Millions Gather For This Historic Carnival Today Because Of Claudia Jones

claudia jones smiling
Zain Murdock
November 2, 2023

There are many Carnivals, but the one in Notting Hill, London, has been called the second-largest street party in the world. 

That Carnival was brought to Britain in 1959 by a Trinidadian communist named Claudia Jones.

Jones, who challenged the Communist party with her Black feminist politics, was deported from the U.S. for her work. Soon, she founded Britain’s first Black newspaper. She acted in 1958’s Notting Hill, London rebellion against anti-Black mobs and police officers. 

“We need something to get the taste of Notting Hill out of our mouths,” said Jones. And those weren’t empty words.

When Jones offered her Trinidadian tradition to London, it was January. As folks celebrated indoors, sheltered from the freezing air, they played music, danced, and even hosted a beauty pageant. 

It was a celebration and an act of solidarity - the event raised money for youth arrested during the uprising.

It's no coincidence that the idea of Carnivals began with emancipated Caribbeans, who celebrated slavery's end by subverting European masquerade traditions. The “taste” of enslavement was denounced. It was time to bring in the joy.

After all, across the diaspora, joy and resistance have always been linked. Our ancestors have always asserted that our existence is more than anti-Black violence. Notting Hill’s Carnival reminds us what our future will be like when we achieve our liberation.

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