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View From 'The Voice': Memorial was a fitting tribute

RESPECT: Veteran Allan Wilmott, centre, with activist Patrick Vernon (left) and Paul Reid from the Black Cultural Archives

THE CONTRIBUTION of African and Caribbean military servicemen and women during World Wars 1 and 2 was monumental. And it was fitting that last week saw the unveiling of Britain’s first black war memorial in Brixton, south London on Windrush Day.

The memorial is a tribute to those great men and women who fought for freedom and a better world which we live in today. The Nubian Jak Community Trust must be commended for all of their work in getting such a recognisable monument erected in Windrush Square.

Let us now celebrate this singular, auspicious feat without reverting to a default of complacency, because make no mistake, there is more work to be done.

In order to raise greater awareness of the black war effort, we must begin with educating ourselves. A staggeringly high number of our community, particularly generation Y, don’t know our history as much as we should. Why?
There’s no excuse.

There are resources from which we can enhance our knowledge. The Internet is one. We are also fortunate
to have war veterans still among us and institutions such as the Black Cultural Archives. So we should find them, ask questions, read and in turn, pass it on. We have access to platforms such as books and journals where we can document findings – we must temporarily eschew our tradition of oral storytelling and create physical literature which can stand the test of time. This is what Eurocentric historians have done and subsequently the black war effort has come to be deliberately left out of such accounts.

These are just a few ways in which we can challenge an imbalanced establishment.

Every serviceman and servicewoman who made the selfless decision to act, to volunteer, to engage in a gravely precarious battle for the greater good, has a story. The ones who serve today also have a tale.

We all have the capability to tell our tales. The question is, do we have the conviction?

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