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July 1, 1939

cover page of The Keys published on July 1, 1939

The Keys





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The Keys was a journal which was published quarterly between 1933 and 1939. It was controlled by the officers and executive committee of the League of Coloured Peoples and served as its official organ. It was sold at sixpence per copy.

Founded in London in 1931, The League of Coloured Peoples was the highest profile Black civil rights organisation in Britain. It addressed issues of discrimination and racist practices in employment, housing and education. The League's connections to missionary and Colonial Office circles enabled it to act as a social and welfare hub for isolated and sometimes under-resourced individuals and communities

The Keys' aim, as outlined by Dr Harold Moody, the League's founder and president was to present “the true facts on any issue of importance concerning people of colour in a fair, unbiased and dispassionate manner”. The journal cultivated a diverse readership of West Indians, Africans, Black people born in Britain and interested White subscribers. Its remit sought a balance between covering “the welfare of coloured peoples in all parts of the world” whilst aiming to “improve relations between the races”.

Scholarly coverage of African-American affairs and anti-colonial struggles across Africa and the African diaspora appeared alongside reports on LCP-organised outings to Epsom and Eastbourne for young people, West Indies cricket tours and the League's garden parties. These interests appeared as articles, essays, letters and poetry - sometimes illustrated with original photography and graphics.

The prominence of 'respectability politics' in the pages of The Keys drew criticism from more revolutionary elements in Black British society such as Ras Makonnen who decried the League's efforts as a seductive “balm of aid and garden parties”.

After 1939 the League's presence in print was served by a monthly News Letter as well as letters in the national press and occasional pamphlets

Dr Harold Moody died in Peckham in 1947 and the League of Coloured Peoples was dissolved in 1951.

Please be aware that The Keys journal uses terms and phrases relating to race that are outmoded, and are unacceptable today.

S.I. Martin – author, historian and journalist specialising in Black British history and literature

For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1933–39 The Keys

This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in London, London, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Sep 27, 2021 . The latest issues were added in Sep 27, 2021.