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date: 29 March 2020

James, C. L. R. locked

  • Selwyn Cudjoe

Extract

Cyril Lionel Robert James (1901–1989), eminent pan-Africanist and one of the most original Marxist thinkers to emerge from the Western hemisphere, was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad. He was named after his father, Robert James, the principal of several outstanding primary schools in the island. Robert’s nephew Cyril Austin, who lived with the James family for many years, observed that Robert “reveled in everything that lifted the human mind; that is, everything that was Victorian. He dabbled in the arts, the liberal arts, music and dancing.” Young James attended Arima Government School, from which he won a government scholarship to go to Queen’s Royal College (QRC), the leading high school on the island. After he completed his studies at QRC, he was offered a teaching position where, among others, he taught Eric Williams, author of Capitalism and Slavery and former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Each night ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought.

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