ARRIVALS: SS Windrush
NEXT YEAR marks the 70th anniversary of the docking of a ship that sailed from the Caribbean and into the history books to become one of the most powerful and iconic symbols of migration – the SS Empire Windrush.
It was the day that the first wave of almost 500 Caribbean men and women arrived in a Britain broken by the Second World War and in need of help from Commonwealth citizens who were British subjects.
Birmingham is planning to lead the way in marking this momentous day – June 22, 1948 – with a Windrush legacy celebration ball on Saturday June 24, ahead of next year’s landmark date. Organisers are looking for pioneers themselves or relatives of those original pioneers who made the journey across the Atlantic.
There have been calls to make Windrush Day a national holiday to recognise the people, their children and grandchildren who helped create a new concept of what it means to be British. In 2013, a petition was launched, led by politicians, faith groups, academics and artists, calling for an annual celebration of this positive contribution of immigration to Britain.
Arthur Torrington, of the Windrush Foundation, said at the time:
“Those who arrived on the Windrush paved the way for generations of those seeking to make a life in Britain.”
“They came here to work hard, provide for their families and rebuild Britain after the war; a proud tradition that ought to be celebrated.”
Garry Stewart, of Birmingham-based Recognize Black History and Culture, told The Voice:
“It is time that we honoured those first and second generations who had the courage to start a new life in Britain.
“During our special evening, we are planning several presentations and showing historic TV footage of the arrival of the ship at Tilbury.”
“We are hoping to get in contact with any of those original pioneers who are still alive and can remember the experience first-hand.”
The event at the City Banqueting Suite in Moseley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, is expected to attract more than 400 guests who will enjoy a three-course Caribbean meal, along with entertainment and education.
The ball is being launched by:
Vows Community Enterprise: 07534 048 697
Recognize: 07721 583 321
Why Are West Indians (WAWI) project: 07972 367 040
Caribbean Family History Group: 07947 128 846
Kingsway Project: 07903 469 025
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