Fox Carnival Band
    Mother of the Mas
Activist Claudia Jones

Mother of the Mas
As the brainchild of activist Claudia Cumberbatch Jones, Notting Hill Carnival was, from its start, a tool of hope and reconciliation.

Born in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1915, Jones knew a lot about hatred and the conditions that can create it. At the age of eight, her family of five had moved to New York's Harlem, hoping to escape poverty. What they found instead were even harder circumstances.

At thirteen, Claudia saw her mother die of overwork; by seventeen, she herself was ill with tuberculosis. When her school awarded the teen a Good Citizen prize, Claudia could not afford new clothes to attend the ceremony.

Yet she was talented, opinionated and determined. When, in 1935, the Communist Party defended the "Scottsboro nine" (young black Americans falsely charged with rape), Jones decided to join the Young Communist League.

Just six years later, she became its National Director. By 1948, she was one of the top editors at The Daily Worker, its national newspaper.

By then, Jones was a well known figure, invited to speak across America, in China, Russia and Japan. She stood up for her beliefs at great personal cost and went to prison four separate times because of her activism. In 1955, the McCarthy witch-hunts succeeded in ordering her deportation from America. Jones was given political asylum in Britain.

Here she again became a busy political organizer, working for anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns, including the international effort to free Nelson Mandela. In March of 1958, Jones published the first issue of the West Indian Gazette. This was a campaigning newspaper she would edit for the rest of her life.

CONTINUE READING how Claudia Jones began Carnival

Helping Out
Carnival Year by Year