Search

Radical black publisher and pioneering social activist, Buzz Johnson, leaves lasting legacy

PUBLISHED: 14:44 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:44 24 March 2014

Buzz Johnson, photo Samuel Mcletchie/ Black Stock Photos

Buzz Johnson, photo Samuel Mcletchie/ Black Stock Photos

Archant

A pioneering, radical Black publisher and social activist who challenged neo-colonialism, injustice and discrimination has suddenly passed away aged 62.

Norris “Buzz” Johnson founded Karia Press in the 70s, which went on to publish Chris Searle’s Grenada Morning, about the Grenada Revolution, and A Blindfold Removed, about Ethiopian literacy, as well as a report on the Broadwater Farm riots.

Mr Johnson was also responsible for “re-discovering” the forgotten civil rights activist Claudia Jones, penning and publishing her compelling story in the book, I Think of My Mother.

Born in Tobago, he moved to Hackney in the 70s to study a degree in mechanical engineering and pure maths, living in Stoke Newington, Clapton and Homerton since that time.

He founded community institutions like the Claudia Jones Organisation in Stoke Newington which supports women of Afro-Caribbean heritage, supplementary schools to help boost educational attainment before it was de-rigueur, and community advice and drop-in centres to tackle issues like workers’ and welfare rights, school exclusion, deaths in custody, youth training, and pensioner isolation.

Educationalist and writer, Chris Searle, said: “The thing about Buzz was that within a short period he published material that was very important, epochal, really, covering diverse subjects - politics, poetry, autobiography, and reports like The Broadwater Farm Inquiry, about the Broadwater Farm riots in the 1980s, which was chaired by Lord Anthony Gifford.

“What is extraordinary is that he did it under his own steam with no money, but managed to publish so many important books – I don’t know how he did it.

“He helped to make some important careers because he published work that other publishers would not touch because the stuff was considered too radical.”

Ngoma Bishop from the Black and Ethnic Minority Arts Network (BEMA) added: “Perhaps the most beneficial lesson I learned from Buzz, and one that continues to inspire BEMA, is that one should preserver with a worthwhile cause.

“The difficulty of your struggle and the intensity of the opposition faced is usually the reason that you must strive for success and that failure is not an option.”

Mr Johnson had returned from a trip to visit his mother in Tobago when he died suddenly from an arterial haemorrhage on February 11.

Latest Hackney Stories

The Spurs manager admitted his team suffered ‘a little bit more’ than he would have liked during today’s derby with West Ham

The Hammers huffed and puffed but couldn’t beat Hugo Lloris

Yesterday, 17:00

FA Cup fourth qualifying round: Maidstone United 2 Leyton Orient 0

Yesterday, 13:56

Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has been discussing various topics with Layth Yousif during his exclusive interview this week. The talented 26-year-old invited Layth to his house for an in-depth discussion on a wide-ranging number of issues as the star prepares to launch his first soccer school at the end of this month. Read on for more...

Yesterday, 09:00

Crystal Palace loanee Levi Lumeka is not available for the O’s

Yesterday, 08:30

His name was Callum, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Yesterday, 01:34

West Ham United Hammers midfielder Jack Wilshere says there is far more to come from Manuel Pellegrini’s side this season.

Fri, 18:00

Ultra-marathon hero Kevin Webber was presented with a cheque for £150,000 after completing seven walking marathons in seven days

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now


Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists