Phenomenal Women: Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones was many things, a feminist, black nationalist, political activist, community leader, communist and journalist. But her legacy real remains in her creating Notting Hill Carnival, a London, England based street party paying homage to Caribbean music and culture.

Born in Trinidad in 1915, Jones moved to the United States aged eight with her parents and siblings. She was often ill as a child suffering from Tuberculosis and heart disease, but this never stopped her activism. 

notting hill
The first indoor Caribbean Carnival (1959)

While living in New York, Jones joined the American Communist Party. Through this membership, she learnt how to write and built her leadership skills, becoming the Editor of ‘Negro Affairs’ in 1948, for the party’s newspaper, Daily Worker. She also became an accomplished public speaker, specializing on the topics of human and civil rights.

After being on CIA watchlists for years, as Communism wasn’t looked highly upon during this time, Jones was deported from the US and given asylum in England. There she spent her time working with the African-Caribbean community; she founded The West Indian Gazette, which held in the fight for equal opportunities for Black people. 

claudia speaks

Jones was part of the Notting Hill Riots (1958) which occurred after racist gangs began attacking Black Britons, the riots lasted five days and after this Jones came up with her infamous slogan, “A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom,”. Jones believed in tackling racial hatred through dance. Her Carnivals took place indoors, in a town hall and was televised by the BBC in 1959.

Jones believed in the movement of all people, no matter their race, to make a change in Britain.

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