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Change Is Here: The Black Equity Organisation launched today

BY BEO | 23/05/2022

National and independent civil rights group, founded by some of the most influential Black leaders in the country, set up to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain

The Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a national and independent civil-rights organisation founded to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain has launched today.

Founded by some of the UK’s most influential Black leaders from the worlds of business, law, arts and social justice including McKinsey & Company senior partner Dame Vivian Hunt, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP, historian and presenter Professor David Olusoga, WPP UK Country manager Karen Blackett OBE and artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, BEO aims to advance justice and equity for Black people across the country.

The formation of BEO began two years ago when, on July 29, 2020 Lammy, after consulting founding trustees Dame Vivian and Blackett, convened a work session for the design and delivery of a national, strategic race equality organisation in the UK – one that would have the same level of depth and scale as the NACCP in the US.

At launch BEO already has backing and support of some of leading companies including Sky, who will be the group’s first official programme partner, WPP, who have provided pro bono marketing and communications support as well as charitable foundation Lankelly Chase and several of the country’s foremost law firms.

A powerful campaign video Change Is Here is also released today to coincide with the launch. Voiced by actress and Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh the film includes images taken by photographer Misan Harriman, the first Black man to shoot a cover of British Vogue.

BEO’s Chair of Trustees Dame Vivian Hunt said: “We are proud to launch the Black Equity Organisation, the UK’s first national Black British civil rights organisation. We are committed to addressing the full range of systemic challenges facing the Black British population and will help both Black and all Britons reach their full potential. We respect and stand on the shoulders of the many grassroots organisations across the country. We will convene and work in partnership with grassroots, national and ally organisations to deliver real change.”

Systemic racism, the legacy of historic policies and attitudes means that 50% of Black children live in poverty1, Black mothers are four times more likely to die in childbirth2 and at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Black people were four times more likely to die from Covid 19 than White people3.

Launched the week the world remembers the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and the global wave of anti-racist protests, BEO will focus on six key areas where Black people face greatest inequity:

  • Driving economic empowerment and equity of opportunity
  • Addressing unequal education outcomes
  • Combating sources of racial discrimination within justice, immigration and human rights
  • Driving representation and respect across all sectors of society
  • Working to improve health and care outcomes for Black people
  • Ensuring that Black families can access good quality housing and our communities have access to good quality public services

BEO will work with and complement the work grassroots, community and other charity organisations who have been tackling these issues for decades to bring about change. The organisation already has wide support from community organisations and allies.

It also recognises for there to be real change, institutions and businesses, people and communities need to come to get to drive that change and invites everyone who wants to see justice and equality to join with it. It will use all the tools available to ensure that there is equity for Black people including litigation where appropriate to challenge systemic racism through the courts.

The organisation will also create partnerships and programmes to support Black communities across the country. Its first official programme partner Sky has been actively involved since the organisation’s inception. Sky has contributed financial support and advice and is funding a new programme rooted in BEO’s strategic pillar focused on economic empowerment and equity of opportunity.

In addition to those named above, BEO’s Board of Trustees also includes business leader and philanthropist Ric Lewis, social-justice lawyer Marcia Willis Stewart QC, disability campaigner Michelle Daley, activist & social entrepreneur, Yvonne Field and co-founder of Conservatives Against Racism for Equality Siobhan Aarons. Its youngest trustee is 19-year-old former youth MP Athian Akec.

Dame Vivian added also said: “The challenges that Black Britons face have been developing over many generations. BEO aims to set up a collaborative and generational response. We want to be the change that is needed to deliver both protest and systemic progress.”