George Padmore September 1944

Chris Jones: Fighter for the Oppressed

Source: New Leader, 23 September 1944.
Transcribed: by Christian Hogsbjerg, with thanks to Marika Sherwood.

Left-wingers, especially members of the I.L.P., have heard with deep regret of the sudden passing of our esteemed comrade, Chris Jones [Chris Braithwaite — CH] on September 9th. His death is a great loss to the cause of the colonial peoples as well as International Socialism, the finest ideals and traditions of which he upheld to the very end.

Chris was born in Barbados, in the West Indies, 59 years ago, and started to go to sea at a very early age. As a seaman he had the opportunity to travel round the world. The world was thus his university, and what an education it provided him! It was always a pleasure to hear Chris, who was of a most gay and youthful temperament, relate his many sailor’s yarns, and, in his more serious moments, to listen to him describing the conditions of the working-class in the various lands it was his good fortune to visit.

After the last war Chris settled down in London as an employee of the Shipping Federation, and since then he had always taken an active part in the working-class struggles of this country, especially those affecting seamen — white as well as coloured. He was a member of the Seamen’s Union, and every progressive movement concerned with the welfare of seagoing folk had his support.

I first met Chris about ten years ago. It was on the occasion of the mass meeting organised in London on behalf of the Scottsboro’ boys, eight Negro youths who were being railroaded to death by American “justice.” We were both speakers at that meeting, and from then a warm comradeship developed between us. Chris’s participation in the endeavour to seek true justice for those Scottsboro’ victims of class and race prejudice was typical of him.

He never spared himself in rendering aid to the cause of the oppressed. Many were the working-class battles and campaigns in which he gave his best. He was well known in I.L.P. circles as a fine speaker and agitator, and one of the foremost champions of the coloured race. Chris was a member of the Executive Committee of the International African Service Bureau, the Negro Welfare Association, and several over progressive organisations working on behalf of the Negro peoples.

His death is a great loss, and his memory will long remain as a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of his race. To his wife and six children we extend our deepest sympathies.