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Lionel Morrison (1935 – )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Lionel Morrison (1935 – ) Awarded for:
His excellent achievements in journalism and contributing to the ideals of a just and democratic South Africa
Profile of Lionel Morrison

A world-respected journalist and human-rights proponent, Sir Lionel Morrison was born in 1935.

A campaigning journalist, media trainer and social housing activist for some 50 years, Morrison was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to social housing.

Morrison was a lifelong opponent of apartheid. He was an executive member of the Coloured People’s Organisation and was active in the broader congress and labour movement. He was an organiser of domestic and brush and broom workers.

Morrison was imprisoned several times for his activism, including as the youngest detainee in the infamous 1956 Treason Trial that included Nelson Mandela and 155 others.

Morrison worked as a tabloid reporter on South Africa’s first black weekly, the Golden City Post, in 1955 and went on to found the country’s first non-racial media union, the South African Union of Journalists, which he also chaired.

In 1960, after the Sharpeville massacre, Morrison left for exile in Britain.

Abroad, he worked as a reporter and helped set up the non-aligned Afro-Asian Journalists Association in Djakarta and the Pan African Journalists Union in Accra. For a time, he was the representative of the Pan Africanist Congress in Indonesia and China.

Morrison has lived and worked in Britain since 1969. He has written for, sub-edited and edited a wide variety of publications in his time, more often than not with a distinct social commitment profile.

He has contributed, among other things, to the Indonesian Herald, Warta Bhakti in Djakarta, the Afro-Asian Journalist, Ghanaian Evening News and the Zambia Mail. In Britain, he edited the West Indian World and the Asian Herald and wrote for The Sunday People, Evening Standard, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Telegraph.

As an editor and journalism lecturer, Morrison helped establish a number of ethnic minority newspapers and publications. He has also devised journalism training schemes in Africa and journalism and diversity programmes for ethnic minority students at college and university level across Europe. Presently, he is a trustee of the George Viner Trust (which he founded), a trust that provides grants to aspiring journalists.

In 1988, Morrison was elected the first black President of the National Union of Journalists of Britain and Ireland (NUJ) and is now a member of honour. He remains active in the NUJ’s Ethics Committee and Black Members Council, which he helped found.

As a dedicated social activist, Morrison has been active in global issues of justice with Amnesty International. In Britain, he has participated in and chaired various community and race-relations organisations. He was the Principal Information and Public Relations Officer of the Commission for Racial Equality from 1977 to 1990.

Among numerous senior voluntary positions at local community level, Morrison has been involved with the Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association and the Tiverton Community and Youth Centre.

Morrison has been particularly active in social housing, including as chair of one of Britain’s biggest housing associations. He describes homelessness as an evil that “eats at one’s centre”. He is currently Vice President of the Notting Hill Housing Trust, of which he was the chair for a number of years.

Morrison has authored two books, A Century of Black Journalism in Britain and As They See It, a study of race relations. He has authored many articles and essays on racism and the media and has been the overview editor of a number of books.

Morrison presently co-edits a website on issues of diversity and ethical standards for media professionals.