John Richard Archer – Britains first Black Mayor – 1913

John Richard Archer
John Richard Archer

John Richard Archer was Britain’s first black Mayor. He was also the first black person to hold Civic Office in Britain as Councillor, Alderman and then
mayor.

Archer was born in Liverpool in 1836 to a Barbadian father and an Irish mother. He settled in Battersea in London around 1890 with his black Canadian wife, there they opened an award winning photographic studio in Battersea Park Road.

Black Mayor of Battersea
Black Mayor of Battersea

He came to prominence as an outstanding public speaker when he supported John Burns in the 1905 General Election. Then, in 1906 he won the local election and became Britains first British born black Councillor. Until he was nominated there was no mention by the opposition parties of his colour. Later they used his race to
supposedly highlight the radical policies of Battersea’s working class tradition.

In 1913 he was elected the tenth Mayor of Battersea.

The night of his election he declaredYou have made history tonight..Battersea has done many things in it’s past, but the greatest thing that it has done is show that it has no colour predjudice, and that it recognizes a man for the work he has
done.

At the 1921 Pan African Congress he introduced Shapurji Saklatvala who was an Indian Communist to both the Labour party and the Communist
Party. John Richard Archer died in 1932.

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