C.L.R James The Times of London called him: "The Black Plato of our generation, the founding father of African emancipation." The Sunday Times said: "One of the last great polymaths...has gained world wide recognition for The Black Jacobins, with his study of the Slave Revolt in Haiti." While still on the Black Jacobins, Time Out magazine said: "It contains some of the finest and most deeply felt polemical writing against slavery and racism, and located the Caribbean and Caribbean society firmly on the world stage." Caryl Phillips of The Manchester Guardian said of him: "He is, quite simply, the outstanding West Indian of the century." This is high praise indeed especially given that James is an autodidact, yet, even such praise, high as it is, may not have reached the mark. For when properly evaluated it may well turn out that James is the outstanding man of the century! Jame's book 'Beyond A Boundary' is classed as the only classical book ever written of sport! In September 1932, on the advice of Constantine, James sent an article he had written on Sidney Barnes the bowler, to Neville Cardus at the Guardian, writing as a friend of Learie's. Constantine knew Cardus would recommend him to a provincial paper. Cardus told James that the Manchester Guardian would publish it, and that he also wanted to see him when next he was in Manchester. When James visited Cardus, he was offered the job as Cardus's deputy on the paper. As James said in his own words: "Sesame! Presto!, I had a job, and a good job. I could now look forward with some confidence to the future I had planned. I could relieve Constantine of the burden of supporting me. I could even take some time repaying him the now considerable sum he had already spent on me. I thought of it even if I did not get much further. There was much rejoicing in our camp. He had sponsored me and I had got an entry into one of the famous newspapers of the world." It was from here, from the sound platform built upon the generosity and friendship of Learie Constantine that James was to launch himself. Soon in 1936, he would put on his play 'Toussaint L'Overture', at the Westminster Theatre in London, protesting Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia. Then in 1938 he published his first two classical books 'The Black Jacobins' on the Haitian revolution, and his only novel 'Minty alley'. After this there was no looking back for James, and he and Constantine remained life long close friends and collaborators. From that close friendship and collaboration, between Cyril Lionel Robert James and Learie, Later Lord Learie Constantine, we the people of the Caribbean, have reaped great benefits. As well as the peoples of Africa and the Americas. In 1997 the University of the West Indies purchased the publication rights to the works of C.L.R. James, and are currently busy sorting and cataloguing his writings. It is to be hoped that for the tenth anniversary of his death, the University will do something to honour his outstanding contribution to humanity. For as I said before, C.L.R. James could be the outstanding man of the century!
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