The Women behind Nello James

In the wake of the revelation that the Nello James Centre on Withington Road, Whalley Range is up for sale, TNT is delving in to the history of the centre and the man it is named after. Today we look at the woman behind the man- C.L.R James’s wife Selma James and the woman allegedly behind the centre- Vanessa Redgrave.

Selma James is an influential and inspirational woman in her own right. An author and activist, her books have resonated as much as her fights for equal rights for women and black people.

It was when she joined the Johnson-Forest tendency that she met C.L.R James who was a leader of the group. The pair married in Britain in 1955 and during their 25 –year marriage they spent three years in Trinidad fighting for West Indian independence.

Throughout her marriage and life, Selma has constantly campaigned against sexism and racism. Some of her most successful, classic books include A Woman’s Place, The Power of Women & the Subversion of the Community and Sex, Race & Class.

To this day, Mrs James is most well known as the founder of the International Wages for Work campaign and resides in Kentish Town, London.

Vanessa Redgrave is a British actress based in London. A long-standing story in Manchester is that in the 1970s Redgrave bequeathed the centre to the Caribbean community of the area in the name of C.L.R James whose nickname is “Nello”.

Although there is over 30 years between them, Redgrave and James were said to be good friends, whether this is true or not, one thing they do have in common is their contribution to political activism. Redgrave being aware of James’s work and dedication may well have been enough to make her want to gift a property in his name.

Now more than ever it is important to find out if the land has been bequeathed as it will be very useful in the campaign to save the Nello James. TNT has contacted Ms Redgrave to find out how she is connected to the property and if she did in fact bequeath it.

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