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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in three series.
The Darcus Howe Papers include correspondence, writings, interview transcripts, court reports and transcripts, printed material, audio and video tapes regarding Howe and his work as an activist and a journalist. The small amount of material here related to C L R James consists primarily of tributes, events and photographs honoring or memorializing James.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Darcus Howe Papers; Date (if known); Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Related Material at Columbia
C.L.R. James Papers Rare Book & Manuscript Library
C.L.R. James Institute Records, 1938-2002, 1939-2004 Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Anna Grimshaw Papers Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Constance Webb Papers Rare Book & Manuscript Library
No additional materialexpected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Alix Ross 2011.
Finding aid written Alix Ross 03/--/2011.
2011-08-30 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2020-10-13 Series III. box list created with enhanced description. cml
History / Biographical Note
Activist, print and television journalist, and Trinidadian native Darcus Howe has resided in London for most of his adult life. Howe, christened Leighton Rhett Radford, was born in Moruga, of Southern Trinidad, on February 26, 1943, one of five siblings. His parents, Cipriani Nathaniel Howe, an Anglican Priest, and Lucille Howe, both taught at the Eckles Village Anglican School, which Howe attended during his primary school years. In 1955 Howe received an "exhibition" or full scholarship to Queen's Royal College, in Port of Spain, one of the oldest secondary schools in Trinidad. He graduated from QRC in 1959 and began work with the Post Office. In 1962, at the age of 19, Howe left for Britain.
In London Howe worked first, as he had in Trinidad, in the Post Office. He also studied law at London's Middle Temple but abandoned the classroom, before completing his degree, for a career in journalism and in activism. Although never called to the English bar, Howe's legal studies paid off handsomely in his many subsequent arrests, trials and brushes with the law. Upon leaving Middle Temple Howe returned briefly to Trinidad where he edited Vanguard, the journal of the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union. By 1970, Howe had returned to London permanently and in 1988 he became a British citizen.
During the early 1970s Howe was active in Britain's Black Panther Movement, but by 1972 his energies were directed to the work of the Race Today Collective. He edited the Collective's publication, Race Today with Leila Hassan. Members and affiliates of the Collective, which reflected both the geographic breadth of Britain's former colonial reach and the depth of diversity then in London included: Indian-born British writer Farukh Dhondy; Zanzibarian co-editor of Race Today Leila Hassan; Jamaican dub—or reggae—poet Linton Kwesi Johnson; Gernada native, and the first black education director for the London borough of Hackney—or for any borough, Gus John; as well as Howe. Over the years the Collective expanded its editorial operation, publishing pamphlets and books, along with Race Today, and co-sponsoring the International Book Fair of Radical, Black and Third World Books.
Notting Hill's Mangrove Cafe, established in 1968 by Frank Critchlow, served as something of a community center, a home base for West Indian political radicals and as a lightening rod for the London police who raided the cafe with some regularity. After one too many raids, demonstrators marched on the Notting Hill Police Station in August of 1970 protesting "police attacks on black people's home and the places [they] frequent." Howe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Frank Critchlow, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Inniss, Rothwell Kentish, Althea Lecointe and Godfrey Millette—the Mangrove 9—were arrested during the demonstartion and charged with "riot and affray," among other charges. Howe and Lecointe chose to defend themselves. It was not Howe's first arrest and it would not be his last trial, but it was his first attempt to defend himself in court. Following a 55 days-long trial in Old Bailey, Howe was aquitted on all counts.
Howe's journalism ventures expanded into television in the 1980s. From 1985 to 1991, Howe, and Tariq Ali, co-produced documentaries and interviewed prominent political figures around the globe for the Bandung File, which aired on Britain's Channel Four Television. The Devil's Advocate, with Howe as a host, followed the demise of the Bandung File. Later documentaries by Howe included White Tribe, Who You Calling a Nigger?, Son of Mine, and in 2009 What's Killing Darcus Howe?, an attempt to raise awareness, particularly among black men, of prostate cancer.
In print Howe contributed regularly to The Guardian, The Times, The Yorkshire Post and The New Statesman; by the 1990s Howe wrote a weekly column, "Thinking Aloud" for The Sunday Mirror.
Howe is a first cousin, once removed, of C L R James. Their common ancestor, Joshua Rudder, was Howe's great-grandfather, and James' grandfather. Rudder's children included sisters Florrie—Howe's maternal grandmother—and Bessie—James' mother—thereby rendering Lucille (Darcus's mother) and James first cousins. In the 1980s and until his death in 1989, CLR James lived in the rooms of the Race Today Collective.
Howe has seven children. In 1989 Howe and his long-time lover, Leila Hassan, were married. Howe was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, but is currently in remission.