Claudia Jones ‑ political activist, journalist and revolutionary – is the subject of a new film from acclaimed film-maker, producer and director Frances-Anne Solomon. The biopic, Claudia, will honour Jones for her fight against intolerance, inequality and oppression.
The film will be produced in partnership with Solomon’s Canada-based Caribbean Tales Media Group (CTMG), Nadine Marsh-Edwards’ UK-Based Greenacre Films and Lisa Wickham’s Trinidad and Tobago-based Imagine Media International Limited. Also joining the team is British actress, writer, director and co-creator Adjoa Aboah and fast-rising British screenwriter Omari McCarthy.
Set in London in 1958, Claudia follows the story of Jones, a Trinidad-born communist deported to England from McCarthyite USA, who is determined to unify and provide a sense of community and support for the Black community living in Britain.
Jones is perhaps best known for her indoor ‘Caribbean Carnival’ shows that brought together many of those who went on to play pivotal roles in the birth of Notting Hill Carnival. However, she also founded and served as editor-in-chief of the West Indian Gazette, Britain’s first major Black newspaper. Despite struggling with tuberculosis, Jones dedicated her life to championing political activism, advocacy and the advancement of the Black community.
Jones was born in 1915 in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad, but at the age of nine she migrated with her family to New York City. She would later work at a local newspaper and, in response to injustices, segregation and widespread poverty in African-American communities, she became actively engaged in social activism and politics.
As one of the pioneers of feminism, Jones’ lifelong mantra was to champion the cause of Black women. Her most prominent piece of work, an essay titled ‘An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!’, was published in 1949, which helped to establish the foundations of intersectional feminism and analysed the unique oppression faced by Black women.
Jones’s fight for freedom, activism and ties to communist organisations was characterised by a series of arrests. In 1948, she was imprisoned for violating the McCarran Act for joining the American Communist Party as a non-US citizen. In 1955, she was convicted for “un-American activities” and deported to the UK in December 1955 after she was denied entry to Trinidad.
Jones settled in London during the height of post-war immigration when the city was riven by racial tension. She advocated for the thousands who had come to the capital from the Caribbean and in 1958 founded the West Indian Gazette to serve as the mouthpiece for the wider Black community. Jones’s unconventional response to the Notting Hill and Nottingham riots of 1958 was an indoor event the following January that showcased Caribbean talent. It became an annual event and indirectly laid the foundations for what eventually became Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival. On Christmas Eve 1964, Jones passed away from a heart attack at the age of just 49.
With a successful career that spans more than three decades, Frances-Anne Solomon needs no introduction to Soca News readers. In 2019, Solomon released a feature film titled, Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross, which tells the story of Trinidad-born Ulric Cross DSO DFC ‑ Second World War airman turned lawyer, judge and diplomat. Spanning three continents and three perspectives – with first-person interview, historical footage and dramatic scenes – it is a work of seamless depth and significance.
Speaking about the project, Solomon described Jones as “a modern-day superhero rooted in the real world, whose remarkable life and achievements straddled the USA, England and the Caribbean”.
Nadine Marsh-Edwards of Greenacre Films and producer of the critically acclaimed Been So Long, was pleased to partner with Frances-Anne and CaribbeanTales to tell the story of a remarkable Black woman whose achievements helped to shape present-day London.
Imagine Media’s President and CEO Lisa Wickham noted: “Frances-Anne’s film shines a much-deserved light on a Caribbean-born woman whose rich and beautiful legacy amplifies Black voices and experiences as a whole.”
Co-creator Adjoa Aboah added: “Claudia’s work promoting women’s rights, Black rights and the rights of the poor and disenfranchised laid the seeds for so much that followed – African and Caribbean independence, civil rights, Pan-Africanism and inevitably, today’s Black Lives Matter movement.”