Claudia Jones’ best-known achievement is that she is considered the mother of the Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest carnival in Europe. Some years ago, a stamp was issued in Britain that celebrated her as a ‘civil rights activist’. All very respectable, but concealing the fact that, first and foremost, Claudia was a communist.
Having been first jailed and then deported from the USA as an ‘alien’ (she was born in Trinidad) during the McCarthy anticommunist witch-hunts, Claudia spent the last decade of her life in Britain, founding the influential West Indian Gazette as part of her anti-racist and anti-imperialist work here.
Claudia fully understood the class basis of racism. Not only that, she understood why racism was festering among the working class. She wrote in one article:
“These artificial divisions and antagonisms between British and colonial workers, already costly in toll of generations of colonial wars and ever-recurrent crises, have delayed fundamental social change in Britain, and form the very basis of colour prejudice. The small top section of the working class, bribed and corrupted, and benefiting from this colonial robbery, have been imbued with this racist ‘white superiority’ poison.”
Claudia was a loyal communist with a deep understanding of Marxism Leninism. She was a born an organiser and an indomitable spirit, who would get up out of her hospital bed to attend political meetings and then return to it when the work was done. In this way, despite periods of illness, the contribution Claudia made to our movement during her short time here was a significant one, and her dedication continues to inspire new generations of communists.
Join us at Carnival on Sunday from 11am, outside Notting Hill Gate, to celebrate Claudia’s legacy!