Deciphering Culture

Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship: rock against racism in the 1950s?

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Reposted from History is made at night

Jazz musician John Dankworth died last month. As this BBC film from 1959 shows, one of his early achievements was to chair the Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship, founded in 1959 to combat the activities of the White Defence League. As well as Dankworth, members of the campaign included Cleo Laine, Tommy Steele, Lonnie Donegan (looking very like a young Billy Bragg), Humphrey Lyttelton, and folk singer Karl Dallas.

As described at Love Music Hate Racism, Colin Jordan’s White Defence League later merged as part of the first British National Party in 1960, with Jordan’s former comrade John Tyndall later going on to form the National Front and then the current BNP. Jordan, who was once jailed for trying to burn down synagogues, was later the fuhrer of the British Movement leading a motley crew of neo-nazi skinheads to nowhere in the 1980s.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

March 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

One Response

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  1. […] direct precursor to Rock Against Racism and today’s Love Music Hate Racism campaign was the Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship, founded in 1959 to combat the activities of the White Defence League (sic) in London’s […]


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