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1945 Pan-African Congress (PAC): Young Roots project

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The videos for this section were produced as a part of the PAC45 Young Roots Project. This project is presented on this website in full at where the videos can also be accessed.

Adding to the previous material, four new videos have now been released for this section – see farther down this page.

Overview of the 1945 Pan African Congress

The fifth Pan-African Congress, held in October 1945, was a major event in the 20th century. Decisions taken at this conference led to the independence of African countries – and it was held in Manchester, in Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall. A red plaque on the All Saints building marks the occasion.

The 1945 Congress is seen as being the most significant politically of the seven which have been held in total, 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 Manchester Congress brought together a number of intellectuals and activists who would go on to become influential leaders in various African independence movements and the American civil rights movement, including the Kenyan independence leader Jomo Kenyatta, American academic W. E. B. Du Bois, and Kwame Nkrumah who became President of independent Ghana.

Also in attendance were a number of black activists living in Manchester including Len Johnson, the former boxer, whose story features in the Library’s hall display.

Why was the Congress held in Manchester? It has been said that Manchester was ‘the least prejudiced city in the UK’, though everything is relative – this was after all an era when Len Johnson had given up boxing because of the “colour bar” he faced. Manchester was also the home of various activists who had good links with the wider black community, and one of whom owned a number of restaurants in the area. Lodgings and catering for the delegates were therefore not a problem – a major factor at a time when most British hotels would not accommodate black people…

Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall was decorated with the flags of the Republics of Haiti, Ethiopia and Liberia, the only three nominally independent black countries in 1945. In these days of instant access to live news, it’s hard to imagine how extraordinary it must have been for the 90 delegates to hear and share for the first time stories of the struggles going on in their different countries.

From 14 to 22 October there was a wide range of debates with many resolutions passed, including one calling for racial discrimination to be made a criminal offence. And the Congress’s ‘Challenge to the Colonial Powers’ makes stirring, even lyrical reading: ‘We are determined to be free. We want education. We want the right to earn a decent living; the right to express our thoughts and emotions, to adopt and create forms of beauty’.

The Congress scarcely got a mention in the British press at the time. But history has shown it to be a crucial occasion which inspired many to action, and gave ‘a voice to the voiceless’.


70th Anniversary of the 1945 Pan-African Congress Conference – Documentary
Presented by Denise Southworth, this documentary looks at Garveyism and the Pan-African Congress Movement. Interviews with Dr. Omar Johnson, Pro. Hakim Adi, Lee Jasper, NaaAquah, Sai Murray and Temi Mwale on the subjects of Climate Change, Race, the Future, Independence, Reparations, the Future and Identity.

Pan-African CongressConference Day 1 – Youth Conference hosted by Jordon Stephen president for the Manchester Metropolitan Students Union and one of the youth conference organisers and by Naa Aquah General Secretary of the Students Union and one of the youth conference organisers. Presentations and discussions on Pan-Africanism and the future, Q/A panel with Dr.Umar Johnson, Kadija George, Geoff Thompson, Pro. Hakim Adi and Rameri Reshkhi Moukam.

Pan-African Congress Conference Day 2 (pt 1) – In this video, Pro. Hakim Adi talked about the Significance of the Pan-African Congress held in Manchester in 1945 – Cecil Gutzmore on Marcus Garvey and Revolutionary Pan-Africanism – Sir Geoff Palmer on The wonders of Science and Technology – Lee Jasper on Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century and the case for Reparations – Viv Ahmun on Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century: Bad Boy Social Action

Pan-African Congress Conference Day 2 (pt 2) – In this video Zita Holbourne talks on the subjects of the Trade Unions, racism and grassroots activism – TemiMwale, Youth at the Forefront – Dr Omar Johnson, Pan-Africanism A Global Affair.

Pan-African Congress Conference Day 3 – In this video Kadija George talks about Women in Pan-Africanism – Sai Murray talks about Climate Change, Justice and Reparations.

Pan-African Congress Conference Day 3 with Akala – Akala talked about many issues very relevant to our contemporary lives and used his own upbringing and mixed ancestry into the subject. Critical perspectives on education, identity, history, representation, white supremacy, right wing white propaganda.

New films now released

Four new videos have now been released for this section. During the commemoration conference for the 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester, this series of films briefly reflect on life then and now – politics, identity, opportunity, solidarity, change, history.

TemiMwale – Temi talks about the challenges she faced growing up in a tough area of London, the day to day violence and how being of mixed parentage, she struggled with racism and the challenge to find her true identity. She talks about her knowledge of Pan-Africanism and what it means to her and what has motivated her to become a youth advocate and motivated speaker.

Sai Murray – Sai is an expert in climate change, he talks about the environmental impact of climate change on Africa and how the West continues to extract its minerals and other resources with very little financial rewards to the indigenous population. He talks about the continued campaigns for reparations to build infrastructure in villages and towns in Africa.

Naa Acquah – Naa was the Chairperson of the Students Union and the coordinator for the Pan-African youth conference. She talks about the importance of knowing your roots and identity while at the same time not to separate yourself from the rest of society.

Dr.Umar Johnson – Dr Johnson talks about the work of the Pan-African Congress Movement and Marcus Garvey. He talks about global racism and the political and economic impact of this against Africans at home and abroad.