Seventy years ago, a ship called the Empire Windrush pulled into the Tilbury docks in Essex. It had travelled from the Caribbean; around 500 people disembarked, ready to start new lives in Britain.
It was the beginning of new wave of immigration to the UK from countries which, at the time, were still part of the British Empire. They had been invited by the government to help the country rebuild after the Second World War. Now, people who arrived from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971 are known as the Windrush generation.
This year, Black History Month is celebrating the contributions made by the Windrush generation. Once they had arrived, Caribbeans took up posts in the brand new NHS, London’s transport system, construction sites, factories, and countless other essential areas. Earlier this year, the Windrush generation made headlines again after it emerged that the Home Office had wrongly labelled many of them illegal immigrants.
Black History Month is also marking 50 years since the UK’s 1968 Race Relations Act, which made it illegal to refuse someone housing or employment based on race.
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Use this slideshow to explore the lives and history of the Windrush generation, 70 years on.
- As a class, list as many inspirational black heroes and heroines as you can. They could be from history or they could be making a difference today; they could be artists, activists, scientists, politicians or simply people who you think deserve more recognition. Write down all of their names on a whiteboard.
- Choose one of the people from that list and create a short video or presentation about their life and why they are important to you.
- Create a timeline of black history in the UK. Do some research in order to make it as detailed as possible.