The House

Claudia Jones: journalist and political activist

- Da n Butler Labour MP for Brent Central

It is said that Africans have the most forgiving heart. I think this saying is born out of the necessity to survive, forgive, move forward and leave a legacy. So the woman I have chosen to celebrate is Claudia Jones, because her legacy has transcende­d generation­s and is a coming together of hearts and minds to bring joy out of injustice.

e Trinidadia­n-born journalist and political activist Claudia Jones is rightly celebrated as one of the central founders of the No ing Hill Carnival, which is now said to be the second-largest annual carnival in the world. She was raised in New York City, before coming to London in the 1950s.

In 1958, from a small o ce at 250 Brixton Road, she launched Britain’s

rst Black newspaper – the West

Indian Gaze e – which campaigned for an end to colonialis­m, a united

West Indies and the fair treatment of Britain’s Black communitie­s.

Later that year, in response to a series of racist a acks in No ing Hill, she organised a carnival which took place in January 1959 at St Pancras Town Hall. It was sponsored by the West Indian Gaze e under the slogan: “A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom.” It continues to celebrate the beauty of West Indian culture and heritage to this day – and is one of the dates I look out for in my diary every year.

is template inspired the founders of the No ing Hill Carnival, which rst took over the streets of West London in 1964, the same year Jones died from a heart condition and tuberculos­is brought on by a lung condition dating back to her time spent in an American jail. e civil rights leader, actor and singer Paul Robeson read the eulogy at her funeral and she is buried in Highgate Cemetery, next to Karl Marx.

It is o en true that Black women are at the front of campaigns – especially those advocating for truth and justice. Some people refer to the trope of the “strong Black woman”; I say it is not by choice that a Black woman has to be strong.

“It is not by choice that a Black woman has to be strong”

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