Guyanese architect and cultural activist Oscar Abrams came to London in 1958. He became chairman of the Islington branch of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD) fighting for better housing and access to education for those newly arrived from the Caribbean.
In 1971 Abrams bought a building in Gifford Street, Islington, and set up the Keskidee Theatre Workshop to nurture talent and give Black youth a space of their own. For many years, Keskidee was the only dedicated space in London for Black actors, dramatists and technicians.
Keskidee was the first Black arts centre in Britain and had an international impact promoting emerging artists from Africa and the Caribbean. It became known across the world, leading to theatre tours of Europe and the 1979 Keskidee Aroha tour of New Zealand.
In 1978 Bob Marley filmed the video for Is this Love? at the centre, which also starred a young Naomi Campbell.
In the 1970s the dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson worked at Keskidee Arts Centre as library and education officer. He staged his poem Voices of the Living and the Dead there.