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History
GREAT LIVES
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SERIES 2
Friday 1 November 2002, 23:02 - 23:30





PROGRAMME 3: Darcus Howe on CLR James

Picture of Trinadadian Marxist, historian and cricket correspondent, CLR James.In the third programme controversial writer activist and broadcaster Darcus Howe takes a look at the long and distinguished career of Marxist, historian and Guardian cricket correspondent CLR James

Born Cyril Lionel Robert James in Trinidad on 4 January 1901. James’s father was a schoolteacher, while his mother was, ". . . a reader, one of the most tireless I have ever met."

The opening of his classic memoir, Beyond A Boundary, reveals the major influences at work on his upbringing: "Our house was superbly situated, exactly behind the wicket. A huge tree on one side and another house on the other limited the view of the ground, but an umpire could have stood at the bedroom window. By standing on a chair a small boy of six could watch practice every afternoon and matches on Saturdays . . . From the chair also he could mount on to the window-sill and so stretch a groping hand for the books on top of the wardrobe. Thus early the pattern of my life was set."

James moved to England from Trinidad in 1932 to become a novellist, living in Lancashire with the great West Indian cricketer Learie Constantine, while here he became cricket correspondent of the Manchester Guardian. This left his winter months free to develop his growing interest in Marxism and to work for West Indian independence. By 1938 he had written his first novel and published The Black Jacobins, his seminal work on the Haitian slave revolt (he had previously produced a play on this subject starring Paul Robeson). The same year he moved to the USA wher he lived until expelled for his 'anti-american activities' in 1953.

A constant advocate of de-colonialisation he returned to Trinidad in the 50's to help the newly formed government but was expelled in the 60's, after a brief spell of imprisonment. However this did not dim his desire to help national liberation movements, a cause he reamined true to until his death in 1989.

Picture of broadcaster and activist Darcus Howe.Darcus Howe is another Trinidadian who came to Britain in the 60's and has remained a political activist ever since. He is a journalist with a regular column in the New Statesman as well being a frequent face the BBC and Channel 4.

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