Today’s Google Doodle remembers Claudia Jones - here’s her story

Claudia Jones at the National Communist Headquarters in New York in 1948 after being arrested and charged with being an illegal alien (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Claudia Jones at the National Communist Headquarters in New York in 1948 after being arrested and charged with being an illegal alien (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today’s (14 October) Google Doodle celebrates Claudia Jones.

A Trinidad and Tobago-born journalist and activist, Jones is perhaps best remembered for founding the UK’s first major black newspaper, and her work in laying the groundwork for the now world famous Notting Hill carnival.

Here is everything you need to know about the journalist and activist.

Who was Claudia Jones?

Most Popular

    Jones was born Claudia Vera Cumberbatch on 21 February 1915 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, though at eight years of age she and her family emigrated to New York City’s Harlem.

    Her potential for activism and philanthropy were quickly realised when she won the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Good Citizenship at her junior high school.

    She graduated high school - though as immigrants, her family were too poor to attend the graduation ceremony - and Jones began working in a laundry, while writing a column called Claudia Comments for a Harlem journal on the side.

    In 1936, she joined the Young Communist League USA and, passionate about writing, contributed to and led a variety of communist publications as a young adult.


    Hide Ad

    In 1937 she became a member of the editorial staff of the Daily Worker, rising by 1938 to become editor of the Weekly Review. When the Young Communist League became American Youth for Democracy during World War II, Jones became editor of its monthly journal, Spotlight.

    After the war, Jones became executive secretary of the Women's National Commission, secretary for the Women's Commission of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), and in 1952 took the same position at the National Peace Council.

    Why did she come to the UK?

    Jones was an outspoken advocate of civil rights, gender equality, and decolonisation, and used her journalism to spread her message, often speaking at public gatherings to work towards the liberation of black women from discrimination faced through classism, racism and sexism.


    Hide Ad

    Her political activity led to multiple imprisonments while in America, and due to the political persecution of Communists in the USA, she was deported in 1955 to the United Kingdom.

    Transplanting her impassioned fight against racial injustice to the other side of the Atlantic, Jones turned her attention to issues facing London’s West Indian immigrant community.

    The West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News

    One of Jones’s best remembered achievements came in 1958, when she founded and served as the editor in chief for the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News - the UK’s first major black newspaper.


    Hide Ad

    Through its global news coverage, the Gazette aimed to unify the black community in the worldwide battle against discrimination, and provided a platform for Jones to organise the country’s first Caribbean carnival in 1959.

    The carnival - organised in response to the Notting Hill race riots of 1958 as a way to “wash the taste of Notting Hill out of our mouths" - is widely credited as the precursor to today’s annual celebration of Caribbean culture, the Notting Hill Carnival.

    How did she die?

    Jones died at the young age of 49.


    Hide Ad

    Her body was found on Christmas Day 1964, a day after she had died of a heart attack due to a combination of heart disease and the tuberculosis she had suffered as a child, which left her with irreparable lung damage.

    Her funeral was a large and political ceremony, with her burial plot in Highgate Cemetery, North London selected to be that located to the left of the tomb of her hero, Karl Marx.

    A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Scotsman