Darcus Howe, Race Today and Black Power in Britain
DATE: Saturday 30 May, 1.00 - 4.00pm
VENUE: Room 8, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW, (after at Black Cultural Archives)
TICKETS: £7 and available from Black Cultural Archives
The fight for social justice is never far away, and we can look to the living past and its history to inform how we organise today.
This tribute to Black activism welcomes Darcus Howe, broadcaster, former British Black Panther and ex editor of Race Today and Leila Hassan, former member of Black Unity and Freedom Party and ex editor of Race Today.
Joining them will be Paul Field and Robin Bunce co-authors of Darcus Howe: A Political Biography, and Arnie Hill of London Black Revolutionaries. Adam Elliott-Cooper will chair the discussion.
The event includes a book signing of Darcus Howe: A Political Biography (Bloomsbury Publishing), and a screening of Franco Rosso's 1973 documentary Mangrove Nine.
A social gathering, and a viewing of the exhibition Staying Power: Photography of the Black Experience 1950s - 1990s will also take place across the road at Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2 1EF.
Acknowledgements: Black Cultural Archives and Paul Fields wish to thank Darcus Howe, Leila Hassan, Arnie Hill and the London Black Revolutionaries, Robin Bunce, and Bloomsbury Publishing for their contributions to this event.
Darcus Howe and his comrades, were involved in sustained anti-racist organisation in the community and campaigning in the 70's & 80's, a part of the Race Today Collective and the New Cross Massacre Action Committee, Darcus Howe represents a long history of black self-organisation and resistance against racism.
New Cross Massacre:
The New Cross Massacre Action Committee [NCMAC] was formed on 20 Jan 1981 within two days of the alleged firebombing of the home of a West Indian family at 439 New Cross Road, Lewisham, South London. The house fire occurred in the early morning of 18 Jan 1981 during a birthday party for Yvonne Ruddock (aged 16) and Angela Jackson (aged 18). The fire resulted in the deaths of thirteen young black persons, aged 14 to 22. Twenty seven others were seriously injured.
An Inquest into the fire was held in Apr 1981, and again in 2004. No-one to date has been charged in relation to the fire, an open verdict being delivered on both occasions.
Black People's Day of Action:
On 2 Mar 1981 an estimated 15-20,000 black people and their supporters, under the banner of the New Cross Massacre Action Committee, demonstrated through the streets of London in an organised march named 'The Black People's Day of Action'. The march followed a pre-planned route from 439 New Cross Road through the City and Central London to Hyde Park, and lasted for about eight hours.
The demonstration was decided upon at a meeting on 27 Jan 1981, when the important decision was made to march on a Monday rather than at the weekend. This would indicate the serious nature of the march and also maximise the impact on workers. Tactical negotiations with the police secured a route which would attract the attention of journalists by taking the march down Fleet Street. A week day also allowed Parliament to carry through the agreed Early Day Motion.
A delegation of the representatives of the NCMAC and families, headed by John La Rose, made a planned departure from the march to deliver a declaration - 'The Declaration of New Cross' - to 10 Downing Street, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and the Houses of Parliament. Despite a signed agreement with the Metropolitan Police as to the route the march would take, police in riot gear tried to block the march at Blackfriars Bridge. The march stewards recognised this as a planned provocation by the police and avoided the marchers being drawn into a violent clash with the police. Eventually, the truck leading the protestors managed to break through and the march continued as planned.
Today, the Black Community faces a sustained assault from the governments racist austerity plans, social cleansing and gentrification in historically Afro-Caribbean and black communities across London. Radical and Political Black organisation today is once again necessary in the face of real threats to the black community.
With high unemployment among our Black youth, gentrification and evictions, cuts to services and welfare and severe racism within the Metropolitan Police Force and IPCC, and the impunity to kill Black British men and women in the UK.
We gather to look on the living memory of Black organisation and campaigning and connect this with ongoing struggles and campaigns occurring across our communities.
This tribute to Black activism welcomes;
►Darcus Howe, activist, broadcaster, former British Black Panther and ex editor of Race Today.
►Leila Hasan, former member of Black Unity and Freedom Party and ex editor of Race Today.
►Paul Field and Robin Bunce co-authors of Darcus Howe: A Political Biography.
►Arnie Hill of London Black Revolutionaries.
♦The event includes a book signing of Darcus Howe: A Political Biography (Bloomsbury Press) & The Film Screening of The Mangrove Nine.
The Mangrove Nine,1973, directed by Franco Rosso
Mangrove Nine tells the story of conflict between the police and the black community in Notting Hill at the start of the 1970s. The central incident of the Mangrove affair took place when a deputation of 150 black people protested against long-term police harassment of the popular Mangrove Restaurant in Ladbroke Grove.
The protest – policed by 500 police and a plain clothes police photographer – later led to nine arrests and 29 charges. The nine were Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Frank Critchlow, Rhodan Gordon, Darcus Howe, Anthony Innis, Althea Lecointe Jones, Rothwell Kentish, and Godfrey Millett.
The charges ranged from making an affray, incitement to riot, assaulting a policeman, to having an offensive weapon. 22 of the charges against the nine were dismissed including all the serious ones.
Only seven minor counts were found proven. The high profile trial at the Old Bailey lasted for two months finishing in December 1971 with five of the defendants being completely acquitted.
Most strikingly, the case made legal history when it delivered the first judicial acknowledgement of ‘evidence of racial hatred’ in the Metropolitan police force.
The Mangrove Nine film portrays interviews with the defendants recorded before the final verdicts were delivered at the trial, as well as contemporary comments from Ian Macdonald and others.
♦The exhibition Staying Power: Photography of the Black Experience 1950s - 1990s will also be open for viewing on the day.
Organised by Black Cultural Archives and London Black Revs