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Professor Gus John

Professor Gus (Augustine) John is an equality and human rights campaigner and an associate professor and honorary fellow of the UCL Institute of Education. Gus is an international consultant and executive coach and a scholar and activist, who is also an award winning author, lecturer and researcher. He was born in Grenada and came to England in 1964 at the age of 19 to study Theology and has lived in the UK since, dedicating his life to working to improve lives through education and the struggle for racial and social justice.

Gus has done notable work in the field of education policy making and implementation. This work started in Oxford in the middle 1960s, where, working with Caribbean parents and students, he established the first Saturday school in that city and started defending black children’s education rights and challenging the practice of labelling them as educationally subnormal (ESN) and sending disproportionate numbers of them to ESN schools. Gus later founded, with a number of other education campaigners the Caribbean Education and Community Workers Association. It was that body which commissioned Bernard Coard to write his seminal work: How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System, first published in 1971.

Gus was appointed by the Runnymede Trust in 1969 to conduct action-research on youth and race in Handsworth, Birmingham and later wrote Race in the Inner City, Runnymede’s first publication, in 1970. In 1971, he moved to Manchester where he was involved in making provision for life-long learning for young people and adults in Central Manchester, notably Moss Side, Whalley Range, Hulme, Rusholme and Longsight, improving the education system and development opportunities for black youths. He led a team of youth workers who campaigned relentlessly against the widespread criminalisation of black young people by the Greater Manchester Police. Through his research and activism in communities in Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester and London, and as a member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, he was able to join others in providing incontrovertible evidence to the UK government about the extent of racial discrimination in employment, housing and in the provision of goods and services, resulting in the passing of the Race Relations Act 1968 and the creation of the Race Relations Board. In 1989, Gus became the first black director of education in the UK on appointment by the London Borough of Hackney.

With three others, he founded the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN) in 1999, of which he is now chair. CEN provides advocacy and representation for excluded school students and their parents. Gus is chair of INOSAAR, the International Network of Scholars and Activists for African Reparations.

He is an internationally renowned public intellectual and motivational speaker with a passion for enabling ordinary people to believe in, harness and use their collective power to resist oppression and bring about change.

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