Black History Month 2017

Rivers of Blood in Wolverhampton? Enoch Powell, Racism and Resistance

Faculty of Social Sciences Black History Month Lecture 2017

Wolverhampton protests against Enoch Powell. Photo courtesy of the Express and StarDate: Thursday 19 October

Time: 5.30pm to 7pm

Venue: MH002, Ground Floor, Mary Seacole Building, Nursery Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1AD

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About the lecture

‌Almost fifty years ago Enoch Powell made national headlines in what would become known of as his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. He dramatically warned of an immigrant invasion in the once respectable streets of Wolverhampton. This focus brought the Black Country town into the national spotlight, yet Powell’s unstable relationship with Wolverhampton has since been overlooked.

This lecture explores this relationship further.  It draws out a rich local history which Powell's words reflected, distorted and reformulated. Through interviews and archival research, the talk examines alternative responses to the speech and allows us to reflect on questions of race, class and resistance in Wolverhampton.

In a contemporary period of economic crisis and national divisions, revisiting the shadow of Powell is pertinent in grappling with emerging change.

Photo: Protest against Enoch Powell in Wolverhampton, photo courtesy of the Express and Star.

Introduction by Eleanor Smith MP

Introduction by Eleanor Smith MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West, on race equality today.
Eleanor Smith was elected in the 2017 general election, becoming the West Midlands' first ever Afro-Caribbean MP after winning the seat once held by the Conservative MP Enoch Powell.


Dr. Shirin Hirsch, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History at the University of Wolverhampton. Shirin is currently completing a book on Enoch Powell, race and resistance which will be published by Manchester University Press in 2018.

Further information

For further information about the lecture contact Dr Richard Hawkins by email to