Pan African Congress in Manchester 1945

From the Working Class Movement Library, Manchester:

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.

PAC45 Cover

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 Communist Party of Great Britain; 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.

Signatures of delegates to the Congress

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’.


Related Object of the Month

October 2013: 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester

We mark Black History Month with Objects of the Month from the 1945 Pan-African Congress – a delegate ribbon and handbook. 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


Resources about the Pan African Congress, 1945 in our collection


Hakim Adi and Marika Sherwood, The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress revisited (1995) (includes a reprint of the report on the Congress) – Shelfmark: M19

Michael Herbert, Never counted out!: the story of Len Johnson, Manchester’s black boxing hero and communist (1992) – Shelfmark: Q10

Marika Sherwood, Manchester and the 1945 Pan African Congress (1995) – Shelfmark: AG Race Box 1


Len Johnson collection – Shelfmark: AG Johnson, Len


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