The journey of the Empire Windrush that docked in Essex with 1,027 passengers & at least two stowaways on 22nd June 1948 has come to define a whole generation of people who arrived in Britain for two decades from the Caribbean until the 1970s. The 802 Caribbean citizens onboard were the first of 500,000 Commonwealth citizens who settled in Britain having been invited to help rebuild the "mother country". Despite having equal rights to British citizenship most faced discrimination, prejudice and abuse. Many had fought for Britain in the war just years earlier and yet when they arrived were often denied jobs, housing and access to public spaces like pubs and dancehalls. But communities among new settlers thrived, arrivals brought with them a rich heritage that shaped British culture from music and literature to food and sport. Communities pooled their resources to buy houses, set up community centres, services and support networks and fought for the rights they were promised.
In 2018, the rights of the Windrush Generation entered the news again when they and their descendants became the targets of mistreatment by the UK government, resulting in the denial of their rights, deportation threats, and significant harm to their lives and communities. Dan is joined for the 75th anniversary of Windrush Day by Dr Juanita Cox, who is a research fellow on Nationality, Identity and Belonging at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She unravels the long history of the Windrush Generation, their struggles and impact on Britain and the scandal with help from the voices of that generation themselves, recorded as part of her oral history project, ‘The Windrush Scandal in a Transnational and Commonwealth Context‘.
Produced by Mariana Des Forges and edited by Dougal Patmore.