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802 West Indian migrants stepped off the HMT Empire Windrush at the Port of Tilbury on 22 June 1948, the first of what became known as the Windrush Generation in Britain and the birth of the UK’s modern multiracial society.
Fuelled in part by British government campaigns to address domestic labour shortages, nearly 500 million people moved from the Caribbean to Britain in the following two decades. Nonetheless, issues stemming from societal racism including systemic disadvantages in employment, housing and education – leading up to the 2018 Windrush scandal – remain a key factor in the legacy of Windrush.
Today, Waltham Forest’s 25,000 strong Afro-Caribbean community make up a vibrant and valuable part of our cultural fabric. As Windrush’s 75th anniversary nears in 2023, we look to the legacy of the Windrush Generation which will surely loom large in Waltham Forest for many years to come.
This year’s Windrush Day festivities will see a full programme of partner-led events and activities take place across the borough in honour of the Windrush generation and the Afro-Caribbean community in Waltham Forest. The full programme will continue through to Black History Month in October this year, with community groups, museums, libraries and local schools at the very heart of operations.
Starting with Windrush Day Flag Raising Ceremony, we are partnering with a host of local community groups to deliver a five-month programme of events and activities in honour of the Windrush Generation.
The very first Waltham Forest Windrush Festival will showcase the very best in Afro Caribbean music, food, art and history across multiple venues in the borough. The William Morris Gallery will also be running special curator tours of the Althea McNish: Colour is Mine exhibition.
As part of the festival author and educator Peter Ashan will be leading a Windrush Freedom Walk from The Clock House Wood Street at 10am, while St Peter-in-the-Forest will be screening Phoenix Dance Theatre's performance of Sharon Watson’s Windrush: Movement of the People. St Peters will also host former Church of England National Adviser on Race and Ethnicity, Dr Elizabeth Henry's Zoom talk on the history of race and racism in the Church of England before and after Windrush on Friday 24 June.