Chris Jones [Chris Braithwaite]

All revolutionary workers will share in our sorrow at the death of our militant fellow worker Chris Jones. He was well known in the North and especially in South Wales, and during the last few years, in London. The best coloured open-air speaker, he drew large crowds at the Docks among his mates. Being one of them, he spoke to them in their own tongue, and knowing their strength and their weaknesses, he knew just what points to make. The docker of to-day is very largely a disillusioned man; tricked and cheated so often by politicians and labour skates, he mistrusts the glib promisers who seek to get on his back. He is loyal to his own mates, and is capable of any sacrifice for solidarity. Chris Jones worked with them, took the same risks and paid the same dues. Always ready to fight their battles, his colour made no difference. His long and varied experience as a seaman enabled him to speak with authority of the conditions of the workers in all parts of the world. Those of us who can remember him speaking at the Freedom Press meeting on India in the autumn of 1942 will never forget his description of the women of India who worked in the mines and on the docks. In terse, biting phrases he told of how the mothers soaked rags in opium for the babies to suck to still their hunger. 

Chris Jones left his home in the West Indies quite young and followed the sea. He saw capitalism at work under all conditions, and it aroused all his native antagonism to injustice and poverty. His was not an attitude of mere negative antagonism to injustice and poverty. His was not an attitude of mere negative rebelliousness; he knew and always made it clear that there was no hope under capitalism; only by the overthrow of the present system could the emancipation of the workers be achieved, and that could only be done by the workers themselves. 

His work amongst his coloured comrades made him loved and respected by them all, for these the true spirit of Internationalism shone out. His death is a great loss for the militant labour movement. His life is an inspiration and a spur to more energetic action, for he was a fore-runner of the coloured workers who are finding their places in the International working class. The crisis is approaching; we must be ready for it, must take up the cudgels dropped by our comrades in the struggle. They have not fought in vain, there are willing hands to fight and keep alive the memory of the heroes fallen in the fight. 


Chris Braithwaite (aka ‘Chris Jones’) ‘was a black Barbadian seaman who became a leading organiser of colonial seamen in inter-war Britain.  He played a critical role in the Pan-Africanist and wider anti-colonial movement alongside figures such as C.L.R. James and George Padmore.’ See the website of Christian Høgsbjerg, author of a biography of Braithwaite: Chris Braithwaite: Mariner, Renegade and Castaway

From: War Commentary (October 1944).