People Dem Collective

Art by Shafia Motaleb, Written by Amy King & Megan Evans

Emerging in retaliation to George Floyd’s murder, People Dem Collective’s striking campaign for the Black Lives Matter movements and demonstrations are beginning to be acknowledged in and around the UK.

Based in Margate, this group promotes and takes a huge stand for racial equality, as well as raising funds to support the development of the new national cultural centre on Marine Drive in order to give space and engagement for the Black, Brown and Diaspora communities, as well as Roma/Traveller and LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Queer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual and Ally).

Founders, directors and friends Kelly and Victoria felt compelled to fuel a force of change in which they have stated, their already socially conscious town of Margate. But in any case of social consciousness, there is always space for more, resulting in the birth of their organisation…

“The collective was born out of a shared, lived experience. I was tired of listening to stories of racial abuse and dismissal from Black and Brown people in my social circles, so, I called some of them together in my front room and said, ‘The time is now. We are on a precipice of a positive, beautiful elevation never experienced in our lifetime. Let’s get it! Let’s build what’s needed and start in our town’, Founder Kelly Abbott.

Using music as an allied force in battling all kinds of discrimination, renown artists backing this movement such as singer songwriter Nao, and percussionist Falle Nioke, are just a couple of examples of people who projected this development. Instances where performers have risen to acknowledge and musically motivate others helps to give people the freedom and the platform that is required for them to exceed and promote this inclusion of identity and race.

Marches that were conducted by People Dem Collective were attended by 4000 people from the local and surrounding areas. Kelly Abbott, founder and director of People Dem Collective said:

“After attending a protest and reading a book on white privilege, people are asking, what now, how do I sustain my journey? The cultural centre will support that journey and provide a beautiful destination for us all to celebrate & support Black excellence”.

The organisation also staged an art exhibition at the Turner Contemporary within the summer, as a direct response from the murder of George Floyd and the many others that have lost their lives due to police brutality throughout the world. The exhibition included banners from the protests, real life accounts of encountered racism, and teachings of Black, Brown and Diaspora British history and identity to spread awareness and often unheard-of knowledge of the roots of systematic racism.

Primarily promoting their campaign on social media platforms and groups, the community now has a 4,000 following in which their fellow campaigners can communicate any contributions, personal stories, and opinions to them to take on in their local area of Margate.

Their most current and possibly to date most influential campaign was their Crowdfunder to support the development of a new national cultural centre based in Margate that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the town, the diversity of the thousands of visitors who come for the beach experience and the thriving arts scene and for those who live here. On 29th September 2020 they successfully raised £35,556 with 778 supporters in 49 days.

Since the success of the Crowdfunder, People Dem Collective and other creative practitioners plan to deliver culturally rich programmes that include identity, heritage, history, hair, music, art and food at the centre. The programmes are for everyone to engage in and learn about the beauty and the cultural experience of ‘others’ with a focus on British Black and Brown people & Roma/Travellers.

Groups and local organisation such as People Dem Collective give hope to local communities throughout the rest of the UK that when residents come together collectively (hence their name), positive change can be made to impact the place in which you live, whether that be social, physical, or systematic.

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