R.I.P Darcus Howe

Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:31
R.I.P Darcus Howe

Darcus Howe (26 February 1943 – 1 April 2017)
Born Leighton Rhett Radford Howe, the son of an Anglican priest and a teacher from Trinidad Darcus Howe died aged 74 on 1 April 2017, at his home in Streatham, London.
Howe moved to England at the age of 18 intending to study law but soon switched to journalism. At the time of racial tension in the 1960, he became active in the British Black Panther Movement, adopting the name Darcus.
The Mangrove nine - While working on the till at Mangrove restaurant in Notting hill, a hub for black people, serving as what Howe called the "headquarters of radical chic" Howe witnessed frequent police raids which led to him and over 150 other demonstrators marching to the local police station in protest. The protest turned violent, Howe and 8 others “The Mangrove nine” were arrested for riot, affray and assault.
He and four of his co-defendants were acquitted after a 55-day trial in 1971 at the Old Bailey, leading to the first judicial acknowledgment that there was “evidence of racial hatred on both sides”.
The Race Today Collective - Howe went on to establish the Race Today Collective, an organization whose members included the renowned poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. The collective was on hand to support the female Asian workers when they went on strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratories as well as supporting the Bengali Housing Action Group to set up squatting in vacant properties in Tower Hamlets which in time, resulted in an entire community securing decent housing.
The New Cross Fire - Another campaign of note was the one that followed the death of 13 black young people from a suspected racist attack in south-east London which had been met with indifference by the mainstream press and the police.
The Rivonia Trial - Darcus Howe was evidently a man who stood for social fairness, equality and justice. 7 years before the “Mangrove nine” a group of 10 men at the “Rivonia trial” in Johannesburg who stood up for similar ideals were found guilty and incarcerated and one of those men was Nelson Mandela.
It is thus befitting that the Mandela Centre in Leeds was officially opened by Darcus Howe on Saturday 9th June 1984 in honour of Nelson Mandela.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” – (Nelson Mandela – Rivonia Trial 20 April 1964)