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Sat, 09.21.1901

Learie Constantine, Cricket Player, and Politician born

Learie Constantine

*Learie Constantine was born on this date in 1901. He was a Black cricket player, broadcast journalist, administrator, lawyer, and politician.

From Diego Martin, Trinidad, the son of a test cricketer, worked in a solicitor's office before beginning a cricket career. He made his debut while touring England in 1928. Constantine moved to England and joined the Nelson team in the Lancashire Cricket League the following year. Constantine became captain of the West Indies and led the team to their first victory in a test match in 1930. He also played an important role in West Indies winning the series against England in 1934-35.

After retiring from cricket, he became a commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the Second World War, Constantine worked as a welfare officer for the labor ministry. Based in Liverpool, his main responsibility was to help West Indian immigrants find employment in Britain.

In 1943 Constantine was refused service in a British hotel because of his color. He took the owners of the hotel to court and won his case. Later he wrote Colour Bar (1954) with his friend, C. L. R. James. The book dealt with racial prejudice in Britain. After studying law, Constantine gained entrance to the English bar in 1954. Later he returned to Trinidad, where he became involved in politics.

A member of the People's National Movement, he served in the government as minister of community works and utilities. When Trinidad gained independence, he became his country's first high commissioner to London. In 1964 he resigned but stayed in Britain, where he held several important positions. This included being governor of the BBC, a member of the Race Relations Board, and the Sports Council. In 1969 Constantine became the first person of African descent to gain a life peerage. Learie Constantine died of lung cancer in Hampstead, London, on July 1, 1971.

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