Dreams and courage of Windrush generation honoured with new statue

·3-min read
The Windrush brought the first immigrants from the Caribbean to the UK (PA) (PA Archive)
The Windrush brought the first immigrants from the Caribbean to the UK (PA) (PA Archive)

A national monument will be unveiled in one of London’s biggest train stations to pay tribute to the “dreams, ambition, courage and resilience” of the Windrush generation.

The statue – of a man, woman and child in their Sunday best standing on top of suitcases, will be revealed at Waterloo Station on Wednesday to mark Windrush Day.

It was designed by the Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson, who said he was “truly honoured” to have been chosen when the Government shared details of the monument last October.

The Government, which has provided £1 million in funding for the project, said it will “create a permanent place of reflection and inspiration and be a visible statement of our shared history and heritage”.

The Windrush brought the first immigrants to the UK from the Caribbean (PA) (PA Archive)
The Windrush brought the first immigrants to the UK from the Caribbean (PA) (PA Archive)

It comes as famous faces including actor Lenny Henry, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, broadcaster Trevor Phillips, historian David Olusoga and cross-party politicians called for Windrush Day 2023 to be a “major national moment”.

Next year marks 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.

More than 100 leaders from politics, faith and civil society, sport, culture and business have signed a joint letter, published in The Times newspaper, starting the one-year countdown to the milestone.

They write: “This is not only black History – it is British history. It should be something we all know and commemorate.

“We call on the Government and all UK institutions, from politics to civil society, faith, culture, business and sport, to step up and fully play their part next year.”

The arrival of the Windrush in 1948 has come to symbolise how Britain’s past has shaped the society we live in today

Sunder Katwala, British Future

Sunder Katwala, director of independent think tank British Future, said: “The arrival of the Windrush in 1948 has come to symbolise how Britain’s past has shaped the society we live in today.

“The 75th anniversary is a chance to mark that important historic moment and also to chart the future we will share together.”

Patrick Vernon, convenor of the Windrush 75 network, set up to co-ordinate efforts over the next 12 months, added: “It’s something we should commemorate as a major event and a piece of our history that every child should learn about at school.

“It is something every institution should be marking in a significant way.”

Research commissioned for the network and think tank to mark Windrush Day found that 64% of the public thinks children should be taught about Windrush to help understand Britain’s history of empire and its diverse society.

Just 9% of people disagreed, according to the survey of 2,006 British adults by Focaldata between February 28 and March 7.

Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said they are familiar with the story of the Windrush, while 46% said they would like to know more about it.

It comes as separate polling released on Windrush Day found that 70% of British adults from an ethnic minority background think racist beliefs are widely held in society.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of ethnic minority respondents said they had experienced discrimination, down from 73% in 2020. And 42% said they had experienced abuse, down from 52% the previous year.

The survey found that “Kiddigrants” – the children of immigrants – are more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to those born outside the UK (74% versus 55%).

Almost three-quarters (73%) of kiddigrants think racist discrimination is common in the UK, compared to 60% of those born abroad.

The study was carried out by the market research agency Opinium and reboot, a voluntary-led campaign group which seeks to promote greater ethnic diversity within the workplace.

The findings are based on an online survey of 2,000 UK adults and an online survey of 2,000 people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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