as a nurse in a London hospital. They met, ironically, in the Galtymore Dance Halls just up in Cricklewood Broadway where tens of thousands of Irish marriages were formed and I was born in Kilburn in the days it used to be called County Kilburn.”
In this Locked In episode, Jack speaks to Blueprint Collective member Macsen Brown about being on the picket lines alongside the inspirational Jayaben Desai- leader of the Grunwick factory protests. The strike became a movement and remains a defining moment for class solidarity, feminism, union representation, antiracism and social justice.
“He said ‘You’re like animals in a zoo’. And that wonderful line by Jayaben, when she said, ‘Mr Manager, Mr Manager in a zoo there are many animals. There are different animals. There are lions.’ She said, ‘who will bite your head off and we are those lions.’ And out they walked, onto Chapter Road, no idea what to do next. They’d just had enough.”
How have Brent’s legends been coping during the ongoing pandemic, and what might it mean for their work and practice?
In this new video series, guest hosts from the Blueprint Collective catch up – in a socially distanced way, of course – with legendary musicians, artists, athletes and activists from across the borough to find out how they’ve been affected and perhaps even inspired by the COVID-19 crisis. Along the way, we dig deeper into our guests’ connections to Brent, discovering what they’ve been reading, watching, hearing and absorbing during this strange and frightening time – and hearing more about how they’re responding.
This forms part of Brent 2020 Unlocked.