Britain Celebrates 'Windrush Day' Amid Broader Reckoning on RaceRoundup
tags: racism, British history, immigration
Billy Perrigo is a Reporter for TIME.
Britain observes Windrush Day on Monday, a celebration of the contribution of first-generation migrants, especially those with an Afro-Caribbean background, to British life. This year, it comes amid a broader reckoning on institutional racism, kicked off by the killing of George Floyd.
The day is named after the Empire Windrush, a ship that docked near London in 1948 carrying the first cohort of migrants from the Caribbean who had been invited by the government to relocate to Britain to help fill a labour shortage after World War II.
But Windrush Day was not widely celebrated until 2018, in the wake of a scandal about institutional racism in the British government and its deadly outcomes for Black people from the Windrush generation. This year, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.K., Windrush Day is being marked amid an even broader social reckoning over structural racism around the world.
The moment is a fertile one in Britain. In response to Floyd’s murder, thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters marched in cities across the U.K. in early June. Several statues of slave traders and colonialists were removed, including one of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, which protesters toppled and threw into the city’s harbor. Others were removed by local councils and private landowners.
As well as educational events being held in schools, towns and cities across the U.K. to mark Windrush Day on Monday, Hackney council in east London announced it would erect two sculptures honoring the Windrush generation in the ethnically diverse borough.
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