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   Darcus Howe Papers, 1965-2008.

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Preferred Citation

Darcus Howe Papers; Date (if known); Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


These papers contain correspondence, writings, interview transcripts, court reports and transcripts, printed material, and audio and video tapes regarding the life and work of journalist and activist, Darcus Howe—a British citizen and native of Trinidad. Also in the papers is a small amount of material related to the writer and activist, C L R James.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1476
Bib ID:7089617 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Howe, Darcus
Title:Darcus Howe Papers, 1965-2008.
Physical description:12.5 linear ft. (17 boxes; 9 document boxes, 1 half-sized document box; 7 record storage cartons)
Language(s): Material is in English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in three series:

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Scope and Content

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.

Series I: CLR James, 1974-1996

A small amount of correspondence to and from James is contained here along with a series of lectures, transcribed, that James delivered at an event celebrating his 80th birthday; material related to his death and funeral, including photographs of the funeral and procession; lectures and other items from exhibits, tributes and festivals honoring James; and correspondence and documents—including architectural drawings—regarding the effort to establish a C L R James Foundation/Institute in London.

Series II: Darcus Howe, 1965-2008

This series includes correspondence to and from Howe; writings and interview transcripts; court reports, transcripts of cross examinations and other trial-related material; printed material and photographs related to Darcus Howe's life, work and activism.

Subseries II.1: General, 1965, 1973-2008

Correspondence, address books and an agenda, material related to several funerals, photographs, and a few subject files comprise this small subseries.

Subseries II.2: Activism and Politics, 1969-2002

Found here are court reports, transcripts of cross examinations and other material related to the Mangrove 9 Trial; correspondence and documents regarding the Race Today Collective; and statements, printed material and other items related primarily to the Black Panthers Movement in Britain and the United States invasion of Grenada in 1983.

Subseries II.4: Printed Material, 1970s-1990s

Contained here are journals, bulletins and pamphlets published by the Race Today Collective; and clippings, flyers, announcements and pamphlets from other organizations.

Series III. Audio/ Video--circa 1970s-1990s

This, the largest series of the collection, includes audio and video cassette tapes of interviews with C L R James and others; conferences; Race Today Collective meetings; and Bandung and other television productions.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

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

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 2011 Alix Ross

Finding aid written 03/--/2011 Alix Ross

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion August 30, 2011 Finding aid written in English.
    2011-08-30 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Black Panther Movement.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Channel 4 TV (Great Britain).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Howe, Darcus.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
James, C. L. R. (Cyril Lionel Robert), 1901-1989.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
London (England)--Race relations.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Race Today Collective.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
West Indians--Great Britain.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

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.

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