Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 15:20:22 -0800 (PST)
From: Charles Brown <>
Precedence: bulk
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile

Claudia Jones: A life in exile

By Marika Sherwood, 1 April 1999

Every year a quarter of a million people pack the streets of London’s Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of Afro-Carribean culture which ranks among the great festivals of the world. As the sun-drenched carnival-goers soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the August Bank Holiday festival, few appreciate that its founder died in poverty on Christmas Eve in the bitterly cold winter of 1964, the end of a life dogged by struggle and illness. Marika Sherwood’s Claudia Jones: A Biography is the first book to chart the life and work of this visionary and pioneer.

Born in Trinidad in 1915, Claudia Jone’s family moved to Harlem, New York, where the young Claudia soon became involved with local Communist politics. In the immediate postwar years, Jones was a leading political figure of the left, still remembered for the rousing orations she gave to thousands in Madison Square Gardens, when she was imprisoned despite ill-health during the McCarthy witchhunts.

Extradited to Britain in 1955, Jones arrived in London penniless and friendless. She became active in civil rights campaigns amongst the new West Indian communities established in the capital.

In 1959 she launched an annual Carnival to showcase the talents and culture of the Afro-Carribean community. She also organised campaigns against the 1962 Immigration Act, the Vietnam War and the South African Apartheid regime.