ECA celebrated Windrush Day with a series of events taking place across the borough throughout the weekend. Oveta McInnis, ECA Chair said, “This year's 75th commemoration of Windrush is particularly significant— celebrating the economic, cultural and social contribution of the Windrush generation to Britain.”
On Thursday 22 June, ECA launched its latest publication, a children's illustrated book, Windrush Wonders, Tales of Travel and Triumph to a packed Millfield Theatre. The book’s young and talented writer Kamilah McInnis and illustrator, Kenya Josiah reminded the audience that they were not taught about contributions of the Windrush generation at school. They learned about the struggles and resilience of the generation after reading ECA’s publication Windrush Voices, published last year.
ECA also worked with this year's TES teacher of the year finalist, David Jablonka, to develop educational lessons pack for teachers and educators. The lesson packs absorb stories from Windrush Voices books to support the teaching of the Windrush experience in English, History and PSHE. The ECA Educational packs are free and will be uploaded on to the (Times Educational Supplement) TES website by the end of June 2023.
Enfield's deputy mayor, Councillor Muhammad Islam provided a keynote address where he reminded the audience of the contribution of the Windrush generation enduring the hostile environment of racism and ignorance. An experience they were able to overcome and that eventually changed the social and cultural fabric of the UK.
The evening included a powerful spoken word Windrush poem by Moina McInnis and a drama monologue of three individuals from ECA's Windrush Voices book by actress and playwright Sharron Spice.
ECA’s Windrush celebration continued to Friday 23 June at Green Tower in Edmonton. Lady Esi performed a number of moving and relevant poems to the Green Tower audience. Jazanne Arts also performed a specially commissioned musical about the life of Cislin Parry, the founder of the Hair Salon Aquarius and a contributor to Windrush Voices. The drama company performed after ECA’s weekly Friday luncheon club at Green Towers, Edmonton Green. Jazanne Arts provided a superb afternoon of fun and laughter, with fantastic performances by the three stars of the show with live music to boot!
The musical was professional, colourful and dynamic and the three artists quickly had the audience on their feet, dancing and singing along to a host of popular and well-known songs. It was delightful to see ECA elders getting so involved and clearly having a fabulous time. The performers were excellent connecting with their audience. The performance was an accurate portrayal of Cislin’s life which draws on themes of her journey from rural Jamaica to 1950s post war London. Cislin Parry was also in the audience, wore a huge warm smile for most of the show and simply said “Brilliant.”
ECA’s Windrush Day roadshow continued to Sunday 25 June at the Dugdale Arts Centre in Enfield with the screening of ECA’s film documentary Windrush Voices.
The film is a testament to the ‘back stories’ of the Windrush Generation. The book’s contributors tell their stories about living somewhere warm and lush, full of vibrant colours and aromas, among the love of extended families of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Then travelling, many for the first time by air or sea, to arrive to the drabness of a grey, monotoned war scared London. Where rationing had just recently ended. Outside toilets and the use of public baths were the norm. Sprinkle in the hostile racist environment faced by all, "The No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs" handwritten signs that greeted them.
The film documents how these pioneers overcame widespread ignorance, to survive and challenge the everyday prejudices they experienced and make a massive contribution to British society.
The film was followed by a lively roundtable discussion with the film maker, Colin Johnson and Windrush Voices contributors Paul Riddell and Bevin Betton. The event was also attended by Enfield Councillor Thomas Fawn.
The Windrush Voices popup exhibition has also been hosted at the Department of Transports HQ in Victoria until 3 July.
This pop-up exhibition summarises the back stories, as well as the real lives of 20 members of books contributors who lived in Enfield and other parts of north London. The exhibition complements the book and film documentary which explores the real lives of these individuals, who all took advantage of the 1948 British Nationality Act inviting citizens of the ‘United Kingdom and Colonies’ to ‘return to the mother country.’ They joined the nearly half a million people leaving the British West Indies for Britain.
According to DoT’s Christine Dadd-Bytyci, who coordinated the exhibition, “The DfT’s Black Staff and Allies Network are pleased that we could include The Enfield Caribbean Association’s Voices of Windrush display alongside our Windrush75 exhibition. To read the powerful, human stories and to connect the faces to them, filled colleagues with pride and nostalgia. It’s easy to get caught up in the big moments and stories but to see and read about the everyday superheroes triumphing through adversity reminded colleagues of why we celebrate. Thank you for allowing us to connect with a wider audience. Black History is British History.”
ECA’s Windrush Wonders book and events were supported by the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities. ECA’s Oveta McInnis, Windrush Voices contributor Evadney Hamilton and Cislin Parry, Windrush Wonder author and illustrator were interviewed by BBC London News TV, France TV, BBC Radio London, Channel 5 news, as well as community radio stations and a variety of Internet channels. For more pictures of our Windrush events, then have a look at our Windrush Day page.
If your organisation is interested in hiring the Windrush Voices pop-up exhibition or organising a screening of the Windrush Voices film documentary. Then please drop us a line to email@example.com.