Race Today

The Race Today Collective was formed in 1973 as part of a break with its founding body, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). John La Rose was an important sounding-board that year, given his own role as chair of the reformed IRR and friendship with its newly elected director, Ambalavaner Sivanandan. The Institute of Race Relations had been founded in 1958 to research international race relations as part of a liberal shift in post-war understanding of race. It published reports on the Notting Hill Riots of 1958 and other studies, including a controversial study of race in Britain, Colour and Citizenship by E. R. B. ‘Jim’ Rose. By the late sixties, it was increasingly criticised by its more radical followers who were sceptical of its close connections to the state and its other funding sources (including the Ford Foundation) and an apparent lack of impartiality in its research. In pursuit of a more radical confrontation with issues of racism in British society, Race Today broke away to form an independent body based in Brixton, while the IRR continued to carry out significant research and published the journal Race and Class under its new leadership.

Race Today Oct 1978. Archive Ref: GB2904 JOU/1/1/87
The Race Today Collective included journalist and broadcaster Darcus Howe, writer Farrukh Dhondy, and poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson. Together they published the important radical magazine Race Today (1973-1988), edited by Howe, which contained articles on radical anti-racist political activities, campaigns, and cultural events in Britain and internationally. Its staff included David Clark, Leila Hassan (subsequently editor), Nancy Dodge, Lorine Burt, Hilary Arnott, and the graphic designer Julian Stapleton (who also designed books and illustrated covers for NBB). Prior to the break, the IRR had run a successful series of publications in partnership with Oxford University Press, but this programme ceased in 1973.
Race Today published sixteen books between 1977 and 1988, beginning with a pamphlet by Darcus Howe, edited by Sarah White, entitled The Road make to walk on carnival day: the battle for the West Indian Carnival in Britain. The collective subsequently published non-fiction and fiction by authors including Linton Kwesi Johnson, C.L.R. James and Jean Binta Breeze.