James gets unique honour
Tribute has been paid in London to Caribbean
intellectual and political activist, the late CLR
James was honoured with a blue plaque, which was
placed on the house in Brixton where he spent the last years of his life.
Blue plaques are blue ceramic discs mounted on the fašades of buildings throughout London and parts of the United Kingdom.
The plaques mark the houses in which great men and women have lived or where they have performed or created important works.
The plaque honouring James was also the first plaque for a building in Brixton, an area in South London which is known for its large West Indian community.
"I would describe him as one of the best black
intellectuals, one of the greatest Caribbean writers and somebody who is a legend in the Caribbean community and a legend for this community here in Brixton," said UK government Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.
Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Trinidad in
January 1901 and moved to England from Trinidad in 1932 to become a novelist.
He lived in Lancashire with the great West Indian
cricketer Learie Constantine and while there he became a cricket correspondent with the Manchester Guardian.
In the UK, he also developed his growing interest in Marxism and his work for West Indian independence.
By 1938 he wrote 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 where 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 to which he remained true to until his death in 1989.
In 1963, he published Beyond A Boundary, regarded as one of the best written books about cricket.
Writer Anna Grimshaw said of Beyond a Boundary: "It broke the existing categories which fragmented the aesthetic experience. Its originality as a study of the game of cricket - and yet Beyond A Boundary was neither a cricket book nor an autobiography - symbolised a new and expanded conception of humanity as the black and formerly colonial peoples burst onto the stage of world history."
Journalist and political activist Darcus Howe, a
Trinidadian who came to the UK in the 1960s, told the BBC how James managed to spend his last years in Britain.
"After the Brixton Riots in 1981, he was invited to give a lecture and he saw the kind of buzz around and he said, 'can I stay?' and I said 'sure'. And he came back from Trinidad and he stayed up here," Howe explained.
"He made everybody feel they were important because he believed everybody was important, whatever class, whatever the level of education, that you were a part of this society and you have something to contribute."
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