Easter Sunday (top-bottom)

  1. Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
  2. Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
  3. Harlem 1943 by Weegee
  4. South Side, Chicago 1941 by Russell Lee
  5. South Side, Chicago 1941 by Russell Lee
  6. Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
  7. South Side, Chicago,. 1941 by Edwin Rosskam
  8. Harlem 1940 by Weegee
  9. Harlem 1955 by William Klein
  10. Harlem (W. 117th St. and Seventh Ave) 1939
spiritsdancinginthenight

Competitors for the Carnival Queen title rehearsing at Holborn Hall, Gray’s Inn Road, London. 
The first Caribbean Carnival  (the precursor to Notting Hill Carnival) was held in St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959.


Contenders for the role of Carnival Queen rehearsing for the first Caribbean Carnival, London, January 1959. Photographer Chris Ware.
Faye Sparkes was crowned “Carnival Queen” and won a trip to carnival in Trinidad the following year. 
There were 12 contestants, all from the UK’s West Indian community - 6 Jamaicans, 6 Trinidadians, 1 from British Guiana and 1 Vincentian.  From left to right, Fay Craig, Faye Sparkes, Charmain Ourre, Shirley Robinson, June Allison Bailey, Beryl Cunningham, Ronia Richards, Carlita Callymore, Monica Dwyer and Terez Wiggins.
The beauty contest was championed by Claudia Jones, a leading Black political activist, founder and editor of the West Indian Gazette, and ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’. Claudia Jones was also a supporter of beauty and hairdressing salons run by West Indian women and insisted that the West India Gazette carry beauty tips as way to communicate to a female audience the goals of Black self-realisation and valuing Black women’s beauty.
"this was before the Black Power Days. This was well before we all knew that we were beautiful. We might not have know it, but she knew, and she started this beauty contest." - Corinne Skinner Carter

Competitors for the Carnival Queen title rehearsing at Holborn Hall, Gray’s Inn Road, London.

The first Caribbean Carnival  (the precursor to Notting Hill Carnival) was held in St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959.

Contenders for the role of Carnival Queen rehearsing for the first Caribbean Carnival, London, January 1959. Photographer Chris Ware.

Faye Sparkes was crowned “Carnival Queen” and won a trip to carnival in Trinidad the following year. 

There were 12 contestants, all from the UK’s West Indian community - 6 Jamaicans, 6 Trinidadians, 1 from British Guiana and 1 Vincentian.  From left to right, Fay Craig, Faye Sparkes, Charmain Ourre, Shirley Robinson, June Allison Bailey, Beryl Cunningham, Ronia Richards, Carlita Callymore, Monica Dwyer and Terez Wiggins.

The beauty contest was championed by Claudia Jones, a leading Black political activist, founder and editor of the West Indian Gazette, and ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’. Claudia Jones was also a supporter of beauty and hairdressing salons run by West Indian women and insisted that the West India Gazette carry beauty tips as way to communicate to a female audience the goals of Black self-realisation and valuing Black women’s beauty.

"this was before the Black Power Days. This was well before we all knew that we were beautiful. We might not have know it, but she knew, and she started this beauty contest." - Corinne Skinner Carter

Imagining Caribbean Womanhood: Race, Nation and Beauty Competitions, 1929–70
by Rochelle Rowe [twitter]

Imagining Caribbean Womanhood examines the links between beauty and politics in the Anglophone Caribbean, providing a first cultural history of Caribbean beauty competitions, spanning from Kingston to London. Rochelle Rowe traces the origins and transformation of female beauty contests in the British Caribbean from 1929 to 1970.”
Table of Contents

Queen of the Virgins: Pageantry and Black Womanhood in the Caribbean
By M. Cynthia Olive

"Beauty pageants are wildly popular in the U.S. Virgin Islands, outnumbering any other single performance event. Queen of the Virgins: Pageantry and Black Womanhood in the Caribbean is a comprehensive look at the centuries-old tradition. Mapping the trajectory of pageantry from its colonial precursors at tea meetings, dance dramas to its current incarnation as the ‘queen show.’” 
Table of Contents

Ain’t I a Beauty Queen?: Black Women, Beauty, and the Politics of Race
By Maxine Leeds Craig

Tracing the story to 1891, when a black newspaper launched a contest to find the most beautiful woman of the race, Ain’t I A Beauty Queen documents how black women have negotiated the intersection of race, class, politics, and personal appearance in their lives. Maxine Craig takes the reader from beauty parlors in the 1940s to late night political meetings in the 1960s.” 
Table of Contents

Some much needed Thursday night eye candy
I do love a man in uniform

More about these gorgeous airmen, lawyers and diplomats below.

—-

Pilot Officer John Henry Smythe, QC, OBE
1915–1996

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone Smythe volunteered for the RAF as a navigator. On the night of 18 November 1943  his plane was shot down over Germany on his 28th mission. He spent 18 months in a Prisoner of War camp before being liberated by the Soviet Red Army. Smythe helped other prisoners try to escape but did not try to break out himself. He said, ‘I don’t think a six-foot-five black man would’ve got very far in Pomerania.’

After the war Smythe worked in the Colonial Office and in 1948 travelled with Empire Windrush to bring 500 West Indian ex-servicemen and workers to UK. He was called to the Bar in 1951 and later returned to Sierra Leone, where he continued his law career. He was appointed as the country’s Attorney-General and received an OBE in 1978. 

Squadron Leader Phillip Louis Ulric Cross, DSO, DFC 
1917-2013

Cross, who joined the RAF aged 24, flew as part of legendary 139 Pathfinder Squadron of RAF Bomber Command. He was the only West Indian in his squadron and thought to be the highest ranking West Indian World War II serviceman.

Cross later became Attorney General of Cameroon, and an esteemed judge in Ghana and Tanzania. After his return to Trinidad he served as a High Court Judge and from 1979 as a member of the Court of Appeal. In 1990 he became High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago to the UK and Ambassador to Germany and France.

Known as the “Black Hornet”, he was the inspiration for 2002 best selling novel "Hornet’s Flight".

Flight Lieutenant the  Rt. Hon, Dudley J. Thompson, OC, QC
1917-2012

Motivated to volunteer after reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Thompson flew over enemy territory as a member of a Lancaster Bomber’s aircrew. After the war he an organiser of the 1945 Pan African Conference in Manchester, while still wearing in the uniform of a RAF Flight Lieutenant.

A Pan-Africanist and friend and colleague of George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, C.L.R. James, Julius Nyerre and M.K.O. Abiola. He assembled the international legal team that defended Jomo Kenyatta in his trial after he had been seized by the British colonialists in 1952 and charged with treason, accused of being an instigator of the Mau Mau rebellion. 

Thompson played an vital role in the independence movement of both Belize and Bahamas, as well as holding various Cabinet posts in his native Jamaica. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica, Jamaica’s most prestigious decorations, for distinguished service in the field of International Affairs and his contribution to the legal developments in Jamaica.