Year 2017 was ROTA’s 20th anniversary year and to celebrate we held a special Anniversary event at the House of Lords on 30th November 2017.

Race on the Agenda (ROTA) is a social policy think tank set up in 1997, devoted to issues that affect Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in London.

Race on the Agenda (ROTA) was originally established in 1984 as Greater London Action for Racial Equality (GLARE) as a membership organisation. Our functions were to provide infrastructure support to London’s Race Equality Councils (RECs) and work closely with the Commission for Race Equality (CRE) to ensure that the Race Relations Act 1976 and the principles underlying it were implemented in public authorities and beyond.

In 1997 we widened our remit in response to increasing demand for our services beyond our existing beneficiary groups. As a result we rebranded and changed our name to ROTA and reached out to communities from London’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups who identified gaps in policy development, voice, advice and representation.

We are committed to working towards achieving social justice and the elimination of discrimination and promoting diversity, equality of opportunity and best practice.

Despite it being the coldest night of the year and a huge queue for entry, we had well over 100 guests attend our 20th Anniversary event at the Terrace Pavilion in the House of Lords.

ROTA’s patron Lord Victor Adebowale gave a key note speech setting out the context for race equality over the last 20 years – from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry to Grenfell Tower. He set out some of the areas where positive change has happened around race equality but also the areas where we are in danger of going backwards such as stop and search and rates of incarceration for young black men. He urged us all to help make the change where we are rather than leaving it to politicians whose commitment can sometimes be questioned.

Dinah Cox OBE talked about her time at ROTA as both a Policy Officer and then CEO, and stressed that ROTA has always sought to be an open and participatory organisation where volunteers and staff are encouraged to develop themselves and focus on the issues that they care about in terms of race and race equality.

Karima Shah then recited two very moving poems about her own experiences of fighting racism and Islamophobia and then Ali Ahmed (ROTA’s chair) and Andy Gregg (ROTA’s CEO) rounded off the proceeding and welcomed guests to a lively networking session.