League of Coloured Peoples

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The League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) was a British civil-rights organization that was founded in 1931 in London by Jamaican-born physician and campaigner Harold Moody with the goal of racial equality around the world. Although the League's primary focus was black rights in Britain, it also was involved in other civil-rights issues, such as the persecution of the Jews in Germany. In 1933, the League of Coloured Peoples began publication of the civil-rights journal The Keys, and was a powerful civil-rights force until its dissolution in 1951.

The beginning[edit]

Harold Moody, a physician and devout Christian, was frustrated with the prejudice he experienced in Britain, from finding employment to simply obtaining a residence. Through his involvement with London Christian Endeavour Federation, Moody began to confront employers who were refusing jobs to black Britons. On 13 March 1931, in a YMCA in Tottenham Court Road, London, Moody called a meeting with the contacts he had made over the years. He was helped by Charles H. Wesley, an African-American history professor visiting Britain on a Guggenheim Fellowship, who was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[1][2][3] On this night, they formed The League of Coloured Peoples.[4]

Its inaugural executive committee[5] of included:

Also present at the inaugural meeting was Stella Thomas, who would go on to become the first woman magistrate in West Africa.

Other prominent members included C. L. R. James, Jomo Kenyatta and Una Marson.[1]


At the inaugural meeting, The League of Coloured Peoples established four main aims, printed in each issue of The Keys:[4][6]

  • To promote and protect the Social, Educational, Economic and Political Interests of its members;
  • To interest members in the Welfare of Coloured Peoples in all parts of the World;
  • To improve relations between the Races;
  • To cooperate and affiliate with organisations sympathetic to coloured people

In 1937, a fifth aim was added:

  • To render such financial assistance to coloured people in distress as lies within our capacity.


The colour bar in the workplace[edit]

From its inception in 1931 until the outbreak of World War II, the League's primary focus was eliminating the colour bar (the restrictions placed on a group of people due to their race or colour) in the British workplace, in social life, and in housing. Throughout Britain in the 1930s, black people were refused service in many restaurants, hotels, and lodging houses. They also found it extremely difficult to find employment in many industries; the medical profession in particular drew the attention of the league, most likely due to founder and president Harold Moody's personal struggles in that area. By 1935, a branch of the league focusing on equality in the shipping industry had grown to over 80 members. During the 1930s, The League of Coloured Peoples struck many blows for blacks in the workplace.

The colour bar in the military[edit]

The Charter of Coloured People[edit]

During the Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War the LCP continued to highlight discrimination. Authorities organizing the evacuation of children from the big towns found it very difficult to find families who would accept to take in coloured children, and the LCP lobbied against this sort of discrimination.


  1. ^ a b "Harold Moody", Making Britain, The Open University.
  2. ^ Barbara P. Josiah, "Moody, Harold Arundel", Encyclopedia.com, 2005.
  3. ^ "Afro-metropolis: Black Political and Cultural Associations in Interwar London, University of California Press, p. 39.
  4. ^ a b Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, London: Pluto Press, 1984, p. 327.
  5. ^ John Simkin, "Harold Moody", Spartacus Educational.
  6. ^ "Objectives of the League of Coloured Peoples", taken from The Keys. British Library.

External links[edit]

  • "100 Great Black Britons - Harold Moody". Retrieved 15 September 2005.
  • ""The Keys and the League of Coloured Peoples", Migration Histories". Retrieved September 15, 2005.