Web users in the UK would have been greeted yesterday with the image of Trinidadian born activist and journalist on the Google web browser’s masthead. Depicting her against a background of yellow, purple and green, Jones is described as an activist, feminist, journalist, orator and community organiser.
She is hailed as the founder of the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News (WIG) in 1958, Britain’s first major black newspaper.
But she is also hailed for creating the first Caribbean Carnival in London in 1959 in response to the infamous Nottinghill Race riots of the year before.
Professor Carole Boyce Davies said, “Being a Google Doodle is a rare honour for a Black person period. It is like getting a stamp in one’s honour in the world of social media. In both the US and UK contexts, only world historic figures have been accorded such an honour. Harriet Tubman in the US for example.”
Professor Boyce Davies is the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters and professor of Africana studies at Cornell University. She is the author of the most detailed biography of Jones, Left of Karl Marx, a reference to both Jones’ final resting place at London’s Highgate Cemetery, and in recognition for her work to include gender and race as concepts within a Marxist-Leninist framework.
Google’s team consulted with Prof. Boyce Davies on the design and research for the doodle. She was one of four people consulted on the project.
Born Claudia Vera Cumerbatch on Cazabon Lane in Belmont on February 1915, Jones and her family moved to the United States when she was eight. It was in the U.S. that she first developed her skills as a journalist and activist. U-S racial politics were hard to ignore and she was deeply involved in responding to them. In fact she changed her last name to Jones as an initial line of defense against U.S. McCarthyism. She had already become a member of the Communist party by then, and was therefore a potential target.
She was eventually arrested for her activities and deported to Trinidad in 1950, only to be refused entry because it was felt that “she may prove troublesome”. Which is how Jones ended up in the UK on humanitarian grounds.
Jones continued with her journalism as the founder and editor, of WIC.
One year after she started the paper, she created the first Caribbean carnival in London. It is was the predecessor to the now annual Nottinghill Carnival which has become the largest West Indian style carnival in Europe.