London Notting Hill Carnival after Grenfell fire

This video says about itself:

19 March 2010

Claudia Jones, Trinidadian was an outstanding leader in the Black British struggle for equal rights. Deported from the States for her anti racist activities she landed in London and began campaigning for equal rights for the West Indian communities. She fought injustice, police brutality, housing and education discrimination. She set up the West Indian Gazette and created what is now known as the Notting Hill Carnival.

This video is the sequel.

By Zita Holbourne in London, England:

Marking carnival in the spirit of respect for the victims of the Grenfell fire

Saturday 26th August 2017

This year’s Notting Hill celebrations will be a more sombre affair as we remember those who lost their lives in the Grenfell tragedy, says ZITA HOLBOURNE

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL has existed throughout my life and is part of the fabric of London society.

Renowned internationally, it is one of the biggest outdoor carnivals in the world, but the roots of carnival sometimes seem forgotten or perhaps not known at all by the thousands of people who attend each year.

Growing up it was about mas, the costumes, floats, steel pan, sound systems all coming together in a fusion of colour, music, dance, community and celebration of culture. It was about fun, friendship and freedom.

Over the years there have been more and more restrictions placed on carnival, including road closures and earlier finishing times, followed by a debate about whether it should be taken out of its own heart and roots and moved to another place that does not hold the same cultural significance and removes the community connection. Yet another attack on our freedom to celebrate culture and history.

Following the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower causing scores of deaths and displacement, a debate took place on whether or not the carnival should go ahead this year, about whether or not it would be disrespectful to all those who died, those who lost loved ones, those who lost their homes, but also about concerns that the authorities had been looking for a reason to move it away from the community and that Grenfell might be used to take it away from Notting Hill permanently.

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and the wider community of north Kensington have concluded that the carnival should go ahead and have come up with a plan to show respect to everyone affected by the fire, to honour the memories of those who died and to ensure that all attending demonstrate empathy and acknowledge both those who have died and survivors.

They are calling on everyone attending carnival to show solidarity with the ongoing plight of those most deeply affected by wearing green clothing; the aim is to turn the carnival route green as a symbol of empathy.

The colour green has been chosen because following the fire, schoolchildren wore green clothes to honour the memories of the friends they had lost or who were impacted by the fire.

During the carnival, the Lancaster West Estate, where the Grenfell Tower is located, will be closed to the general public and special arrangements have been made with Latimer Road Station so people should be respectful and avoid these two areas. A separate quiet reflection zone will be provided on the carnival procession route for respectful contemplation in sight of Grenfell Tower.

This zone will be marked out separately in yellow and as the procession enters this zone there will be no sound and no music played. The hope is that the global attendees to carnival will be able to come together in a show of love and solidarity.

Carnival week marks 10 weeks since the fire, with the vast majority of those displaced yet to be provided with permanent housing and with a huge number of those who died insultingly still declared “missing” by the authorities. Those who survived and those who lost loved ones are having to navigate a plethora of systems, processes and bureaucracy. They face years of seeking answers and justice, they are displaced and unable to grieve or heal at this stage. Therefore, it is essential that their loss and plight is acknowledged with the utmost sensitivity and respect.

In the aftermath of the fire there have been many creative expressions and activities in response, to attempt to heal and in remembrance in the shape of art projects and activities.

The community wants all those visiting to show their creativity. Plans are also under way for local artists, children and volunteers to create green artworks, memorials and banners across the Notting Hill area to turn the whole of the community green as a sign of support.

At 3pm tomorrow and Monday there will be a moment of silence across the whole of the carnival, with a three-minute lead-up to ensure everyone is ready for what will be a defining moment in the residents’ quest for answers and justice.

Notting Hill Carnival may be a more sombre affair this year than we have been used to in the past but it is right and fitting that we honour both the spirit of carnival while also honouring the memories of all those whose lives were taken because of neglect, poverty, discrimination and cost-cutting. And it is right that we respect and support those who survived, those who lost loved ones and those who lost their homes, plus the wider community affected by this horrific and wholly avoidable event.

Almost 50 years after the racist attacks in the area that led to the precursor to the Notting Hill Carnival, the Caribbean Carnival organised by Claudia Jones, there are echoes now of the neglect, disregard, discrimination and injustice faced by the community then in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire.

At the start of that event in 1959 Jones said: “A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom.” It is fitting therefore that art is being used to bring solidarity and love to those in pain and those we have lost at this year’s carnival.

Zita Holbourne is the co-founder and national chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (Barac) UK, national vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services Union and part of the BMELawyers4Grenfell umbrella. She is also a visual artist and curator, writer, poet and spokenword artist.

More information can be accessed here on #greenforgrenfell

In the aftermath of the June 14 Grenfell Tower fire disaster in London, Australian federal and state governments scrambled to cover up their inaction and culpability over the widespread use of dangerous aluminium composite panel cladding. Three months on, government officials continue to feign concern while issuing empty promises in an attempt to politically deflect widespread anger and concerns of residents and workers over at-risk buildings: here.

Communist Claudia’s Caribbean Carnival. PETER FROST remembers communist Claudia Jones — the woman who gave birth to the Notting Hill Carnival: here.

8 thoughts on “London Notting Hill Carnival after Grenfell fire

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