Jeremy Corbyn unveils portrait of history-making black MP Bernie Grant

Bernie Grant was one of the first black MPs elected to Parliament

The portrait captures Grant in the robes he wore to the State Opening of Parliament

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A portrait of pioneering black MP Bernie Grant, one of the first black MPs elected to Parliament, has been unveiled in Parliament by Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader was on hand to honour his long-time friend and fellow anti-racism campaigner at an official ceremony at Portcullis House last night.

The portrait was drawn by Kelvin Okafor, an artist from Grant's constituency of Tottenham, and captures the former left-wing firebrand in the Ghanaian robes he wore to the State Opening of Parliament after his election.

Grant was one of three black MPs elected to Parliament in 1987 - the first time any black politician had been sent to the lower chamber.

A life-long socialist, he worked as a British Railways clerk, a National Union of Public Employees area officer, and a partisan of the Black Trade Unionists Solidarity Movement.

His death in 2000, at the age of 56, was greeted with mourning by politicians of all sides, with Tony Blair describing him as "an inspiration to Black British communities everywhere".

Grant's eponymous charitable trust sent a message of thanks to Corbyn following last night's ceremony, describing the unveiling as "emotional."

Momentum, the hard-left pressure group set up in response to Corbyn's leadership election victory in 2015, also offered its own moving tweet.

The group wrote: "Bernie will always be remembered in our Movement as a hugely popular man of the people that every black man and woman should aspire to emulate.

"'Bernie Grant - African Rebel' fitting tribute to a man who was a powerful link between black communities in Britain & rest of the World