Unique Vibes: Every Wednesday!
It was June 1948 when 1,027 Caribbean migrants from Jamaica, Trinidad, Bermuda and British Guiana arrived in Britain via the Cruise Liner HMT Empire Windrush, they landed at Tilbury Docks in Essex and it marked the beginning of a new life away from the West Indies to post war Britain.
Caribbean migrants were recruited by The British Government who advertised long term job prospects in the Public and Service Sector.
Service men were needed and the new National Health Service needed Nurses, Skilled Workers Engineers for Trains and buses, Carpenters, Service men, Manufacturing and a production of Coal, Iron and Steel and Food Caterers and many more roles were offered to workers that were needed to rebuild Britain.
The British Nationality Act of 1948 granted the status to Caribbean migrants from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean British Citizenship which recognised their rights to work and settle in Britain, that was the first wave of migrants, there was a steady flow of 1000 to 2000 migrants aboard the Empire Windrush until 1952, by 1957 there was 42,000 migrants mainly from the Caribbean working in Britain. From 1948 to 1971 is known as The Windrush Generation. but the history and experiences of Caribbean migrants was extremely difficult, in order to receive better future prospects for their families, it meant leaving all of their loved ones behind in the West Indies to serve Britain, but the biggest shock was receiving a barrage of hateful vibes, with strong levels of ignorance and disrespect for being black, as skin colour was a big issue in Britain at the time.
Back then racist jibes and slurs were written on the walls outside, majority of the white population often insulted black people as they yelled that “They didn’t want foreigners here” and to “Go back to where you came from” with expletives. You couldn’t avoid seeing signs that read: No Blacks! No Irish! No Pets! on the doors and windows outside of restaurants, bars, pubs working men’s club, private jobs, housing and even churches. In 1964 it was legal to refuse business or services to black or Asian people, no one deserved being treated like that.
Related article: How Caribbean Migrates Helped to Rebuild Britain
Caribbean migrants left their loved ones only to be reunited someday, many children travelled from the West Indies to live with their parents in Britain and they settled into their new life, but it also in most cases travelling back to the West Indies took over 20 years, during that times elderly relatives abroad sadly passed away, new families made in Britain and the long, strenuous and challenging life in fast paced Britain meant that waving goodbye to a loved one ended up being a solid goodbye and that in itself is quite a sad thought.
Related article: Windrush Stories
A few of my family members arrived in 1948 to Britain on the Cruise Liner HMT Empire Windrush, my parents were both children living in the West Indies at the time, without going into too much personal details, both my parents who are from the Caribbean had their full British Naturalisation as children in Britain, they were sent for because their parent and close relatives were here, later on in life when my parents met each other, they got married and had my siblings and I, it makes us British Citizens and 1st generations of Caribbean descents, (we are not of the older generation) The Windrush era resonates with me, by watching the Windrush Documentaries that I have added you will see how respectful our Caribbean Migrants were with good values, morals and principles, looking forward to the new adventure that awaited them, but it proved to be a very difficult journey of isolation, ignorance, hostility, racism and sheer rudeness. I admire the bravery, humility and courage shown by our Caribbean migrants, they had the Strength Through Adversity they endured a lot, and I am glad that it will always be remembered that Caribbean Migrants rebuilt Britain post war.
Related article: Why Windrush Day Matters
I heard about the Windrush Day Scandal many black people of Caribbean Descent who had British Naturalisation but never filed the papers back then, were deported back to the Caribbean if they couldn’t provide paperwork to support their case, I found that news extremely shocking, that one decision could ultimately change families life as they had once known it.
Related article: We Must Honour The Legacy Of Windrush Day
How Did Windrush Day Come About?
In 2013 Patrick Vernon petitioned for Windrush Day, fuelled by the Windrush Scandal at the time, after a successful campaign in 2018 it was officially announced that: 22nd June is declared Windrush Day, a date to honour and recognise our Caribbean migrants contributions to Britain.
The commemoration of Windrush Day was Petitioned and Launched by Patrick Vernon.
Patrick Phillip Vernon OBE was born in 1962, he is a Social Commentator, Campaigner and Cultural Historian and Political Activist of Jamaican Heritage.The title (OBE) behind is name which means an Officer of the Order of the British Empire was awarded to Patrick at the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to the Reduction of Health Inequalities for Ethnic Minorities, which is impressive beings he was appointed a Clore Fellowship Leadership Programme, being an expert on African and Caribbean genealogy in the UK, is why we have him to thank for petitioning for the Commemoration of Windrush Day.
Patrick is also the founder of 100 Great Black Britons campaign and every generation, and he also worked on regeneration projects as a Film Maker. Patrick was once a Labour Councillor in the London Borough of Hackney, his role involved developing and managing public and mental health and social care services, he now works in the voluntary and public sector promoting diversity at his social enterprising company.
It is noted in Wikipedia that: Official backing was given when it was subsequently announced by the government that an annual Windrush Day would be celebrated on 22 June, supported by a grant of up to £500,000, to recognise and honour the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants and to “keep their legacy alive for future generations, ensuring that we all celebrate the diversity of Britain’s history.
Windrush Day was introduced in June 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush Migration through Windrush Day is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom, it is an observed day. It was instituted following a successful campaign led by Patrick Vernon
The purpose of Windrush Day is to encourage “communities across the country to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants,” according to the United Kingdom government. “A Windrush Day will allow communities up and down the country to recognise and honour the enormous contribution of those who stepped ashore at Tilbury Docks 70 years ago,” said communities minister Lord Bourne.
On Windrush Day 2021, a Blue Plaque was erected in memory of British immigrant rights activist RIP Paulette Wilson a member of the Windrush Generation, a plaque was launched with campaigners including Patrick Vernon and Claire Clarke well as her family at the Wolverhampton Heritage Centre. The Centre is a cornerstone of the area’s local Caribbean community and was formerly the constituency office of Mr Powell where the infamous Rivers of Blood Speech was written.
Related article: Unique Vibes: Leap of Faith
There is something fresh and crisp about the first hours of a Caribbean day, a happy anticipation that something is about to happen, maybe just up the street or around the next corner. – Hunter S. Thompson
Consuming authentic Caribbean food can be an emotionally moving experience, not only in terms of the euphoria caused by its fresh ingredients, intense flavors, and spicy seasonings, but also in the awareness that diverse groups of people have had to come together in various state of contentment and discontentment in order to produce even just a morsel of a Caribbean meal.– Lynne Marie Houston
There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race…. scientifically, anthropologically. – Toni Morrison
Respect comes in two unchangeable steps: giving it and receiving it. – Edmond Mbiaka
To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try. – Rosa Parks
You can fall, but you can rise also. – Angelique Kidjo
Related article: Still I Rise – By Maya Angelou