A history of the 1971 London World Romani Congress
Written and narrated by Grattan Puxon, Romani activist and general-secretary of the 1971 Congress.
Produced and edited by Ioana Constantinescu for the 8 April 2021 Jubilee celebrations organised by the Jubilee London Committee.
Using archive footage and photographs, Grattan takes us through the 60’s in Ireland where he became involved in Traveller issues, to the UK early campaigns against evictions, the setting up of the Gypsy Council and the lead up to the 1971 Congress in London.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month Celebration24th June, 6-8pm
This virtual 2-part event, hosted by Mena Mongan, will be an opportunity to come together to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities through discussion, music and stories.
6pm – 6.50pm – Panel Discussion
The event will begin with a short panel discussion on the impact of the proposed Policing and Crime Bill on the culture and lives of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK.
7pm – 8pm – Celebration
This will be followed by an exciting mix of musical performances and presentations, including..
On 8th April 2021, the World Romani Congress marked 50 years since the 1971 founding event in London. It was a crucial point in the history of Romani people and is now seen as the beginning of the worldwide Romani emancipation movement. It started a political fight for equality,mobilised through Romani organisations, and the unifying flag and anthem.
This year to mark the jubilee anniversary a series of diverse online events have been taking place that offer the opportunity to celebrate Roma history and culture but also critically reflect on the ongoing challenges that are still faced by Romani people worldwide.
Events can be enjoyed via a live stream at www.romanistan.com a virtual place that crosses all continental borders and connects Romani people worldwide. The president of the First World Roma Congress in 1971, Slobodan Berberski, once said: “Every place, there is Roma, there is Romanistan.” This utopia has now become reality!
It is hoped that this year’s online events will spark greater mobilisation. Grattan Puxon, one of the co-organisers of the First World Romani Congress, said: “At a time of rising far-right extremism and anti-gypsyism it is hoped that this anniversary year will bring Romani people and our allies around the world closer together, to create a common purpose, celebrate achievements, and build a stronger collective voice.”
If you weren’t able to attend or wish to reflect on International Roma Day, recordings of the day’s events can be found on Romanistan’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
There is still time to take part and the congress events are open to all. Check Romanistan’s website for updates and information on the next sessions. In addition to the congress events, Romanistan and its partner oranisations have delivered an online World Roma Congress art exhibition.
One of the many positive outcomes of the World Romani Congress Jubilee celebrations is this set of animations, which will be a valuable resource for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month and Holocaust Studies more generally.
They introduce the anthem Gelem, Gelem, the flag and the World Romani Congress itself.