Windrush Day 2020: Know History, Meaning, Significance of Windrush Day, Dates, Ways to celebrate

Windrush day 2020: Windrush Day is observed on 22 June in the UK to mark the event when hundreds of people migrated from the Caribbean to start anew in Britain. Read on to know more about the History, Dates, Windrush Generation, Significance of the day, Ways to celebrate the occasion.

Updated: Jun 09, 2020 18:10 IST

Windrush Day 2020: Know History, Meaning, Significance of Windrush Day, Dates, Ways to celebrate

Suganya Vedham

What is Windrush Day?

Windrush Day was first introduced in June 2018 which was also the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration. It was recognized through the efforts of  Patrick Vernon who ran a successful campaign to demand the government’s attention. It is an observed day in the United Kingdom and is not treated as a bank holiday.

Who is Patrick Vernon?

Patrick Vernon was one of the first voices that called for commemorating "Windrush Day", as a means of recognizing the contribution of migrants to UK society. It was to be observed on the same day that the first large group of post-war migrants arrived from the West Indies. Vernon’s petition was launched in 2013. He campaigned widely at the time of the Windrush Scandal in 2018. Subsequently, the government announced its support by facilitating the annual Windrush Day that would be celebrated on 22 June. A grant of up to £500,000 was instituted to honour contributions of the Windrush Generation, their descendants, and to keep alive their legacy for posterity while celebrating the diversity of Britain's history.

What is the History of Windrush Day?

Caribbean people who were a part of the British armed forces were encouraged to sail to work in Britain. This was because large parts of the UK had to be rebuilt in the aftermath of the Second World War. Some of the people came to find jobs, while others wished to experience life in a new place by travelling overseas.

Most of those who decided to move was transported by a ship named HMT Empire Windrush. The ship reached Tilbury Docks, Essex on 21 June 1948. The ship brought with it  492 passengers - many who were children. Its passengers deboarded on June 22. In the years that followed, more people moved to Britain. The estimate is that 500,000 people living in the UK belong to the Windrush generation.

This number includes those who entered Britain between 1948 and 1971 and also their families. Those people h were not treated very well in the new country, although they had come with the hopes of a better life. Racism and discrimination was a common experience for them and hence the migrants had to struggle to settle in. They were also targeted at schools because of their different looks and found it difficult to find proper homes.

What is the Windrush Scandal about?

The government was heavily criticized in 2018 as it deemed some members of the Windrush generation living in Britain illegally.
Most of these people had a life and career in  Britain, but changes to the law necessitated them to have certain documents so that they could access services like healthcare. Those who failed to provide these documents were kept in immigration detention centres and others were forced to exit Britain. After a review of almost 12,000 cases, it was understood that many people were probably detained wrongfully and deported unnecessarily. Some of them received apology letters from the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

What is the Significance of  Windrush Generation?

Those people who migrated from Caribbean countries to the UK between 1948 and 1971 have been called the Windrush generation. It is not clear how many people exactly belong to the Windrush generation, as many of those who arrived as children were travelling on their parents' passports and had never applied for travel documents. It is estimated that they are in thousands. The influx of migrants ended with the 1971 Immigration Act that was passed by the British Parliament, which gave Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK  indefinite leave to remain. Following this, a British passport-holder born overseas could settle in the UK only if they had a ready work permit and, secondly, could show proof  that they had a parent or grandparent who had been born in the UK.

How is Windrush Day celebrated?

2020 marks 72 years since the mass migration. In 2019 The government had decided to allocate £500,000 annually to groups and local authorities for the purpose of celebrating  Windrush Day. The focus would be educating communities about the life of the Windrush generation. Many events took place across the UK which included exhibitions, workshops, festivals, and other public activities. It was announced that a special Windrush statue which honoured the tremendous contribution of the Windrush generation would be built.
An exhibition focused on the works by photographer Harry Jacobs, who captured portraits of Caribbean families arriving in London in the 1950s. These were exhibited in Brixton, south-east London.

Windrush Day Special Quotes 

American actress who is marrying a member of the Royal family will be fast-tracked British citizenship. Yet the Windrush generation invited here and born in the British Empire are being hounded out. Imperialism for you. - Fuad Alakbarov, Exodus

It is time we recognized the huge contribution that migration has made to the economic growth of this country. - Jeremy Corbyn

My African roots made me what I am today. They’re the reason I’m from the Dominican Republic. They’re the reason I exist at all. To these roots I owe everything. - Junot Díaz

The experience of slavery is the bedrock on which Caribbean society has been founded. - Sharon Hurley Hall, Exploring Shadeism

For isn't it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime? - Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

My heart was burning for home. For a moment I felt like crying out, but at the moment of greater pain my mother's voice came back to me. It was as if she was here and talking, Stay and take an education, boy. Take it in, That's the main thing. - Michael Anthony, The Year in San Fernando

Windrush Day - 2020

1. What countries did the Windrush generation come from?

After World War II, many African-Caribbean people migrated to North America and Europe, from the Caribbean region that included countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama.

2. Who benefited from the Windrush Scheme?

Other than those of the Windrush generation, more than  450 Indians had their citizenship confirmed the British government under the 'Windrush Scheme' that was set up in the wake of an infamous immigration scandal in 2018.

3. Are they here legally?

The Home Office did not maintain records of those granted leave to remain nor did they do paperwork confirming it. This made it difficult for the Windrush generation to prove they were in the UK legally. In 2010, the landing cards that belonged to the Windrush migrants were destroyed by the Home Office.

4. What problems did the Windrush generation face?

The Windrush scandal was a 2018 British political scandal concerning people who were mistreated or deported as they were believed to be illegal immigrants. These people also face the evils of racism and discrimination due to their roots.

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