Joyce Fraser Interview

24th June 2022
Joyce Fraser is the chair of The Black Heroes Foundation using the Arts to bring joy telling the stories of Black heroes.

The Story of Claudia Jones, 25 June 2022, 7.30pm — 9.30pm
Battersea Arts Centre

"My late husband Flip Fraser was born and grew up in Jamaica, he came to England when he was 16 years old as his parents were working for the Jamaican High Commission. So, in reality he was a ‘Windrush child.’

I met and fell in love with Flip when I was 26 years old. At the time, he was employed as the editor The Caribbean Times, but was later headhunted to become the first editor of The Voice Newspaper. Which was really exciting as ‘The Voice’ was the first Black owned newspaper which published and represented the views of young black people.

Flip was also very involved and well known in the music industry and for promoting new artists. He would often tell me all the stories about taking reggae records down to Radio One to try to get them air play. He was also instrumental using his position at the newspaper to promote Jamaican artists.

When Flip and I first met, we also talked about the importance of knowing our history. In school, I was only ever taught about slavery in the United States and elsewhere – nothing positive. I was given a book, ‘The World’s Great Men of Colour,’ but I found the style of the writing really impenetrable. So, I gave it to Flip, regrettably we lost touch and we didn’t see each other for almost a decade. Then one day, a cousin said to me, ‘You know Flip’s put this show on? It’s been all over England…’. We went to see it and it blew my mind. The show was ‘Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame,’ and the tagline was ‘5000 years of Black History in one night of theatre’. He was telling us ‘Our Story.’

In 2014, Flip passed away after a period of illness. At his funeral, 100s of people attended and some of the tributes included stories such as, ‘Because of Flip, I’m a nurse’ or ‘I’m a doctor’ or ‘I’m a lawyer’. People were greatly inspired by him, which is the reason we decided to set up the ‘Black Heroes Foundation,’ in his honour. 

The Black Heroes Foundation are putting on two shows at the Wandsworth Fringe. The first is an exhibition telling the story of Flip Fraser. It will focus on his work at The Voice, the show he created and his love of music. We’re hoping to also have some performances of Bob Marley songs, because Flip was a really big fan. The second is a play at the Battersea Arts Centre about the remarkable Claudia Jones. She was born in Trinidad but ended up in America fighting for women’s rights and black rights as a member of the Communist Party. After being imprisoned and deported, she was sent to London where, amongst other things, she put on the first West Indian Carnival in London.

I’m hoping that people learn about Flip and Claudia, along with a bit about the local history of the area and some of the heroes Flip included in his show. I want people to leave feeling excited and energised and, above all, proud of their history.”