UK Caribbean carnival pioneer Claus Jones commemorated with blue plaque

today03/02/2023 37

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Claudia Jones, pioneer behind the UK’s Caribbean carnival culture will be commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at a house in Vauxhall where she lived for four years, according to Guardian reporting.

Born in 1915 in Trinidad, Jones organised an event at St Pancras Town Hall in 1959 to celebrate Caribbean culture and identity, which would go on to inspire carnival culture in the country today, in events such as the Leeds Carnival, Bristol Carnival and the iconic Notting Hill Carnival.

A committed activist, she also started the first Black newspaper in the country, with the West Indian Gazette beginning in 1958, after moving to the UK from the USA in 1955 after being imprisoned and deported for being active as a member of the Communist party during the McCarthyist era.

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The event organised in 1959 came after a race riot broke out in August 1958, as young white men in West London violently attacked a number of Black residents.

Jones’s 1959 event was televised by the BBC and would go on to become what is today the Notting Hill Carnival – an annual celebration of Caribbean and Black identity, arts and culture – which is the second largest street gathering in the world.

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Jones passed away in 1964, aged 49 and is buried in North London’s Highgate Cemetery. The inscription on her grave describes her as “a valiant fighter against racism and imperialism, who dedicated her life to the progress of socialism and the liberation of her own black people”.

She is one of five women who will be commemorated with a blue plaque in 2023, including suffragettes Emily Wilding Davison and Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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