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Talk on Claudia Jones, organised by LUX

LUX/ Highgate Cemetery Talks: Claudia Jones
Thu 25 Jun - Fri 31 Jul 2020

During the lockdown when visiting the cemetery is still difficult for many people, LUX (based in Waterlow Park, next to the cemetery) is organising a series of online virtual visits with thinkers and artists reflecting on life and work of some of the inspirational people buried there.

The first event will be discussion on the life and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915–1964), the pioneering and inspirational Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist who is buried in Highgate Cemetery close to Karl Marx. We will be joined by Carole Boyce Davies, Professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University and Claudia Jones scholar, author of Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (2008) and editor of a reader of Jones’ writing Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment (2010) and artist Rhea Storr, who in her recent film works has investigated carnival as a space of both celebration and protest, exploring their social structures, costume and language.

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. In the UK she became a leader in the Black equal rights movement that was emerging in London’s Notting Hill and founded The West Indian Gazette, one of the first Black newspapers in the UK. She believed that “a people’s art is the genesis of their freedom” and in 1959 was one of the founders of the Caribbean Carnival, an annual London festival that continues today as the Notting Hill Carnival.

A video of the talk will be online on this page from 25th June and is presented as part of the Highgate Festival 2020