L8 Activism!

In the 80s the people of L8 were tireless in their support of the anti-apartheid struggle. The Museum of Liverpool will host a new display highlighting the history of the community’s role in the anti-apartheid movement, and the fight to free Nelson Mandela.

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Liverpool has a long history of supporting the struggle against apartheid South Africa, most notably through the city’s student and trade union movement. By 1960, Liverpool City Council had announced a boycott of South African goods, followed by student protest campaigns and Liverpool dock-workers refusing to handle South African goods. At the height of the global outcry against the injustices of apartheid, Nelson Mandela became the iconic figure of the South Africa struggle.

What is less well known is the strong connection between Nelson Mandela and the Black community of Toxteth, Liverpool 8, where he remains an important role model. In the 80s the people of L8 were tireless in their support of the anti-apartheid struggle. Coming soon, the Museum of Liverpool will host a new display highlighting the history of the community’s role in the anti-apartheid movement, and the fight to free Nelson Mandela.

Poster from display
Courtesy of Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives


The display will contain objects such as campaign posters and badges, along with images of L8 community demonstrations and marches, such as the 1988 demonstration in support of the Sharpeville Six and the Mandela Freedom Festival, as well as the voices of local community activists.

Sharpeville Demonstration
Sharpeville Demonstrations © L8 Law Centre, courtesy of Liverpool Central Library and Archives
Sharpeville Demonstration
Sharpeville Demonstrations © L8 Law Centre, courtesy of Liverpool Central Library and Archives


The display will also highlight the inspirational work of Mandela8, our community partners for this display. Mandela8 is a local community organisation which is working to establish a permanent memorial celebrating the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela in Toxteth’s Princes Park. The work of Mandela8 reinforces the community links with the Mandela family and the continued impact of Nelson Mandela’s achievements, today and for future generations.

Mandela Freedom Festival
Mandela Freedom Festival 
Mandela Freedom Festival
Mandela Freedom Festival 
Mandela Freedom Festival
Mandela Freedom Festival 


Mandela’s impact on Liverpool 8 has also been recognised in the recent completion of improvements to the boulevard on Princes Avenue. As well as information marking the long history of local activism within the L8 community, the improvements include famous quotes by Nelson Mandela inscribed into its stonework. One such quote reads; “When people are determined they can overcome everything”.

Princes Avenue
Princes Avenue
Princes Avenue
Princes Avenue


The people of Liverpool 8 have come together on numerous occasions to battle local injustices as well as expressing support and solidarity against injustices around the world such as the anti-apartheid movement. The recent and ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, have shown that the spirit of determination to overcome is still at the heart of this historically diverse and vibrant community. The Museum of Liverpool’s new display will form part of the museum’s continuing work to recognise and celebrate, the important contributions as well as the history and contemporary life of Liverpool 8 and its impact on the city.