Love Music Hate Racism: ‘Now more than ever we need to fight hatred with celebration,’ says leading anti-racism charity

Harriet Brewis

Anti-racism campaigners are calling for their “biggest celebration yet” amid growing international tensions and heated discrimination rows.

Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) is a charity which harnesses the power of song to bring people together, using education and events to tackle “bigotry and hatred”.

This month, its campaigners began fundraising for its latest show of unity: a bold and vibrant float to parade at Notting Hill Carnival.

Trump’s comments this week, the electoral successes of right-wing groups across Europe – these highlight the challenges we still face around bringing people together,” LMHR campaigns coordinator Zak Cochrane told the Standard.

The charity is fundraising so it can celebrate its anti-racism message at this year's Notting Hill Carnival (Love Music Hate Racism)

“I think things like carnival, and what we do with music in general, are such useful tools at uniting communities because music is a universal language.

“Lots of people, no matter what their background, listen to the same music, so it’s such an effective way at getting different people into the room.”

Zak, 33, said the charity’s aim was to “rediscover” the west London parade’s “anti-racist roots”.

“Since its conception at the end of the 1950s, the carnival has been such an important beacon of resistance against racism,” he said.

If they reach their fundraising goal, this will be the charity's third year at the west London Carnival (Love Music Hate Racism)

“Yes, it’s a celebration of Caribbean culture, but it originally came about at a time of race riots in London and other parts of the UK.”

Claudia Jones helped organised the first Mardi-Gras-inspired party at St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959, in a bid to bring together black and white communities.

The event was a success, and since then, it’s Notting Hill offspring has grown into one of the largest street carnivals in the world.

“Our band theme this year is ‘carnival of resistance’, because we want to pay tribute to Claudia’s legacy: using positive celebration to bring people together, rather than bitter language that pulls us apart.”

The charity needs to raise £10,000 to secure a float in this year’s parade, which will run from 6am on Sunday, August 25, to the following evening.

The money will go towards the 44-tonne float itself, as well as security throughout the event, sound systems, costumes and refreshments for volunteers.

If it reaches its financial target, LMHR will stage performances by veteran band Smokey Joe Roadshow, which has played at the carnival for more than 35 years.

DJ Smokey Joe (far left) along with two of the charity's campaigners (Love Music Hate Racism)

DJ Smokey Joe said of his partnership with the charity: “Since teaming up with Love Music Hate Racism, I’ve decided that I’m going to do carnival with a purpose.

“We’re not going out on the road to do protests like you would on a march, we’re going out there and still having fun.

“But just the mere presence of LMHR on the road – just with the banners and the t-shirts – says it all.”

The charity was set up in 2002 and has since held activities, concerts and talks across the county to raise awareness of its cause (Love Music Hate Racism)

If successful in its Crowdfunding campaign, this will be the charity’s third year participating in the carnival.

It’s first year took place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, while its second was marred by rainstorms.

This year, it’s hoping for a more joyful occasion, with skies as clear as its message: “There is more that unites us than divides us; and nothing demonstrates this more than music.

“Whatever the genre, music is living testimony to the fact that cultures can and do mix.

“Music has the power to unite, to give strength and to effect positive social change.

“Racism, on the other hand, weakens us.”