If you’re going to Notting Hill Carnival, you need to read this 

If you’re going to Notting Hill Carnival, you need to read this 

by Ollie Cox
3 min

Next week on Sunday 27 and Monday 28, London will play host to Notting Hill Carnival. But don’t get it twisted. Carni isn’t just a party and serves a much deeper purpose. 

In 1959, Kelso Cochrane, a 32-year-old Antiguan-born carpenter and aspiring lawyer who lived in Notting Hill, was murdered in a racially motivated attack. The incident took place on Southam Street, (just off Golborne Road). The site is now marked with a commemorative plaque. 

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The event’s impact was felt across the community, severely damaging race relations. Cochrane’s funeral was reportedly attended by over 1200 people in a show of solidarity, and the case remains unsolved to this day. 

Following the tragedy, activities began to take place to ease race relations in the capital. Rhaune Laslett, a Notting Hill resident and community activist, organised a children’s street fayre. According to Notting Hill Carnival, she is reported to have said: “We felt that although West Indians, Africans, Irish, and many other nationalities all live in a congested area, there is very little communication between us. If we can infect them with a desire to participate, then this can only have good results.” 

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The children’s street party was a crucial piece of community activism that would later blossom into Notting Hill Carnival. In the same year, Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian human rights activist based in London, held a Caribbean Carnival at St Pancras Town Hall back in 1959. She is widely credited with planting the seeds for Carnival in Britain. 

These building blocks laid the foundations for the second-largest Carnival in the world. In 1966 the Caribbean and West Indian community of Notting Hill came together, with steel bands and dancers taking to the streets in a show of solidarity. Now, Carnival attracts 2 million attendees from around the world and is welcomed by Londoners each year. Between the parades and sound systems, great food and good vibes, Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of cultural unity for the people. 

@minarohani_ ©

Notting Hill Carnival has turned tragedy into triumph through community activism. We can’t wait for this year, what about you? 

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