Linda Bellos speaking at Croydon Area Gay Society during Black History Month 2010.
13 December 1950 |
|Alma mater||University of Sussex|
|Occupation||Businessperson, politician, activist|
|Known for||Lesbian and feminist activism|
Bellos was born in London to a Jewish mother, Renee Sackman, and a Nigerian father, Emmanuel Adebowale, who came from Uzebba and joined the merchant navy during the Second World War. Raised in Brixton, she was educated at Silverthorne Girls’ Secondary Modern School, Dick Shephard Comprehensive School and the University of Sussex. She married in 1970 and gave birth to two children, in 1974 and 1976. She came out as a lesbian in 1980. Her marriage ended in divorce in 1983. She is now a grandmother.
On 21 December 2005, she and her partner, Caroline Jones, entered into a civil partnership in the UK. The ceremony took place amongst family and friends at Southwark Registry Office. She now lives in Norwich.
Bellos is a revolutionary feminist and was the first non-white lesbian to join the Spare Rib feminist collective in 1981. She criticises the movement's 'point scoring' and the manner in which the women's movement was, in her view, dominated by white, middle-class women. She rejects the term ‘mixed race’ because she considers that every attempt to define race is reduced to definitions of skin colour. She uses the term 'mixed heritage' instead. Bellos is a person of African and Eastern European Jewish heritage. She uses the inclusive political term of ‘black’ to describe herself.
She was vice-chair of the successful Black Sections campaign to select African Caribbean and Asian parliamentary and local candidates within the Labour Party.
In 1985 Bellos was elected as a Labour councillor to Lambeth London Borough Council and was leader of the council between 1986 and 1988. She was the second black woman to become leader of a British local authority, after Merle Amory in the northwest London borough of Brent. Bellos resigned as leader on 21 April 1988 after disputes within the Labour Party over the setting of the Council budget. She was a prominent figure in left-wing politics in London in the 1980s and was labelled by The Sun as a member of the 'Loony Left'. Bellos attempted to become a parliamentary candidate, without success, most notably for Vauxhall.
Bellos was the treasurer of the Africa Reparations Movement (UK). She was co-chair of the Southwark LGBT Network until February 2007 and an adviser to Southwark Council. From 2000 to 2003, she was co-chair of the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police. She remains a community activist.
As a lesbian feminist, Bellos argued strongly in the early 1980s that an inclusive approach to women’s issues must take account of social class, minority and majority ethnic identity, disability, sexual identity and religion. This approach was unpopular at the time but has since become accepted as equality law and social attitudes have changed. No longer regarded as ‘loony left’, Bellos now teaches employers and their staff to apply the Equality Act 2010, the Human Rights Act 1998 and other equality law.
She has accomplished many firsts in her fight for equality, notably originating Black History Month in the UK whilst chair of the London Strategic Policy Unit.
Bellos has worked on mainstreaming equality within many public bodies, including the British Army and the Metropolitan Police Service. She was an Independent Advisor to the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
She is a founder member and current Chair of The Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners.
Bellos provides equality, diversity and human rights consultancy and training services to the UK’s commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors. Her company is called Linda Bellos Associates .
On 9 December 2002, she was presented (together with Stephen Bourne) with the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Awards "in recognition of outstanding contribution in supporting the local community."
In 2006, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours for services to diversity. She was reticent about receiving the award because she considers its association with a defeated Empire as outdated and the Honour should be renamed. She was encouraged to accept it by her family.
Radio, TV, and writing
Bellos is a regular guest on radio and television programmes, contributing to discussions on many topics including equality, human rights and feminism.
As an author, she has contributed to a number of anthologies, including IC3, the Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, ISBN 0-14-028733-7.
- Part of core business (pdf) - August 2003
- "Whatever happened to feminism's extreme sects?". The Independent (London). 12 February 2006.
- "MBE for 80-year-old shoe shiner". BBC News. 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- Will Woodward (30 December 2006). "OBE to fighter for equality | Politics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- on YouTube
- Call for action on diversity BBC News - 4 June 2001 (scroll down to bottom of page)
- Crucial lessons on race and policing BBC News - 3 August 2005
- Whatever happened to feminism's extreme sects? The Independent, 12 February 2006
- 'Yes, we were bloody angry', The Guardian - 15 February 2006
- OBE to fighter for equality - The Guardian, 30 December 2006
- Best of Times, Worst of Times: Linda Bellos - interview by Katharine Hibbert, Times Online, 25 February 2007
- Fairness, equality and the white working class The Guardian, 19 November 2010
- The conversation: Why black history matters
- Angry Britain: why are we becoming so intolerant?
- The Lawrence verdict and racism in Britain