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Note from Anna

Cricket friendlies on a sunny Sunday. Reggae bumping on a wedding dance floor. Steaming portions of ackee and saltfish at carnival weekenders. The lilt of Caribbean culture is especially felt during the British summertime – and this year is particularly special.

June 22 marks 75 years since the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush at London’s Tilbury Docks. Aboard were nearly 700 migrants from the Caribbean. Many were veterans of the second world war, invited to Britain to help rebuild. They brought with them a rich culture, shaping the future of British music, sport, literature and much more.

Ahead of the anniversary, we’re publishing a series that celebrates the “Windrush generation” and explores the pressing injustices that still face these people and their descendants.

To introduce the series, founder of the National Windrush Museum, Les Johnson, explains how this resilient Caribbean community made a lasting contribution to British society. It includes his own story. Flying into England as a young boy in 1962, the flight attendant who accompanied him was the first white person he had ever seen.

The Windrush generation may have been invited, but their reception was far from warm. The new arrivals frequently faced hostility and racism. This was evidenced as recently as 2018 during the Windrush scandal, when it was revealed that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, including many who arrived on the Windrush, were being targeted by the government’s “hostile environment” policies. As a result, many were wrongly prevented from working, denied welfare benefits and even deported. Legal expert Shalia Pal updates us on the “belittling and horrible” failings of the subsequent compensation scheme.

And we’re also hearing from members of the Windrush generation themselves. Some recall struggle: Vincent Skerritt learned to defend himself from the threat of violent Teddy Boys, while Joanett Hue was shocked by the poor housing conditions. But there was light, too. Glyne Greenidge met his best friend working nights in Preston’s cotton mills. And after arriving, David Cooke never looked back. “Yes, the sunshine in Jamaica is lovely, the food is lovely … But for me, Britain, England, is my home.” You can read their stories here.

Meanwhile, why food price caps won’t solve our inflation woes and start your working week the right way by tweaking your LinkedIn profile.

Anna Walker

Senior Arts + Culture Editor

The Windrush arrives at Tilbury docks on 22 June 1948. Contraband Collection / Alamy

The Windrush generation: how a resilient Caribbean community made a lasting contribution to British society

Les Johnson, Birmingham City University

The Windrush generation has a long and storied history encompassing empire, war, migration, multiculturalism, racism and scandal – a history that has transformed British society and culture.

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