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Today, Morley commemorates Windrush Day, and in doing so celebrates the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants to the diversity of our communities north and south of the Thames.
After the Second World War, the United Kingdom’s economy was in desperate need of repair and reinvention, including staffing the new National Health Service. On 22 June 1948, hundreds of Caribbean people were brought to Tilbury Docks, Essex, in the UK, on the Empire Windrush ship to support this effort.
But many Afro-Caribbean people were faced with extreme intolerance from the majority of the white population and – despite being encouraged to settle in the UK and take up employment to relieve the labour market by the authorities – many early immigrants were denied access to private employment and accommodation because of the colour of their skin. Black people were also banned from many pubs, clubs, and even churches.
View the video below to listen in to part of a conversation in a GCSE English class at North Kensington about the significance of the arrival of the Windrush to British shores in 1948.
To find out more about the courses Morley offers in essential skills – including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) – please visit this page.
Morley Gallery, which launched the inaugural Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour earlier this year, has published a statement by prize judge and author Louise Hare.
Louise is the author of the novel This Lovely City, which “charts the course of a jazz musician, newly arrived in London on the Empire Windrush, and the opportunity, excitement, prejudice and love he finds in the dizzying metropolis”. It is a narrative of this generation, and is both an example of the type of literature the Prize was created to promote, and a reflection on the spirit of adventure, bravery and endurance that the Windrush passengers brought with them and preserved in the generations who followed them.
“It took seventy years to establish an official Windrush Day. Its purpose is to allow us time to celebrate those who came before us, who fought for equal rights and whose mantle we can now take up. I’m proud that my novel might make a few people sit up and take notice of the world around them. There is a larger debate ongoing about how to decolonise the curriculum in our schools. For now, we must do all we can to celebrate the achievements of our Black British communities and to fight for fair treatment and resolutions for those still caught up in the Windrush scandal.”Louise Hare, author: “This Lovely City”