It was a pleasure to welcome Renaldo La Rose to Stroud Green Labour's monthly meeting on Wednesday 4 October to speak about New Beacon Books. Renaldo is the grandson of John La Rose, who founded New Beacon Books with his partner Sarah White in 1966. Renaldo spoke to Labour Party members about the history of the bookshop and also its bright future following a recent refurbishment.
John La Rose emigrated from the Caribbean in the early 60s, where he had first been politicized by the anti-colonial struggle. After first setting up New Beacon Books in their front room on Albert Road, John and Sarah relocated to 76 Stroud Green Road in the early 1970s where the bookshop still stands today.
As well as being a bookshop, it was also a base for political activity including the Caribbean Artists Movement, the Black Parents Movement and Black Youth Movement, which all organized from the shop in Stroud Green Road. The Black Parents Movement was set up in response to an incident outside the old Stationers School (now Stationers Park), where a black student was beaten up by a policeman. John La Rose also set up the first Black Supplementary School, which operated from his house on Albert Road.
Renaldo recalled some of the political activity which grew out of the bookshop in his youth, including protests against Apartheid outside Tesco on Stroud Green Road.
Earlier this year, New Beacon Books undertook a substantial refurbishment in store and modernisation online with a new website and Twitter account. You can find out more here:
It was exciting to hear that New Beacon Books clearly has a future, having been such an important part of Stroud Green's history for over 50 years. We would encourage all local residents - and indeed people from across London - to pay the bookshop a visit soon, and check out its unique collection of Caribbean, Black British, African and African American literature.