Pan African Congress in Manchester, 1945
On the 15 -20 October 1945, the Pan African Congress took place in Manchester . This was the fifth Pan African Congress to take place since 1900.
The 1945 Congress was the most significant politically, coming as it did just months after the end of the Second World War. The war had been fought in the name of freedom, yet around the globe hundreds of millions of people lived in colonies run by Britain, France, Holland and other European powers. The Congress brought together a number of important political activists including Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah, who went onto lead anti-colonial struggles in Kenya and Ghana.
Also in attendance were a number of black activists living in Manchester including Len Johnson, the former boxer and member of the CPGB; Dr Peter Milliard from Guyana, who had formed the Negro Association; Ras Makonnen of the International African Service Bureau, which was established by CLR James in 1937 and James Taylor, who ran the Negro Welfare Centre. In 1944 Milliard and Makonnen had called a meeting in Manchester of all black organisations and set up the Pan-African Federation.
The Congress was originally scheduled to take place in Paris in September to coincide with a meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions but it was switched in August to Manchester because of travel problems.
The Congress was held in Chorlton-upon-Medlock Town Hall with 87 delegates representing 50 organisations. Topics debated included "The Colour Problem in Britain", "Oppression in South Africa" and "The Problems in the Caribbean".
Sources about the Pan African Congress, 1945 in our collection
The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress revisited by Hakim Adi and Marika Sherwood (1995) (includes a reprint of the report on the Congress)
Len Johnson by Michael Herbert (1992)
Manchester and the 1945 Pan African Congress by Marika Sherwood (1995)
Len Johnson collection
Pan African Congress collection