Darcus Howe 1943-2017: no home but the struggle

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2017 by kmflett

Darcus Howe 1943-2017: no home but the struggle

Darcus Howe who has died at 74 was a political generation above my mine on the left, so while I knew him I didn’t know him well.

A couple of moments remain with me. The first is described by the late Paul Foot at a memorial meeting for the socialist activist and author David Widgery held at the LSE in December 1992.

Darcus Howe described the racist society Britain had been in the 1950s and 1960s and what the impact the fight against the National Front had been in changing that. As often the fight has to be won again today against a resurgent racism and Darcus Howe’s life has many pointers about how this should be done.

The second moment was at London Socialist Historians event I organised at the Institute of Historical Research in February 2008. It marked the 70th anniversary of the publication of CLR James classic history, the Black Jacobins. Darcus Howe spoke in the final session, underlining the link between history and the fight for liberation today.

We’ll be the poorer for his passing but his life’s work and activism will inspire a continued fight for a better and more equal world


In a brilliant and moving tribute to David (Widgery) at the SWP’s memorial meeting in December, Darcus Howe said he had fathered five children in Britain. The first four had grown up angry, fighting forever against the racism all round them. The fifth child, he said, had grown up ‘black in ease’. Darcus attributed her ‘space’ to the Anti-Nazi League in general and to David Widgery in particular. It is difficult to imagine a more marvellous epitaph. Paul Foot New Left Review 1/196 December 1992



A one-day conference to mark the seventieth anniversary of the publication

of C.L.R. James’s classic history of the Haitian Revolution. With keynote

speakers Darcus Howe, Selma  James, Bill Schwarz, Marika Sherwood and Weyman


Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London.

Saturday 2 February 2008, 10am – 4.30pm.


10.00-11.15 Welcome and Keynote addresses:

Chair: Christian Hogsbjerg, London Socialist Historians Group.

Selma James, writer and activist.

Bill Schwarz, editor of West Indian intellectuals in Britain.

11.15-11.30 Coffee

11.30-12.30 PANEL ONE: C.L.R. JAMES

Paget Henry, “The Black Jacobins and C.L.R. James’s Theory of State


Aldon Lynn Nielson, “‘The Wings of Atlanta’: C.L.R. James and Black Jacobins

at the Institute of the Black World”


Olukoya Ogen, “The Haitian Revolution, 1791-1805: A Yoruba Cultural Legacy”

Jennifer Brittan, “Patrimony in Translation: The Rerouting of Haitian

History in the Circum-Caribbean”

12.30-1.30 Lunch


Gregory Pierrot, “‘Our Hero’: The literarization of Toussaint Louverture in

British representations”

Charles Forsdick and Rachel Douglas, “Rewriting the Revolutionary:

C.L.R. James’s representations of Toussaint Louverture”


Nick Nesbitt, “On the Concept of Black Jacobinism: James and the Struggle


Hegemony in St. Domingue”

Matthew Quest, “On ‘Both Sides’ of the Haitian Revolution? Rethinking Direct

Democracy and National Liberation in C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins”

2.30-2.45 Coffee

2.45-4.00 Closing Plenary:

Chair: David Renton, author of C.L.R. James: Cricket’s Philosopher King.

Darcus Howe, columnist and activist.

Marika Sherwood, author of After Abolition; Britain and the Slave Trade

Since 1807.

Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of Unite Against Fascism.



3 Responses to “Darcus Howe 1943-2017: no home but the struggle”

  1. Did anybody record Howe’s speech at the Widgery Memorial? I can’t find it on google. If anyone has it, it could be transcribed and/or put on Youtube. It would be a historical document of some value.

  2. Its referenced by Paul Foot in NLR 1/196 as above. Nowadays it’d probably be livestreamed but 1992 was a different world technologically speaking

    • I know that. But as you may recall one of the features of the 80s and 90s was that at meetings (notably at Marxism) people would put their own recorders on the table near the speaker and make their own recordings. I’m just wondering if anyone did this at the Widgery meeting and if the recording survives.

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