The Survivors History Group has honoured Philip Morgan (1965 – 2017) who sadly passed away in the Spring of 2017.
Jayasree Kalathil remembers him as a fellow BME mental health survivor, a brother, in this beautiful touching tribute.
Philip Morgan, one of our beloved brothers in the black and minority ethnic mental health user/survivor movement, has passed away. Philip had been with the Tower Hamlets African Caribbean Mental Health Organisation (THACMO) for over 15 years as a volunteer coordinator. He also worked extensively with Social Action for Health, Mellow, Catch-a-fiya and other networks as trainer, campaigner, mentor, community worker.
Philip was larger than life, with a great sense of humour and a veritable performer in public forums. My most abiding memory of him is at the launch of Catch-a-fiya, where his MC-ing style brought a joy to the occasion while never side-lining the political and historical significance of a bunch of mad and minoritised people launching their network in the heart of London, in the Mayor’s office.
As a writer, Philip contributed to several books, including ‘Power Writers and the Struggle against Slavery’, ‘Lifting Barriers: African and Caribbean People Tell Stories of Struggle, Strength and Achieving Mental Health’ and ‘African History at the Tower of London’.
Philip was a historian of our cultures and struggles, especially of the Black history of East London. I guess most people who knew him would have heard him explain eloquently the concept of ‘Sankofa’ – one imagination of which is of a bird with its feet forward while head turned back, symbolising how the critical examination and investigation of the past serves as a guide to the future.
He wrote in ‘Power Writers’: “…real self-consciousness can only be achieved through a better understanding of human and environmental realities. This simple yet honest approach to the way we perceive the world and each other will lead to an infinitely more accurate understanding of knowledge and life that can assist in the selective re-introduction of natural cultures and values more reflective of the human condition.”
Philip was one of the people who welcomed me into the movement when I moved here 14 years ago. I have not had many occasions to meet with him in the last couple of years. I will miss the warm hugs and the half-joking, half-serious question regarding my on-again-off-again attempt to write the history of the black survivor movement: “Have you finished it yet? Where is my copy?” I guess I better get on with it.
Philip ‘Spirit’ Morgan, 1965-2017. Rest in peace, my brother.
For those who might be interested in knowing more about Philip’s work, here is an interview with Will Hall on Madness Radio: http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-black-mental-hea…/
For those interested in supporting Philip’s funeral and a celebration of his life, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/phil-spirit
Andrew Roberts says that the Survivors History Group will endeavour to keep Philip’s legacy.