Basil Lewis OBE: Haringey’s first Black councillor and race relations’ ‘trailblazer’ dies aged 92

Basil Lewis OBE represented Stroud Green (1968-78) and Crouch End (1978-82). Picture: Haringey Counc

Basil Lewis OBE represented Stroud Green (1968-78) and Crouch End (1978-82). Picture: Haringey Council - Credit: Archant

Haringey’s first Black councillor and a “trailblazer” for race relations has died aged 92.

Basil helped create Haringey Council’s race equalities committee. Picture: Haringey Council

Basil helped create Haringey Councils race equalities committee. Picture: Haringey Council - Credit: Archant

Basil Lewis OBE, thought to be one of the first Black councillors in the UK, served Haringey for 14 years.

A Conservative, Basil represented Stroud Green (1968-78) and then Crouch End (1978-82), and he was appointed OBE by the Queen for his political work helping boost electoral participation in the Black community.

Having settled in Haringey from Clarendon, Jamaica in 1954, Basil was a founding member of the council’s race equalities committee and he helped establish the Anglo-West Indian Conservative Society in 1979.

Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor said: “Basil was widely respected and a longstanding pillar of Haringey’s Black Community. He was also a family friend.

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“Basil Lewis was a political pioneer, a dedicated public servant, a community leader, a businessman and a proud family man who always sought to bring people together and help new migrants integrate.

“He will be fondly remembered. I would like to send my sincerest condolences, personally, and on behalf of the people of Haringey to his loved ones, family and friends.”

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Basil’s former Haringey Council colleague Brian Salinger (Alexandra, 1982-86) paid tribute to his friend who he spoke to only a week before he died.

Brian said: “Basil was a trailblazer in the early days for race relations and for promoting good relationships between different communities right across the borough.

“He was devoted to serving his communities in Stroud Green and Crouch End and he was one of the community leaders who built the church back in the 1960s.

“His faith was a large part of his life and he had a great sense of humour too.

“He was a lovely man.”

Aside from his political work, Basil ran a travel agency, Sunshine Travel, which arranged holidays to and from the West Indies.

He lived in Crouch End and was a member of the Union Church.

Hornsey and Wood Green Conservatives association president Peter Forrest said: “Basil was a hard-working man and a well-respected respected councillor and he was a role model not only within the Conservative Party but within the wider community.

“I think he should be remembered as a real trailblazer, both as a Black councillor but also in encouraging people who had perhaps not committed to the UK electoral system to really get involved, play a part and make a difference.”

Basil is survived by his three sons.

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