The Gleaner | Celebrate Windrush 75 and address inequalities, say campaigners

The Gleaner | Celebrate Windrush 75 and address inequalities, say campaigners


This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush which brought the first wave of Caribbean immigrants to Britain and already activists, campaigners and event organisers are calling it the last real opportunity to recognise the achievements of those first generation settlers.

Previous milestone years have been celebrated with various events including the 65th anniversary in 2013 which recreated a Windrush boat ride along the Thames and celebratory dinner at Tilbury Docks where the Empire Windrush had arrived in 1948. The 70th anniversary in 2018 had a national thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey and the declaration of National Windrush Day on June 22.

For this year’s celebrations, Windrush 75 Network convenor Patrick Vernon is calling for a national celebration similar to the Queen’s diamond jubilee to recognise the struggles, contributions and legacy of four generations of Caribbean people in Britain.

He said: “The 75th anniversary will be the last significant chance to celebrate the Windrush people while they are still with us. With my own parents, who came from the Caribbean in the 1950s – my father is 91 while my mother is in her 80s. By the time we reach the 80th or the 85th anniversary most of the generation will no longer be here, so it’s very important to acknowledge and thank those members of the generation up and down the country while we can.

“On top of the community events that people are already organising around the country, there should be some significant major events which bring the whole country together like those in the 2012 diamond jubilee for the late Queen Elizabeth II, which included street parties and a concert outside Buckingham Palace.

“We are telling people that this is coming your way and inviting communities, the corporate world, the public sector and all aspects of British society to recognise this history and contribution. The BBC and other major broadcasters should also acknowledge the history and contribution as they did during the diamond jubilee celebrations,” Vernon said.

While some recognition have been given among them the National Windrush Day and the establishment of the Windrush Monument in Waterloo Station, Vernon thinks there is still more than can be done to celebrate the generation.

He said: “We want to say we will never forget their sacrifices and their contributions to all aspects of British society. Some have been recognised through the honours lists and in other ways, but not many of them have had the recognition and acknowledgement they deserve.”


Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, chair of the Windrush National Organisation in Birmingham, is also in support of marking the 75th anniversary as a very significant celebration this year.He said: “This milestone year must be a time to give thanks for the contribution of the Windrush generation in the rebuilding of Britain and also for the country to properly embrace the contributions of the Commonwealth citizens that made the journey here at their own expense into an unwelcoming atmosphere.

“These celebratory events should be of national proportion, while also seeking to level the playing field of inequality faced by the Windrush generation and their descendants which they have endured over the years.

“Now is the time, following the fallout from the Windrush scandal, for us to structure ourselves as a community politically, socially, economically and the importance of becoming self-sufficient.

“Being structured will mean that any government of the day or political party will have to take us seriously as a people when we seek to level the playing field of inequality while seeking redress for the Windrush scandal and beyond.

“While the Windrush scandal does not define who we are as a people and our rich value to the rebuilding of the United Kingdom, it does highlight the discrimination that the Windrush generation faced and continue to face until this day. It is essential that we seek and take action to level the playing field of inequalities in terms of the criminal justice system, employment, health and well-being and the list goes on.

“Therefore while we all will be arranging events for Windrush 75, let us not forget the contribution of the Windrush generation isn’t just about one day, it’s about a lifetime and generations past and into the future.”

The Windrush 75 Network held a number of in-person and online sessions over the last 12 months to coordinate and encourage participation in this year’s celebrations. The full list of activities can be found at