Knowledge Sessions: Who Was Claudia Jones?

cjones

(15 Feb­ru­ary 1915—24 Decem­ber 1964)
Founder of Britain’s first black weekly news­pa­per “The West­in­di­an Gaz­ette”, also known as the mother of the Not­ting Hill Car­ni­val

Claudia Jones, fem­in­ist, black nation­al­ist, polit­ic­al act­iv­ist, com­munity lead­er, com­mun­ist and journ­al­ist, has been described as the mother of the Not­ting Hill car­ni­val. The diversity of her polit­ic­al affil­i­ations clearly illus­trated her mul­ti­fa­ceted approach to the struggle for equal rights in the 20th cen­tury.

She was born in Bel­mont, Port-of-Spain, Trin­id­ad in 1915 and at the age of eight moved to Har­lem, New York with her par­ents and three sis­ters. Her edu­ca­tion was cut short by Tuber­cu­los­is and the dam­age to her lungs as well as severe heart dis­ease plagued Claudia for the rest of her life.

For over 30 years she lived in New York and dur­ing this time became an act­ive mem­ber of the Amer­ic­an Com­mun­ist party, an organ­isa­tion in which her journ­al­ist­ic and com­munity lead­er­ship skills were max­im­ised. By 1948 she had become the edit­or of Negro Affairs for the party’s paper the Daily Work­er and had evolved into an accom­plished speak­er on human and civil rights.

In 1955 she was depor­ted from the US and given asylum in England, where she spent her remain­ing years work­ing with London’s Afric­an-Carib­bean com­munity. She foun­ded and edited The West Indi­an Gaz­ette which des­pite fin­an­cial prob­lems remained cru­cial in her fight for equal oppor­tun­it­ies for black people.

Claudia Jones last­ing leg­acy is undoubtedly the Not­ting Hill car­ni­val, which she helped launch in 1959 as an annu­al show­case for Carib­bean tal­ent. These early cel­eb­ra­tions were held in halls and were epi­tom­ised by the slo­gan, ‘A people’s art is the gen­es­is of their freedom’.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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