Cici Washburn reports on the unveiling of a new plaque in Brixton commemorating anti-racist activist Darcus Howe
150 people gathered in the rain on Railton road, Brixton today to remember Darcus Howe with the unveiling of a new blue plaque celebrating the incredible anti-racist activist and broadcaster. The plaque is above the Brixton Advice Centre where the Race Today office was and next to his uncle C.LR. James’s plaque which Darcus Howe unveiled in 2004. This day also celebrates C.L.R. James’s 121st Birthday.
Friends and family of Darcus Howe and all ages of the public listened to speakers including, Dawn Hill CBE, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, Henry Bonsu and others. Leila Hassan Howe, anti-racist activist and Darcus Howe’s wife spoke about how close C.LR. and Darcus were and how Darcus set up Race Today under the political influence and wisdom of C.LR. James.
Although Darcus was hugely successful as a broadcaster and in the media, Leila spoke of how he told her the achievements most important to him were the Mangrove 9 trial and building the Race Today collective. Talking about what Darcus wanted from the Race Today collective Leila said “He wanted working-class people as well as intellectuals to come together in an organisation so that they could learn from each other” and continued speaking about how they were a national organisation campaigning around housing, against the police and supporting strikes.
“It was under Darcus’s leadership that we were able to achieve what we did”, added Leila, reiterating that they were an international organisation. You could walk into the office and meet Walter Rodney and leaders from the anti-apartheid movement.
Leila spoke of how although with the Black Lives Matter Movement, Darcus Howe has become an icon but “For many years Darcus was completely in the wilderness, he was a thorn in the side of the establishment. He wanted no truck with the establishment, and so in many cases people wanted Darcus to just shut up, they didn’t want to hear radical and revolutionary ideas”. Leila spoke of how the special branch and the police were ‘hot’ on Darcus following his every move, even following him to cricket.
Leila ended saying that “He was able to translate the struggles and the concerns of the black community into effective political action” and that Darcus would be delighted to be side by side with his uncle C.L.R James; “two icons not only of black Britain but of Britain and the world - Darcus Howe and C.LR. James.”
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