Olive Morris (1952 – 1979) was a Lambeth based community leader and activist in the feminist, Black Nationalist and squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s in the United Kingdom. Morris was born in Jamaica in 1952 and moved to London, England, with her family at an early age.
She died in 1979 at the age of 27 from a non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In her short live she achieved a staggering amount: she co-founded the Organisationof Women of African and Asian Descent and the Brixton Black Women’s Group. By the time she died of at the age of 27, she had also helped set up the Brixton Law Centre, and was active in the Black Panther movement, too. As an activist for squatters’ rights she helped re-house many black families in south London during the 1970s; and as an advocate for justice and equality who was central to the campaign to abolish the SUS laws.
One story tells of a 17-year-old Olive stepping into the fray after police stopped and searched a black man they suspected of stealing a Mercedes (he was a Nigerian diplomat who had stopped to do some shopping). She was beaten and arrested. By all accounts shewas fearless – and committed to changing Britain for the better.
Seven years after her death, Lambeth council honoured Morris by naming a building after her Olive Morris House, which has now been earmarked for redevelopment.
She has been commemorated in currency – an image of her, talking into a loudspeaker, is on the Brixton pound note.