Rock Against Racism
Published by RareBirds 2023
Preface by Carol Tullock
Introduction by Dr Mark Sealy
Only 2 Available
An outstanding photography book documenting a movement that rocked the world. Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism is a body of photographs that Shelton produced for and about the British Rock Against Racism movement (RAR) of 1976–1981. For Shelton, this work was a socialist act, what he calls a “graphic argument,” on behalf of marginalised lives.
Shelton joined RAR in early 1977 on his return to England from Australia. He did so because he found his birthplace a more racist country than it had been when he left. This was marked by the increased political presence of the National Front, notably its gain of some 119,000 votes in the Greater London Council Elections of May 1977. Shelton, like millions of others, feared for the future of multi-cultural Britain. His contribution to RAR was to be on the London committee, to create graphic material with other RAR members such as the RAR publication “Temporary Hoarding,” posters’ badges and his photography—RAR did not have an official photographer. Shelton’s instinctive need to document RAR—its events, contributors, and supporters—has resulted in the largest collection of images on the movement. Alongside his documentation of RAR, Shelton took photographs of what he calls “the contextual images,” the lives and landscapes that were defined by others as “different,” and that often fueled racist acts of violence by simply being.
What is presented here are Shelton’s authoritative visual statements as participant-photographer on the social tempo in Britain at this time and the activist potency of RAR.