Olive Morris was born in Jamaica in 1953 and moved to Britain when she was nine as a part of the Windrush generation. A community organiser and activist, she focused her efforts on Black rights, feminism and squatters rights.
In 1968, she became a key member of the Black British Panther Movement. At the age of 16 she witnessed a Nigerian diplomat being assaulted by police, and though only a petite 5’2” young woman herself, she placed herself between the police and the man to try and stop the attack. She was outraged by seeing the police target a black man because he happened to be driving a nice car (a reminder that though there has been progress some things haven’t changed). The police turned on her, and she was physically assaulted and received a suspended sentence. It seems that for all of her life, she dedicated herself to standing against injustice.
She studied Social Sciences at Manchester University, where she joined the Manchester Black Women’s Cooperative. She used her education and influence to actively advocate for change. She had the rights of black women at the forefront of her mind and cofounded the Brixton Black Women’s Group in 1974, and the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD).
The amount she accomplished in her young life is incredible. In addition to her activism, or perhaps as part of it, she had an interest in travel, and visited China as part of a student delegation. She also travelled to Morocco, Algeria, Spain, France, and Hong Kong.
During her travels, Olive became ill on a trip to Spain. Despite treatment, she passed away the following year from cancer at only 27 years old.
Ahead of her time, I think if she was alive today, she would fit seamlessly into the Black Lives Matter movement and be very keen on learning about other cultures and the advancement of civil rights. She clearly faced significant hardships in life, but I love the photos of her looking carefree and embracing life - going on cycling holidays with her boyfriend.
If she were in her 20s today, I see her studying to become a human rights lawyer. Organising protests and / or letters to politicians to change policy. Travelling to connect to other activists across the world. I also see her backpacking through Asia, visiting different African countries and hanging out in cafes across Europe.
She’d be hugely influential on twitter, but it wouldn’t stop there, she’d be out in the world making a difference. I imagine her loving the comfort of our Organic Cotton Wireless Bra and matching Briefs, and when she’d be invited to address the UN, she’d be comparing notes with Malala and Greta, dressed in a killer suit with a Plumetis bodysuit underneath, confident in her own skin.