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
SEVENTY YEARS OF THE BLACK JACOBINS
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.
11.30-12.30 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”
11.30-12.30 PANEL TWO: THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION
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”
1.30-2.30 PANEL THREE: REPRESENTING TOUSSAINT
Gregory Pierrot, “‘Our Hero’: The literarization of Toussaint Louverture in
Charles Forsdick and Rachel Douglas, “Rewriting the Revolutionary:
C.L.R. James’s representations of Toussaint Louverture”
1.30-2.30 PANEL FOUR: RETHINKING THE BLACK JACOBINS
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”
2.45-4.00 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
Weyman Bennett, Joint Secretary of Unite Against Fascism.