Started in 1967 as a community education centre, the cottage supplied day-care and a nursery playground, legal advice, a printing workshop and a social centre. The founders of the centre had partly come together to protest police brutality, although its membership broadened beyond West Indians to include local university students. Amongst its successful events were dance nights and a free university. The centre was visited by the select parliamentary committee on race relations. Its political radicalism was expressed not only in the cottage being named after leading Trinidadian socialist intellectual C.L.R. James but also in the posters on the trees outside reading “Free Angela Davis” who had been arrested as part of the repression of the Black Panther Party in California during the early 1970s.
Given James’s own links to Manchester – from his work alongside Neville Cardus as a cricket journalist for the Manchester Guardian from 1933-35 to his Pan-Africanist activism in the 1930s alongside figures such as George Padmore, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Chris Braithwaite and Jomo Kenyatta which helped lead to the Fifth Pan-African Congress being held in Manchester in October 1945, to his return to work for the Manchester Guardian as a cricket writer in the post-war period for a year or so – it is only right that this centre named after him in 1967 is saved and brought back to life to serve the needs of the local community in a manner in keeping with James’s radical and revolutionary spirit. To paraphrase Scott McLemee, having C.L.R. James’s name on any building is an honour – to the building. Save the Nello James Centre!