Beyond the Windrush
This project has been one of the most informative, intriguing and remarkable project that I myself and we at 7E
have ever been involved in. Our task
was to investigate the Black
presence within Youth Academy
before the so called “Windrush period”. HMS Windrush was a British passenger
and troop” ship which in its own right had a remarkable history. The ship had
actually been a German World War II passenger, was captured by the British and
then used a passenger and troop ship. Britain
On June the 22nd 1948 the HMS Windrush landed at Tilbury docks carrying 493 passengers including 430 plus Jamaican Men (Phillips. M and Phillips. T 1999) and 60 Polish women who had remarkably wandered through
Siberia, India and Australasia and somehow had embarked
the ship in .
In the modern British collective psyche this arrival of 430 Caribbean citizens
was the beginning of multicultural Mexico and the Black presence
within the country but this is not actually so. Britain
There have been Black communities within
for hundreds if not thousands of years. The challenge of this project was to
investigate the black presence within , not as Black heritage but
as the real British heritage – for a mixed group of young people, elders from
different communities to learn about British Heritage together as a group. We
felt that it was important that this project was not seen as a “Black” project
but as a British project to investigate the facts, contributions, culture and
heritage that been affected by the Black presence within Britain over the ages.
This is not history for Black Britons for all British people because we
firmly believe that awareness of the contributions of Black people to British
society throughout the ages will benefit all communities and culture within Britain .
So in fact this project was going “Beyond the Windrush” into the near and far
distant past to discuss Britain ’s
multicultural heritage. Britain
|Windrush arrivals 2|
|Passengers of the HMS Windrush|
What we discovered during the project
This project became bigger and bigger the more we did research. We set out with the objective of covering a conclusive history the Black presence within
We discovered a number of things during this project:
1. There have been Black people in Brittan throughout the ages from the Roman period right the way through to modern era. There soldiers, artisans, traders, musicians, servants, sportsmen, dancers, politicians, medics, and even community activists in almost every age of British history.
2. People such as William Coleridge Taylor, Ira Aldridge, Marcus Garvey, and Mary Seacole were Black people who were active, respected and influential within British society regardless of racial heritage and contributed to the development of British society.
3. The enormous contribution of Black soldiers from the Caribbean and Africa during the World War I and II effort cannot be understated and the contribution of Caribbean states. Indeed Marika Sherwood pointed out at the Discover Black History Seminar that “people don’t know that the
Ashley Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War, (2006) p.85:
‘Trinidad was one of the Empire’s few significant producers of oil – the largest producer in 1938… As a result of the demand the island’s revenue increased by over 100% during the war.’
4. There is a thirst from all people to learn about the Black British presence. On our trips to the
5. There is so much more research, processing and dissemination of information to be done in this area. The knowledge base is vat and the society is very unaware of the information. I myself who have a BA in Religion and studied at Masters Level in Community Cohesion was surprised by the all the information we learned on the educational visits, during the workshops and the presentations during the seminars. It was our objective to produce something conclusive but what we discovered was the project would need to run for longer and be much more in-depth to achieve this plus there is a lot more research to be done.
What was done during this project?
1. We visited the Black cultural archives in
2. We delivered a number of workshops where we discussed the information we gained at the visits and related to information we could find in books and online materials.
3. We invited a group of young people and elders to produce an exhibition coordinated by Pauline Bailey in different workshops about the Black presence in Brittan. Materials used included wood, metal paints and paper.
4. We organised a seminar and invited the public for free and we had Dr Marika Sherwood and Dr Robin Walker to come and make presentations which were brilliant. Then we had performances by local poets, rappers and singers around the theme of Black history. The seminar was a roaring success and we had 375 youth, elders and people from different communities attend.
5. We have created a Beyond the Windrush page on our website to decimate the information to the wider public.
6. We have uploaded footage from the seminar to encourage and facilitate further learning.
This is an independent review of the event which was done by a blogger and visitor to our event on the 31st of August at the Drum Birmingham. http://truestoryreview.wordpress.com/discoverblackhistory/
All in all this project been a massive success for our organisation, we have involved youngsters and elders to learn together, we have discovered revealing facts about British heritage together, produced and exhibition, held a seminar and had fantastic turnout. We are very proud of this project and we hope to build on the foundations of this project in the future and to once again share our process of research and findings with the wider community.
I would like to thank Heritage Lottery for supporting us in this project.
Keith Christopher Smith
Images from Beyond Windrush Exhibition
An outline of the history of peoples of African origin/descent in
In the latter half of the 18th century the population of England and Wales was calculated to be about 8 million; it was estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 were people of African origins or descent, but no basis was given for this calculation. It is the earliest estimate of the size of the Black population of
When and how had these people of African origins (or descent) arrived in
The first picture we have of an African is in the Abbreviated Domesday Book, dated 1241.[i] We do not know who he was, or how many Africans were living or visiting here then.
From the 16th century, we have many records. For example, there were Africans in the service of James IV of Scotland (ruled 1488 - 1513); John Blanke was a Black trumpeter serving Henry VII and later Henry VIII; in 1501 Catherine of Aragon, coming to be married to Henry VIII, landed in England with a number of African attendants; Elizabeth I of England (ruled 1558-1603) employed Africans; and when William of Orange arrived to take over the throne in 1688, he had 200 Africans among his troops. The first mention of Africans in parish records (that is, records of births, deaths and marriages kept by the Church of England for the government) is in the 1590s. These records also show many marriages between Blacks and Whites. Africans, described as ‘Moor’, ‘Blackamoor’, ‘negro’, ‘black’ and ‘Ethiopian’, appear in these records throughout the whole of
Whether slavery was legal in
As far as we know at the moment, Africans came as domestic slaves/servants, brought by their owners/ employers; as soldiers and as seamen, both on merchant and Royal Navy vessels; a few came as students and merchants, and there were one or two ambassadors. Before the 20th century we have records of a light-house keeper, a town council’s employment agent, a newspaper editor and a coal-merchant; of shopkeepers, musicians, civil servants, clergymen, divers, writers, teachers, and political leaders and activists. By the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century we had Indian Members of Parliament and African-descent county/town councillors and town mayors.
Campaigners against the trade in enslaved Africans and against slavery visited
Various regiments in the British Army recruited local Black men from the 18th to the middle of the 19th century. In the 19th century
More traders and students arrived, some of whom, on qualifying, decided to practise (mainly as doctors and lawyers) in the
We do not know the size of the Black population in
Black organisations began to be formed in most cities. Some were purely local, others became nation-wide organisations, such as the African Progress Union (1918-1925). A large campaign was mounted against the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (
After World War II, there was a great labour shortage in
? The Domesday Book was a sort of census carried out in 1086.
? www.questia.com › ... › )
Books on the history of Black peoples in
Borough of Sandwell, West Africa, West Indies,
Ian Grosvenor, Rita McLean and Sian Roberts (eds), Making Connections, Birmingham City Council and
SCAWDI, History Detectives, 2010
SCAWDI, A Day in the Life: A Black Heritage Trail of the
There is much material held at the archives section of the Birmingham City Library.
Beyond the Windrush group research