22 June marks Windrush Day 2020 and is a time to honour and celebrate the Caribbean men and women who traveled from Jamaica to the UK on the Empire Windrush in 1948, to help rebuild post-war Britain.
These people, now known as the Windrush generation, hoped for the chance to build new lives for themselves in the UK, however they were met with racist hostility.
In 2018, the UK government demanded members of the Windrush generation and their families had to prove their British citizenship, despite having permanently settled many decades ago. A number of people were wrongly detained, threatened with deportation and, in at least 83 cases, deported due to this policy, which has since been called out as a scandal.
This Windrush Day and beyond, we need to collectively honour the stories of the Windrush generation, their many contributions and their experiences in Britain from that first arrival to the modern day. We've rounded-up a list of important learning resources to help you do just that, from TV shows, films and documentaries to books. By educating yourself on this important element of British history you can take the step to better understanding the issues faced by the Windrush generation and use this knowledge to push for positive change, teaching others along the way.
TV and film
Sitting in Limbo
BBC One's feature-length TV drama Sitting in Limbo is inspired by the Windrush scandal of 2018 and portrays the shocking truth of what many people experienced. The film is based on the true story of Anthony Bryan who, after 50 years in the UK, was wrongly detained by the Home Office with the possibility of being deported.
Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle
This eight-episode series aired on BBC Four in 2019. Each episode is a monologue from a different character that reveals “the hopes, desires, achievements, shattered dreams and broken promises” of a fictional family over four generations, who came to the UK on the Empire Windrush.
Passages: A Windrush Celebration
To mark 70 years since the arrival of the Empire Windrush in Britain, this series of seven short monologue films was presented by the Royal Court Theatre in 2019 and is available to watch online. Written by a group of British playwrights whose family originated from West Indies, each film explores the British West Indian experience across generations.
This four-part series was originally broadcast by BBC in 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush in Britain. It was accompanied by the book Windrush: The Irresistible Rise Of Multi-Racial Britain by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips and won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Documentary in 1999.
The Unwanted: The Secret Windrush Files
British historian David Olusoga looks back back at the 2018 scandal, when the UK government asked the Windrush generation and their families to prove they were British citizens or risk deportation. David looks into government files that open up the history behind the Windrush scandal.
The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon
An iconic novel about the Windrush generation experience, The Lonely Londoners follows Moses as he takes the number 46 bus to Waterloo to meet the new arrivals who he will guide through London life.
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Small Island is an award-winning novel written by Andrea Levy, whose father travelled to England on the Windrush ship. The story follows the lives of four people, an English woman Queenie and her husband Bernard who rent a room to Gilbert after his arrival on the Empire Windrush, later joined by his wife Hortense. It's a story about the couple adjusting to life in England, the racism they faced and their resilience to build up their new dreams in the UK.
A theatre adaptation of Small Island is also available to watch on the National Theatre YouTube channel now.
The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment by Amelia Gentleman
Amelia Gentleman led the Guardian's investigative report into the impact of the Conservative government’s 'hostile environment' policy on the Windrush generation and their descendants. This book is her account of the investigation and a fascinating insight into what led to calls for an end to this government policy and national scandal.
The Story of Windrush by K.N.Chimbiri
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A children's book that will help you open up a conversation about the Windrush generation with your little ones. The book celebrates the legacy of those who boarded the Empire Windrush, focusing on their inspiring story before the scandal in an easy-to-read and engaging way that's perfect for kids.
Organisations have been set up to honour the Windrush generation and provide a wealth of resources to help educate us on what happened, and understand the experiences past and present of those who arrived on the Empire Windrush.
The Windrush Foundation, a charity that works on heritage projects highlighting African and Caribbean peoples' contribution to the UK, and The British Library have resource websites that can help you to learn more.
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