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Notting Hill Carnival "mothers" honoured

Revellers having fun at Notting Hill Carnival

SCORES OF people have turned out for ceremony that saw Notting Hill Carnival’s two founding mothers being honoured with prestigious Blue plaques.

The plaques, immortalising the memories of Claudia Jones and Rhaune Laslett-O’Brien, were unveiled in Carnival square, Notting Hill, west London earlier today (August 26).

Claudia Jones' Blue plaque

Laslett-O'Brien's Blue plaque

The ceremony, organised by the Nubian Jak Community Trust (NJCT), was held just ahead of this Bank holiday weekend’s staging of Europe’s largest street party.

Starting the ceremony, well-known educator Professor Gus John poured libations of white rum onto the square, out of respect for the women and to imitate ancient African Caribbean customs.

Professor Gus John pours white rum onto Carnival square in Notting Hill to honour Jones' and Laslett-O'Brien's memories and imitate ancient African Caribbean customs

“This has been a historical occasion, because it enables the current generation to understand the history of carnival and the connection to the Caribbean,” John said.

“In acknowledging Rhaune Laslett (O’Brien), the Notting Hill Festival acknowledged the fact that this was a predominantly working class area and most of the people here at the time made their own street art and community festival,” he added.

The Blue plaque award scheme is part of Nubian Jak’s on-going work to keep alive the legacy of black men and women who have helped shape Britain’s history.

The Trust said that the plaques not only launched this year's Notting Hill carnival weekend and honoured all those who contribute to the festival but would also help to “heal a nation still recovering from the recent riots” that swept towns and cities in England last month.

Claudia Jones

Jones, a Trinidadian, created the first indoor Caribbean carnival in 1959 to raise money for the victims of the 1958 race riots in Notting Hill. Known as a political activist and community leader, Jones, who died in 1964, was also known for creating the West Indian Gazette Newspaper.

Rhaune Laslett-O'Brien

Rhaune Laslett-O'Brien, of Russian and Native American decent, lived in West London most of her life. She dedicated her time helping the poor and fighting for community cohesion. She organized the first outdoor Notting Hill festival and also founded the Notting Hill Neighborhood Service, a voluntary service, which offered free legal and welfare advice to locals. She died in 2002.

John said Laslett-O’Brien’s festival “created the frame work for the people who came over from the West Indies to build on.”

He also said it is important for “historical and spiritual reasons to acknowledge the contribution that the English working class people made here before we came. History didn’t begin in the country with us black people. It would be crass and unhistorical for us not to honor those who fought for the freedoms that we were able to operate and struggle in.”

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