Sunday, 19 September 2010

CLR James Library: campaigners launch petition to save the name

Hackney Gazette recently reported the start of a campaign to preserve the name of a local library. There aren't many public libraries named in honour of socialist historians, but Dalston's CLR James Library is just that. Now the council wants to re-name it Dalston Library and Archives which, well, doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Sign the petition HERE (it takes 30 seconds) and spread the word!

The paper reported:

'ANGRY campaigners are calling on the council not to discount the cultural contribution of Hackney’s African and Caribbean residents by ditching the name of a popular Dalston library.

More than 100 protesters have signed a petition to demand that the new library being built as part of the Dalston Square development to replace the CLR James Library in Dalston Lane retains the name. Members of the borough’s Black & Ethnic Minority Arts network (BEMA) and House of Arts & Music Production Services (H-AMPS) took action after discovering that the library’s current name was set to be dropped.

Town hall bosses called the library after the Afro-Trinidadian historian, cricket journalist and theorist Cyril Lionel Robert James in 1985. They now want to call it Dalston Library and Archives when it reopens next spring.

“I think the council, at the time the library was named, was making a statement and commitment regarding the literary contribution of African Caribbean people worldwide,” said Ngoma Bishop, chairman of BEMA.

“Given the high percentage of African and Caribbean people in Hackney, I feel that taking a decision to drop the name is making an equally strong statement in the opposite direction. It’s one step short of being an insult to the community.”

CLR James gained acclaim for The Black Jacobins, his 1938 book about the 1791-1804 Haitian revolution, and his 1963 autobiographical book, Beyond A Boundary. He attended the library’s naming ceremony. He died in May, 1989.

“This is not just about his contribution as a black individual,” said Andrea Enisuoh, of social justice group Hackney Unites.

“He was a campaigner and a thinker and we want to keep his legacy alive. It is known internationally that there is a CLR library in Hackney and that is something we should be proud of.

“It’s about what sort of Hackney we want to see in the future. Now that Hackney and Dalston are developed, do we no longer want to support these people?”'

See HERE for the writings of CLR James.


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