Learie: The Man Who Broke The Colour Bar

Learie: The Man Who Broke The Colour Bar

By Brian Scovell

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: 28 Jan 2021


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Categories: History, Politics and Society, Sport and Hobbies, Biography

ISBN: 9781913551483


Lord Learie Constantine was an all-time great West Indian cricketer who found himself at the centre of race relations in 1940s Britain when, on June 30, he won a High Court action when he and his family were ordered out of the Imperial Hotel in Russell Square because white US soldiers objected. It led to the passing of the Race Relations Act in 1968 – an act in which he was heavily involved. 

Lord Learie was the grandson of a slave, a High Commissioner of Trinidad, the first Afro-Caribbean to become a Peer of the Realm, a BBC governor, a writer and, later, a pioneer in race relations during WW2 Britain and the Windrush affair. In cricket, Learie was a sporting icon, in politics, he made a discernible difference to equality in the UK. This book tells the important and sometimes overlooked story, of Lord Learie’s achievements – both in the field of cricket and in politics. His fight for equality, seemingly against the odds, is a story that remains highly relevant today. 

Brian Scovell ghostwrote Lord Constantine’s cricket commentaries between 1963-69 for the Daily Sketch, driving him around the country while attending Test matches. They formed a lifelong friendship culminating in Brian being invited to speak at the Houses of Parliament when the bust of Lord Learie was unveiled in 2019, marking the 50th anniversary of his being appointed as the first black Peer in 1969. 

Brian Scovell is a prolific sports journalist who has worked for the Press Association, Daily Sketch and Daily Mail as well as writing (and ghostwriting) over twenty-six highly-regarded sports biographies including The England Managers (The History Press, 2005), Jim Laker (The History Press, 2006) and Bill Nicholson: Football’s Perfectionist (John Blake, 2010), all of which were nominated for the British Sports Book Awards. Brian is obsessed with all sports, especially cricket, having covered over 350 test matches around the world. Brian, now working freelance, lives in Bromley, Kent.


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