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  • Writer's pictureNatasha at Jacari

Jacari at 65

We are excited to be celebrating our 65th anniversary in 2021! Since the 1950s, thousands of students have been actively involved with Jacari, campaigning for equal opportunities and empowering children to speak English with confidence. We are going to delve into our fascinating history and give you an insight into Jacari through the ages.

Political activism in the 50s and 60s

Jacari was founded in 1956 as a student society tackling racial discrimination called the “Joint Action Committee Against Racial Intolerance” (usually referred to as JACARI). During the 1950s and 60s, Jacari was a political organisation hosting discussion groups, debates and events focusing on racial discrimination in countries like South Africa and the USA, as well as social inequalities in the UK. These events often attracted high-profile speakers such as future Prime Minister James Callaghan, philosopher AJ "Freddie" Ayer and even Malcolm X who spoke at the Oxford Union in 1964.

Jacari also fundraised for scholarships for black students from South Africa to study at Oxford. The “William Brogden Memorial Scholarship” was set up to commemorate Bill Brogden, one of the founding members of Jacari who sadly died in 1957. After extensive fundraising by Jacari members, the first scholar arrived in 1959.

Jacari members were involved in various anti-apartheid campaigns, boycotts and petitions. However Jacari was also actively involved in anti-racism initiatives closer to home, including organising a survey which found two thirds of University approved landladies in Oxford wouldn’t accept non-white students. This resulted in a petition to the University signed by 2000 people.

The birth of our tutoring programme

Jacari’s first involvement in tutoring immigrant children was in 1965 and this became a core part of its activities - by 1969 over 100 Jacari members were involved. Gradually the teaching programme became Jacari’s main focus, moving away from political activism. Oxford Brookes students also volunteered as tutors, although we don't know exactly when this partnership began! During the 1980s, Jacari volunteers also started organising kids’ events and trips and members continued to meet to discuss and exchange ideas.

From student society to charity

Jacari registered as a charity in 2004, a significant moment in our history as it gave us a board of trustees, helping provide long-term stability. In 2008, Jacari also recruited its first salaried Coordinator to run the teaching programme, Mona Sakr. In 2016 we also expanded our teaching programme to Bristol, recruiting volunteers from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.

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