The life of a pioneering civil rights campaigner has been celebrated with the unveiling of a blue heritage plaque outside her home.

Activist and journalist Claudia Jones worked for equality and in support of Caribbean communities in London from the 1950s onwards.

She was the founding editor of groundbreaking Black newspaper, The West Indian Gazette, organised anti-racism campaigns and put on Britain’s first Caribbean Carnival in Camden to enable people to share and celebrate culture.

Claudia died suddenly aged 49 on Christmas Eve 1964 and was laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery, following her own instructions that her ashes should be interred next to the grave of Karl Marx.

On December 18, a blue heritage plaque was unveiled outside her house in Lisburne Road, Gospel Oak, where she lived during the last two years of her life.

Ham & High: The blue heritage plaque in Lisburne Road, Gospel Oak, celebrating the life of pioneer Claudia JonesThe blue heritage plaque in Lisburne Road, Gospel Oak, celebrating the life of pioneer Claudia Jones (Image: Camden Council)

Camden Council partnered with the Nubian Jak Community Trust, an organisation dedicated to installing blue plaques commemorating significant individuals from underrepresented communities.

Born Claude Vera Cumberbatch in Trinidad and Tobago on February 21, 1915, she was one of four girls born to Charles and Sybil Cumberbatch, who moved to the US in 1922 to search for a better life.

She joined her parents in New York aged 8 in 1924 and in 1936, aged 21, Claudia Cumberbatch joined the American Communist Party and rose through the ranks.

By 1945 she had taken the surname Jones and was one of the main editors of the communist newspaper The Daily Worker.

However, her fame and influence as an essayist brought with it surveillance by the FBI and within 10 years she would be deemed a threat to national security and deported from the US.

Advised not to return by her birth country, in 1955 she moved to London. Following the Windrush communities' arrival seven years earlier, there was tension over race, immigration, and citizenship, and newcomers from the Commonwealth were often treated with hostility and violence.

Claudia worked tirelessly in support of Caribbean communities, setting up Britain’s first Black newspaper, anti-racism campaigns and organising Britain’s first Caribbean Carnival, a variety show held in Camden Town Hall in 1959.

The festival featured steel bands, calypso singing, dancing, costumes, a beauty pageant and food, and was followed by others across London and elsewhere until 1964.

Cllr Sabrina Francis, Camden's lead member for young people and culture, said: “Claudia Jones left a lasting legacy here in Camden and is known as one of the most influential Black leaders of post-war Britain, so it’s fantastic to be celebrating her life and recognising her significant work in civil rights and social justice which will also hopefully give residents and visitors the opportunity to learn more about her life and legacy.”

Cllr Nadia Shah, cabinet member for voluntary sector, equalities and cohesion, said: “It was an honour to join community members and the Nubian Jak Community Trust to celebrate the immense contributions and influence Claudia Jones had on communities across Camden and London.”

Dr Jak Beula, CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust, said: “Claudia was a woman of the global south, silenced and expelled from the west, who re-established her activism in the UK, and whose influence subsequently spread throughout the Commonwealth.”