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Human Rights Activist, Author & Social Commentator

Maxie Hayles MBEMBE

Human Rights Activist, Author & Social Commentator

If the 16 year old Maxie Hayles arrived in Birmingham today, he would certainly have a culture shock, but he would find himself in a much better environment for Caribbean people than existed in 1960

Back then, Birmingham was a city of factories and fog, with people eating their chips out of newspapers. There was rampant racism, inequality and routine police harassment. There were no protections: no Race Relations Act, no Equal Opportunities Act. In short, Britain invited Caribbean immigrants to help rebuild it in the post-war era, but made no basic preparations.

I vividly recall seeing ‘No dogs, blacks or Irish’ on the doors of so-called guest houses. Along with our Irish brethren, we had the social status of dogs. There was no right to public housing and the Race Relations Act of 1965 failed to address this.

Although we were invited to help rebuild the country, only menial tasks such as labouring and cleaning was available to black people. We often had line up on a daily basis for factory work. If we did get selected, more racism awaited us on the job. Apprenticeships were not for us; they were strictly the preserve of the local white population. This environment inevitably stifled any upward social and economic mobility, and still exists to a great extent. How many senior politicians, judges etc. in this country are black?

These days there is a lot of debate about disproportionate police use of stop and search powers against young black youths, but this is nothing new. I remember being stopped six times on one night between West Bromwich and Handsworth.

We encountered racism and injustices on a daily basis, and we dealt with it by whatever means necessary. That usually meant moving around in groups – safety in numbers – carrying knives for our own protection because the police wouldn’t protect us.

In spite of this adversity, we remained resilient. We were barred from pubs and clubs, so we created our own entertainment – Blues Parties, Cheveens and so on with old ‘Blue-Spot’ record players.

Black people were unwelcome in mainstream churches, so we created our own. From small beginnings in Pastors’ living rooms, these grew over time to become well established, and well attended black churches.

A landmark event was the visit of Malcolm X to Smethwick in 1965, but this was countered in 1968 by Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham.

The 1970’s was the worst period for black people in this country, many of whom were now second genera

Credit - - May 2018

Taking it to the MaxMAXIE

'Taking it to the Max' - Maxie Hayles' Autobiography

Maxie Hayles' powerful autobiography launched at The House of Commons, London, England (UK) during Britain's Black History Month, is a historical, sociological and political standpoint as he has not minced his words in letting it known that racism cannot be maintained as the status quo.

Taking It To The Max is a riveting, revealing and thought provoking autobiography about Jamaican born Maxie Hayles who has lived in Britain for the past 55 years. He is a Birmingham based human rights activist and community champion who has laid bare, warts-and-all his personal struggles alongside his fight for equality and justice for all human beings locally, nationally and internationally and in particular for black and minority ethnic people.

"What is clearly evident is Maxie is someone who has stood for something, argued for the right to exists as a human being, and has refused to accept any form of subordination. In the telling of his story Maxie has also expressed regrets, been self-critical, as well as openly criticising publicly things he has felt were wrong. In doing so, Maxie is following a tradition of personal narratives, which have emerged from all facets of history related to displaced men and women. Most of all Maxie's story is an important 'legacy project' designed to give an insight into one person's experiences, engagement with, and connection to, a time and space which is seldom documented. In doing so Maxie has provided us with a template for discussion in barber shops, churches, colleges and universities, community spaces and so on. In doing so Taking it to the Max is a welcome addition to a community that at times fears expressing itself for fear of not being heard."

Dr. Martin Glynn Writer, Criminologist and Lecturer at City of Birmingham University

Maxie Hayles is the recipient of numerous awards along with other accomplishments having helped many others who have experienced racism and injustice including being ill-treated at the hands of the police and other law enforcement officers. He is noted for being at the forefront of challenging the Establishment in various ways and is held in high esteem by many who seek his advice on a regular basis. Not many people can vouch for having met the indefatigable Rev. Jesse Jackson of America on five separate occasions as indeed has Maxie Hayles, culminating in Jesse Jackson presenting him with a lifetime achievement award in Birmingham, England in 2008 for outstanding work defending human rights and race equality. He is also the 2000 winner of the Prime Minister's Regional and National Active Community Award 2000 for building a fair and just community.

To order a copy of the book contact Maxie Hayles. E: or T: 07956 141 554S


  • Coaching & Mentoring

    Coaching and mentoring are development approaches based on the use of one-to-one conversations to enhance an individual's skills, knowledge or work performance. It's possible to draw distinctions between coaching and mentoring although in practice the two terms are often used interchangeably

  • Race Equality

    Racial equality is when institutions, such as schools, provide equal opportunities to individuals of all races regardless of their physical traits such as skin colour. Historically, and particularly at educational institutions, attaining equality for ethnic minorities has not been easy.

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    Every day, each of us can stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes. Let’s build a world beyond racism and discrimination, where we all exercise human rights.

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    A brilliant orator, the 63-year-old attracts huge crowds around the country.

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