When Malcolm X visited Smethwick after racist election | UK | Al Jazeera – His final foreign trip saw him travel to the relatively unknown English town, near the city of Birmingham, and home to a large Asian and West Indian immigrant population.
In the year before his arrival, Smethwick hosted Britain’s most racist election.
In 1964, 800,000 immigrants lived in the UK, 70,000 of whom resided in Birmingham, dubbed “the British Harlem” by the press.
White, working-class communities ignited racial tension as they transferred their economic frustrations onto immigrants.
In Smethwick, the immigrant population was 6.7 percent, far higher than the national one percent.
The local Conservative-led council purchased houses on Marshall Street in a bid to prevent immigrants from moving into the area.
Over the years, the town was drip-fed racist rhetoric – first by Oswald Mosely, leader of the British Union of Fascists who was elected as MP of the constituency in 1926, followed by Conservative candidate Peter Griffiths, who was elected in 1964, having campaigned on a hostile anti-immigration platform.