Today is a celebratory day, and it should be recognised as that. Happy Windrush day! It isn’t something that has been celebrated or acknowledged in recent history. First introduced on the 22nd June 2018 after a successful campaign by Patrick Vernon, it is not a bank holiday but instead an observed day.
Today we celebrate the Caribbean community and the contribution that they made to post World War Two England. The Second World War left a void in many areas of the economy. A call was made to the commonwealth citizens to help rebuild the community and adverts placed around the Caribbean islands was answered by many.
The first of which (802 migrants) came over on 22nd June 1948 on the HMT Empire Windrush. I don’t want to make this post about the scandal, you may read about that over in my article A racist country, led by a racist prime minister: WINDRUSH SCANDAL PART 1. Part 2, coming soon.
As mentioned before. My mother was a Windrush child. My grandfather came over first, worked hard and eventually sent for my mother and my great-grandmother (his mother).
She came over with her grandmother and some of her cousins. She barely spoke English when she arrived, faced bullying, harassment and extreme racism, something I grew up hearing stories of.
My father came over after immigration adjustments were made to curb in the influx of commonwealth citizens to the UK, on a student visa. He studied at University to become a nurse. He was still training when he met my mother, who had not yet embarked on her own NHS career and was working as a clerk typist for a travel agency in London. They met at All Nations nightclub on the 16th April 1977. The rest, as they say, is history.
My parents have spent over 70 years combined, working for the NHS. But that was not the only area that migrants from the commonwealth came and worked in. During the war ‘thousands of Caribbean men and women had been recruited to serve in the armed forces.’ You can learn more about this by heading over to Black Poppy Rose
Post-War Britain found plenty of work within various industries, not just the National Health Service but also British Rail etc.
Like my mother, although encouraged to come to the UK with immigration campaigns by the government, many were subjected to great prejudice and extreme racism. The 1958 attacks in Notting Hill London, led to the first Caribbean Carnival on the 30th January 1959. A celebration of what is it to be Caribbean, and what would later become the Notting Hill Carnival that still carries on today.
So today I would like to show my own gratitude and appreciation for the Windrush generation, the sacrifices they made and the hardships they went through while assisting post-war Britain.
HAPPY WINDRUSH DAY!!!