Darcus Howe at BCA to celebrate British black radicalism

Last weekend the famous broadcaster and campaigner Darcus Howe was at the Black Cultural Archives to speak about race relations in Britain past and present. One of his biographers, Robin Bunce, was there and reports back for the Blog.

Darcus Howe (right) with Linton Kwesi Johnson
Darcus Howe (right) with Linton Kwesi Johnson

Saturday 30 May witnessed a celebration of the recent history of black radicalism in Britain. Over 140 people packed Committee Room 8 at the Town Hall in the heart of Brixton to hear Darcus Howe speak about the black struggle in Britain.

Entitled ‘Darcus Howe, Race Today and Black Power in Britain’ the event was organised in conjunction with the Black Cultural Archives and the help of London Black Revolutionaries to coincide with the paperback publication of Howe’s political biography written by Paul Field and I, published by Bloomsbury.

The event, which was chaired by the Oxford PhD student and campaigner Adam Cooper, began with a screening of Horace Ove‘s 1973 documentary detailing the trial of the Mangrove Nine. In the film Howe, who defended himself from the dock for the duration of the ground breaking trial, describes how he dispensed with lawyers in order to put his case directly to the jury.

Photo by @bcaheritage
Photo by @bcaheritage

In the round table discussion which followed Howe’s biographers drew out some of the key features of Britain’s early black power movement and Howe’s role in helping to shape the struggle for black rights in Britain.

Leila Hasan then described her work with Howe in the Race Today Collective. She discussed supporting the industrial struggles of Asian workers, organising community defence against racist attacks, helping to organise the largest squat in Europe, and the continual struggle against institutional racism within the police.

Howe turned his attention to more recent events, specifically the killing of black people by the police in Britain and the US, which has reached epidemic proportions. Howe linked this with the disregard for the lives of African refugees trying to enter Europe. The event ended on the upbeat. Linton Kwesi Johnson, Howe’s comrade from the Race Today Collective, performed a piece of impromptu dub poetry.

The Black Cultural Archives holds almost the entire collection of Race Today newspapers from 1969-1988 which is part of the Runnymede Trust collection.  They are a race relations think tank that started in 1968.   Black Cultural Archives holds their collection of press cuttings, research files, periodicals and library from 1968  up to and including 2014.  All materials are accessible to the public, for more information visit www.bcaheritage.org.uk

Darcus Howe’s autobiography is on sale now at Black Cultural Archives Shop, open Tuesday- Saturday, 10.00am – 6.00pm.