Today, August 22, 2010, at 10:00am, the Claudia Jones Walk was led by Jacqui Charles, with special guest Rudolph Walker (Love Thy Neighbour, Black Silk, Thin Blue Line). [My apologies for not informing our readers earlier.] The Claudia Jones Walk is a free cultural walk in Camden celebrating the life and work of anti-racist campaigner Claudia Jones (1915-1964), also known as the Mother of Carnival. The event took place at the Camden Centre in London.
The Camden Centre, formerly the St. Pancras Town Hall is where the first UK Carnival took place in 1959, organized by none other than Claudia Jones. Founder of Britain’s 1st Black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette, Jones was a charismatic speaker and brilliant organizer. Jones played an essential role in the anti-racist struggles of 1950s England.
Shango Baku writes: “The first indoor Carnival, held at the St Pancreas Town Hall in January 1959, was a masterstroke of Claudia’s genius. Always aware of the power of Art and Culture to influence change, Claudia sought to reverse the disesteem, loneliness and alienation of Black people in Britain, people like herself who time and circumstance had washed up on foreign shores, far from their roots and origins. In her childhood in Trinidad she had seen the power of Carnival to knit the many strands of a hugely diverse society in mass celebration. [. . .] As in its Caribbean roots, Carnival would embrace protest within Celebration, and replace conflict with understanding. It would express liberty and equality through its rituals of masquerade. Hers was a deeply humanising mission.”
For an excellent book on Jones’ life and activism, see Carol Boyce Davies’ must-read Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (2007).
Excerpt from book description: Claudia Cumberbatch Jones was born in Trinidad. In 1924, she moved to New York, where she lived for the next thirty years. She was active in the Communist Party from her early twenties onward. A talented writer and speaker, she traveled throughout the United States lecturing and organizing. In the early 1950s, she wrote a well-known column, “Half the World,” for the Daily Worker. As the U.S. government intensified its efforts to prosecute communists, Jones was arrested several times. She served nearly a year in a U.S. prison before being deported and given asylum by Great Britain in 1955. There she founded The West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News and the Caribbean Carnival, an annual London festival that continues today as the Notting Hill Carnival. Boyce Davies examines Jones’s thought and journalism, her political and community organizing, and poetry that the activist wrote while she was imprisoned. Looking at the contents of the FBI file on Jones, Boyce Davies contrasts Jones’s own narration of her life with the federal government’s. Left of Karl Marx establishes Jones as a significant figure within Caribbean intellectual traditions, black U.S. feminism, and the history of communism.
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For full article, see http://www.itzcaribbean.com/blackhistory_walk.php
For more information on Claudia Jones, see http://www.itzcaribbean.com/claudia_jones_carnival.php
For more on Carol Boyce Davies’ book, see previous post Carole Boyce Davis’s new book launched, http://caroleboycedavies.blogspot.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/Left-Karl-Marx-Political-Communist/dp/0822341166/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282497497&sr=1-1