Inaugural Windrush Day celebrations take place in Brixton

Crowds gathered in Brixton on Saturday June 23 to celebrate the inaugural Windrush Day on its 70th anniversary.

The event, organised by Black Cultural Archives (BCA), took place on the district’s Windrush Square — an open space which was named in commemoration of the landmark arrival in 1948.

BCA marked the special day with a community affair consisting of music, poetry, arts and crafts and talks.

Brixton sound system One Nation played throughout the duration of the afternoon.

Spoken word artists from Poetic Unity performed thought-provoking work, while children got involved in workshops and face-painting.

Conversation and forums, reflecting on the historical and cultural legacy of Windrush, also took place.

BCA director Paul Reid said: “Today is a combination of a lot of things, for a lot of people who have worked tremendously hard to mark 70 years on from the arrival of this ship – the MV Empire Windrush – together with its passengers, most of whom came from Jamaica.

“As David Lammy would put it, it’s quite a bittersweet moment because there’s a lot happening.

“On the one hand, you have the shredding of landing cards and the big deportation issue that we’re experiencing.”

Referring to the Windrush scandal which has hit headlines in recent months, Mr. Reid said: “A particular community, in many ways, has been targeted and that’s been defined as a Windrush fiasco but, actually, it’s affecting far more than people that came on that ship and the communities from the islands.

“We’re actually talking about a commonwealth issue and that issue sits within a broader context of colonialism and empire,” he added.

Brixton resident and stallholder Ras Levi, who in his 50s, told SW Londoner: “I heard about the Windrush from the elders in the community, when I came to the UK in the mid-1980s. It was not through the media, newspapers, TV or BBC.

“So, events like today are important in raising awareness about Windrush.

“It’s a great day. Not only for the people of the Windrush generation but people living in the UK from different backgrounds and cultures.

“The world needs to know about Windrush. It’s crucial in showing how people, who come from other lands, can develop places and help. In this case, we from the Caribbean came here and made a change in the UK from 1948.

“One of the best things we can give to our children is to teach them about their history and, in fact, give them a sense of identity and values.”

IT technician Jordan Waters, 22, said: “Today’s celebration is a good look.

“As a black British-Caribbean man I have to salute the elders from the Windrush generation who came here, to both build and improve life in the UK, for all of us.

“People like my grandparents were a part of that. The NHS was built on the backs of immigrants.

“It was important that I come down here today, out of respect.”

In addition to announcing an official Windrush day, the government recently announced a £500,000 grant to support commemoration events moving forward.

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