Notting Hill Carnival is back !
We are all happy that Carnival is back in London streets this year.
However, as we dance in the famous borough of Chelsea and Kensington, we also want to remember the 72 lives who were sadly lost during Grenfell Tower fire 5 years ago.
London Carnival’s history is deep and also started in pain with the murder of Kelso Cochrane, a 32-year old Antiguan man whose only crime was to be black…
He died on Sunday 17 May 1959 after being attacked by a gang of white youths and his murder was never solved.
This reflects the environment of that time as Notting Hill Race Riots took place just one year prior in 1958.
The local community could not endure in silence so much harassment and constant violence in its neighbourhood so they decided to respond with positivity and love instead of negativity and hate.
A blue plaque marks the spot where his life was unfortunately taken on Southam Street.
Photo : Kelso Cochrane
Kelso Cochrane’s funeral attracted over 1200 people on Ladbroke Grove in 1959 and his death triggered protests to raise awareness on the race tensions in the UK.
Some of these protests were organised by Amy Ashwood Garvey and Claudia Jones. Two great women that you should know.
If you never heard these names, we encourage you to be more curious and find out more about their lives.
Left : Amy Ashwood Garvey | Right : Claudia Jones
Claudia Jones, famous Trinidadian organiser and civil rights’ activist came to the United Kingdom after being expelled from the United States of America for being a communist. She is often associated with the birth of Carnival in London but she did not organise the first festival as we know it today Rhaune Laslett did.
Rhaune Laslett was a social worker and activist from the area who initiated the Notting Hill Festival in 1966 to lift up local communities and heal racial tensions. It is from that the evolution of that event that Notting Hill Carnival as we know it today was born.
However, it is also important to acknowledge that Claudia Jones brought the spirit of carnival to the UK. She was the founder of the West Indian Gazette which organised the first Caribbean Carnival in London at St Pancras Town Hall on 30 January 1959. The gala was broadcasted on BBC and a portion of its proceeds were used to help the victims of the 1958 race riots to pay fines.
As you can see, this carnival was celebrated indoors and aligned with Trinidad and Tobago. These town hall galas were very popular but the Notting Hill Carnival as we know it started after Claudia Jones’s death in 1964. She died from a heart disease but there is no doubt that her work is a precursor to the famous Notting Hill Carnival.
Today, Carnival is a massive celebration of Caribbean cultures which brings over 1 million people to London every year making it the second biggest carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro. It is is also the largest festival in Europe and this is all thanks to the amazing power of Caribbean cultures 🥳
Final words from us :
- Have a moment to remember Grenfell Tower victims and Kelso Cochrane.
- Enjoy 3 days of immersion in pure Caribbean culture : try the food, drinks and anything else on the side roads like improvised block parties !
- Celebrate love and have fun because Notting Hill Carnival is definitely back !
- Thank you to Mama Claudia Jones and Mama Rhaune Laslett (yes she was white but we call her Mama by respect as well :)) for giving us this incredible reason to celebrate Caribbean cultures for many more years to come.
Stay safe family !
For more info visit : Notting Hill Carnival
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