Caribbean-Born Founder Of Europe’s Biggest Carnival Is Dead

Jamaican-born Sam King was founder of the Nottinghill Carnival.
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Jamaican-born Sam King was founder of the Notting Hill Carnival.

By NAN Contributor

News Americas, LONDON, England, Thurs. June 23, 2016: The man who founded the street festival that has today become Europe’s biggest street party, is dead.

Jamaican Sam King MBE, who migrated to Britain on the SS Windrush in 1948, died on Saturday, June 18th. He was 90.

King founded the legendary Caribbean street festival in 1964 which grew into Notting Hill Carnival – Europe’s biggest street party. He was also an active member of the Labour party  and was later elected mayor of  Southwark in 1983, becoming its first black mayor.

The London Borough of Southwark  is in south London, England and forms part of Inner London. Southwark is ethnically 63 percent white, 16 percent black African and 8 percent black Caribbean.

King was born in Portland, Jamaica in 1926 and fought in World War II. Following the war he returned to Jamaica, but unhappy with life in the West Indies, he bought a passage on the Empire Windrush and returned to London where he rejoined the RAF and eventually worked for the Royal Mail as a post man for 34 years.

King was also involved in several other projects: he was a driving force behind Britain’s first black newspaper The West Indian Gazette; he started up a black gospel radio station in Brixton; and he was director of the Windrush Foundation, which campaigns to preserve the history of the arrival of the Windrush settlers and celebrate their contribution to British life.

In 1998 and as part of the 50th anniversary of the Windrush, King received his MBE.

His passing has been hailed by many British politicians.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said King had “changed the face of London for the better.”

“He was man who arrived on the Windrush and started working like many Jamaicans did in the area and then decided something had to be done good for the community in terms of carnival,” he said. “What a legend, what a loss. He educated Londoners with Caribbean food, Caribbean culture, Caribbean music.”

Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, remembered King as a “wonderful man.”

“RIP Sam King MBE. Wonderful man. Today Southwark mourns – but Southwark is proud,” Harman tweeted.

Southwark councillor Michael Situ posted on Twitter that the second world war veteran was “principled, inspiring and always willing to serve.”

King was predeceased by his first wife Mavis and is survived by his second wife, Mertle.




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