Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Remembering Claudia Jones 1915 - 1964 - Visit to grave of Claudia Vera Jones - Sunday 20th February at 12.00 pm at Highgate Cemetery - London

Assemble at Highgate Cemetery at 12.00pm, Swains Lane, Highgate Village, London on Sunday 20th February 2011

Organised by The Pan-Afrikan Voice

Claudia Jones, the "mother of the Notting Hill Carnival" was a communist who spent her last years in London after being hounded out of the United States during the McCarthy witchhunts.

Born in the British West Indian colony of Trinidad in 1915 her family emigrated to the black slums of Harlem, New York in 1922. She joined the youth movement of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), the Young Communist League (YCL) in 1936 and soon became YCL organiser for Harlem. An active campaigner for black and womens' rights Claudia was a regular writer for the American Daily Worker and editor of the YCL's Weekly Review.

She visited every state in the USA campaigning for civil rights, womens rights and peace and soon became a target for the anti-communist witchhunts of the 1940s. In 1948 she was jailed for "advocating the overthrow" of the American government and imprisoned again in 1951. Bailed out by the CPUSA she was jailed for a third time. Claudia appealed to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear it, and was eventually deported in 1955 on the grounds that she was not an American citizen.

Racked by ill-health since childhood Claudia opted to come to Britain rather than Trinidad in the hope of better care. She joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and resumed active work amongst the growing Caribbean community in London launching and editing the West Indian Gazette. A year after the Notting Hill race riots of 1958 Claudia campaigned for integration and the promotion of Caribbean culture and was one of the founders and promoters of the Mardi Gras festival that has now become the Notting Hill Carnival -- the largest street festival in the whole of Europe.

Struck down by heart disease and tuberculosis Claudia Jones died on Christmas Eve, 1964. She is buried in a grave next to Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery. The inscription reads "valiant fighter against racism and imperialism who dedicated her life to the progress of socialism and the liberation of her own black people".


Anonymous said...

Claudia's story is heartbreaking and not surprising during the McCarthy era. Many fell victim to his paranoia which also included singer and civil rights activist Pete Seeger. Ann Coulter the neo-con boasts that McCarthy was a hero. He was a tyrrant bully who abused his power and position to a point of lunacy. The people who supported McCarthy rationalized their paranoia by saying that the communists wanted to eradicate the freedoms the US was built on. And I guess the best way McCarthy thought to do that was by wiretaps, surveillance and blacklisting anyone on his red list. Yeah what a hero and freedom fighter he was and Ms. Coulter left out one more word: LUNATIC the most appropriate descriptor of McCarthy as most will agree. Deborah Jeffries

Anonymous said...

What happened to Claudia Jones and many other great activists during the McCarthy era was a dark period in our history all because their political views differed from the mainstream. McCarthy was no hero as some pundits still continue to proclaim. He was a tyrant who abused his power and hopefully lessons have been learned. Deborah Jeffries