Windrush Day 2022: why it’s more important than ever to celebrate the Windrush generation

Windrush Day 2022: why it’s more important than ever to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation

As immigration rights continue to be attacked, it’s never been more poignant to reflect on the contributions of the Windrush generation on Windrush Day 2022.

Today (22 June) marks the fourth annual National Windrush Day, 73 years after the HMT Empire Windrush docked in the UK on 22 June 1948.

Marking the occasion, Prince William today unveiled a memorial statue by Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson at Waterloo station, commenting: “I understand how much we owe to these men and women.”

The ship was carrying 1,027 passengers and saw the arrival of nearly 500 British Caribbeans, many of whom had fought for Britain during the Second World War.

But despite contributing heavily to the rebuilding of the country after the war and laying the foundations for the Black British society we know today, the Windrush generation has been persecuted by successive British governments.

As part of the Windrush Scandal of 2018, it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the Windrush generation, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights as they were unable to prove their right to remain in the UK. 

As Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy shared in a statement to Twitter: “On Windrush Day we celebrate the Windrush Generation, who came from every corner of the Commonwealth to help rebuild Britain after the Second World War.

“We must never forget their huge contribution or the racism they suffered at the hands of successive governments #WindrushDay.”

HMT Empire Windrush pictured in 1948
HMT Empire Windrush pictured in 1948

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Across social media, people have shared heartfelt stories from within their own families, honouring the parents and grandparents who arrived as part of  the Windrush generation.

“Today I honour my late Granny who in the 60s came to the UK from Jamaica at just 19 years old, leaving her family behind to start a new life on an unknown land.

She was brave. She sacrificed. She built. She laid the foundations for me. I am grateful,” tweeted Selina Brown.

“Happy #WindrushDay to my mother and all her friends, and generation, who came to Britain and set the foundations for modern black Britain,” wrote Black British Lives Matter editor Marcus Ryder.

The day takes on a particular poignance in light of the government announcement of the British Bill of Rights, which is set to replace the Human Rights Act in the UK, and ongoing conflict regarding the Home Office’s controversial Rwanda deportation programme.

“It’s #WindrushDay – the same day the gov announce the rights removal bill, making it much easier for them to do the thing they’ve apologised for doing and said would never do again,” wrote one Twitter user.

“It’s #WindrushDay today, and instead of learning lessons from the scandal, the government has introduced a #RightsRemovalBill to snatch away the very tools that have allowed the Windrush generation to fight for justice,” commented another.

Protests held in 2018 over the Windrush scandal
Protests held in 2018 over the Windrush scandal

A report published today also suggested that only one in four applicants to the Windrush compensation scheme have received payments four years after the government promised redress for those wrongly classified by the Home Office as illegal immigrants.

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