Darcus Howe...prominent civil rights campaigner in UK


DARCUS Howe, the veteran black civil rights campaigner in the UK, for more than 50 years, died over the week end in London, according to his biographer, Robin Bunce.

Bunce told the press that Howe had “died peacefully in his sleep” at his Streatham home on Saturday.

Howe was a prominent member of the British Black Panthers movement in the early 1970’s, and is noted for challenging racism in the police force during the Mangrove Nine trial at London’s Old Bailey court.

A renowned writer and broadcaster, Howe campaigned for black rights for more than 50 years and was instrumental in organising the 1981 Black People’s March after the New Cross fire in which 13 black teenagers died.

Howe, who was also a broadcaster, started his journalism career with the magazine, Race Today, where he was editor for 11 years. He also freelanced widely and wrote about his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2009.

Born in Trinidad on 26 February 1943, Howe came to the UK in 1961. He lived in Brixton for more than 30 years, and throughout the 1980s he presented shows for the BBC, London Weekend Television and Channel 4.

In 2003 Howe wrote and presented the controversial series, White Tribe, which explored the idea of Englishness.

In an interview with the BBC, Bunce said Howe was “an outstanding black activist” and a “powerful voice for black rights in Britain”.

“He took on the Metropolitan Police, the Home Office and Special Branch in a 55-day trial as one of the Mangrove Nine,” Bunce said. “Taking on the police in the 70s at a time of enormous police racism and police corruption was an incredibly courageous thing to do. He was able to turn the table on his accusers and he was able to win his case.”

Furthermore, Bunce said: “And not only was Howe able to win his own freedom, but he was also able to expose police racism and force the first official acknowledgement of institutional racism in the United Kingdom as a result of that case.”