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  • Writer's pictureAndy Bell

Windrush Day

Today, Monday 22 June, commemorates the seminal moment that Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in London 72 years ago, carrying 1,027 West Indian immigrants to begin a new life in Britain.

"Those who arrived on the Empire Windrush, their descendants and those who followed them have made and continue to make an enormous contribution to Britain. Not just in the vital work of rebuilding the country and public services following World War 2 but in enriching our shared social, economic, cultural and religious life.

Overcoming great sacrifice and hardship, the Windrush Generation and their descendants have gone on to lead the field across public life, in busines, the arts and sport. Britain would be much diminished without their contribution."

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

It is very timely that the latest production shared by the National Theatre, as part of their free home streaming season, is the highly acclaimed Small Island. This moving stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel is available to watch now on their YouTube Channel.

Embark on a journey from Jamaica to Britain, from the Second World War to 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.

Small Island is a story of of post-war Caribbean migration told through four narrators – Hortense and Gilbert, who migrate from Jamaica to London in 1948, and an English couple, Queenie and Bernard, in whose house in London they find lodgings.

Small Island Trailer

Watch the full production here

Small Island will be streaming until 7pm on Thursday 25 June.

In 2018, to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Windrush Migration, Writer and Director Lynette Linton commissioned and curated a series of seven monologue films titled, Passages: A Windrush Celebration, .

Seven powerful short films were written, directed and performed by industry professionals of Caribbean and West Indian heritage to mark the seven decades of the Windrush generation.

The films were inspired by the theme of the Windrush and the impact and influence of Caribbean and West Indian settlers in Britain. The films were produced by Black Apron Entertainment and presented by the Royal Court Theatre in 2019.

Watch the trailer -

The films:

Dominoes For Beginners

Roy Williams' short film DOMINOES FOR BEGINNERS puts special focus on the recreational activity of Dominoes in the Caribbean community. A simple game with significant consequences. Watch here

Carmen Natasha Gordon's powerful short film CARMEN addresses its impact and highlights the contribution of the Windrush Generation to Britain. Watch here

The Collector Winsome Pinnock's exploration of nostalgia and sentiment is brilliantly woven in this delicate short film that references a number of iconic memorabilia. Watch here

Conversations with Grandad

Actor and Writer Jamael Westman shares an intimate account of his Grandad's journey from Jamaica to the 'Mother Country'. Watch here

A Place For You And Me

Lynette Linton's short film delivers a hard hit, with an effortless multi-roled performance from award winning actor Malachi Kirby. One family's Windrush story, served over three generations. Watch here

Paved With Gold

Shereen Jasmin Phillips' accurate depiction of the vital role that music played in creating a 'home away from home' within the Black British community. Watch here


Rikki Beadle Blair's passion-filled short film, CECIL, gives a detailed and loving account of life for young Caribbean settlers in Britain. Watch here

Windrush Day Online Events and Resources

The Windrush Foundation are Hosting a series of Presentations, Poetry, Readings, Music and Q&A sessions, reviewing key events that affected the Caribbean community over the years and a look to the future. These will be taking place via Zoom today at 5pm - 7pm and 8pm - 10pm. Visit their website for more details and to sign up to this free event.

State of Trust are hosting a live panel from 7pm – 8pm featuring artists from State of Trust's Remembering Windrush project hosted by journalist and broadcaster Terry Baddoo. Find out more and register for a free place here

The Geraldine Connor Foundation are also celebrating National Windrush Day with a special online event through interviews, poetry readings and musical performances, Khadijah Ibrahiim and Emily Zobel Marshall will take viewers on a journey to celebrate the impact that the Windrush Generation has had and continues to have on Britain. They will be joined on the night by special guests Colin Grant, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Camille Quamina and Christella Litras. This will take place on zoom, 7pm – 9pm Book your free spot here

Black Cultural Archives: Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage centre dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. The collection is free to explore and can be found here

Lambeth Council are calling on communities across the country to celebrate the Windrush Generation through music and encourage you to play and sing along with a special version of a universally loved song in their honour.

This year’s chosen song is ‘You Can Get it If You Really Want It' by Desmond Dekker. Join in at 10.27am, the time represents the arrival of 1,027 people on the original Empire Windrush. Lyrics and musical score available here

A playlist for the day has also been created and is available on Spotify Windrush Day Playlist, Windrush Day Lambeth.

ArtSpeak stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and joins the call for justice for the many lives lost due to injustice and acts of racism.

We continue to strive to engage all local communities in our programme and endeavor to reflect the true diversity of our City through the members we engage with, the partnerships we form, and the Artists we work with.

We are always keen to form new partnerships and work with new Artists to help us deliver an enriching programme. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss working with us or have any ideas of what you would like to see included.

We continue to follow Government guidelines around the current pandemic and will be in touch with programme updates very soon.

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