Pan African Congress held in Manchester at a time when ’empires were crumbling’

  • Success of Pan African Congress and African diaspora celebrated by people of Manchester.
  • Conference held at Manchester Metropolitan University during Black History Month

The remarkable achievements of the Pan African Congress have been celebrated by academics at Man Met university.

A conference organised by Man Met during Black History Month highlighted the significance of the fifth Pan-African Conference and the independence of African countries.

The congress was held in Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall focusing on colonialisation, discrimination, capitalism and imperialism

The new Arts and Humanities building at Manchester Metropolitan University, which is due to open in 2020, is intricately linked to the history and heritage of the old Chorlton-on-Medlock town hall.

Pan Africanism was a movement in which black people and Africans in the colonial diaspora championed self-value and encouraged the bonds of solidarity among themselves. The movement was based on the concept of unity which was vitally important in the political, social and economic uplift of African people.

From 1919 to 1945, a series of Pan African congress meetings were held, with the fifth one being held in Manchester in 1945.

Several resolutions were passed at the Manchester congress, including a motion on racial discrimination, and the ideas of imperialism and capitalism were roundly denounced.

Pro vice-chancellor of education at Manchester Metropolitan University, Helen Laville

The pro vice-chancellor of education at Manchester Metropolitan University, Helen Laville, said: “Pan African Congress is a group which had met after the Second World War to try and see that how they can influence the treatment of both Africans in diaspora and Africans descendants who are living in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“Out of five congresses, the fifth Pan African Congress was an actual time of change. All the empires were crumbling so it was the moment of opportunity for participants to seize the time.

“And the fact that wind changed just so right that many members who were involved were ready to give independence to the African States.”

Senior lecturer in American History at Man Met, Sam Edwards, said: “The key moment was October 1945 when the members of that group of Pan African Congress came to Manchester to hold a meeting. And this meeting took various places in Manchester, and the key location was Chorlton-on-Medlock town hall.

“Black History is an idea emerged by both the United Kingdom and the United States. It is about recognizing the important facts that history has traditionally and conventionally for centuries, have marginalized people’s communities and stories.”