Born in Trinidad, Claudia Jones migrated to the US with her family as a child. She caught tuberculosis as a teenager, and had to manage her health in relation to the damage done to her heart and luncgs for the rest of her lufe.
Radicalised as a communist and a Black Nationalist, Jones was imprisoned several times, and then deported as an ‘enemy of the state’ in 1955. The British Colonial Governor of Trininadad and Tobago would not allow her entry: “She may prove troublesome,” so she moved to the UK.
Jones’ campaigning focused on what she called the “triple oppression” of class, race and gender faced by black working class women. She faced a lot of racism in British communist circles.
In 1958, Jones founded Britain’s first major black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette. It was anti-racist, anti-imperialist and Marxist.
After the 1958 race riots in Notting Hill, Jones suggested a Mardi Gras-style carnival to unite and celebrate the multiple cultures in the aresa. For this, she is known as the Mother of Notting Hill Carnival.
Jones is buried in Highgate cemetary, to the left of Karl Marx.